This paper investigates Gordon Tullock’s unpublished manuscripts that proposed a public choice interpretation of American slavery. Drafted in response to Conrad and Meyer’s seminal 1958 article on the economics of slavery, Tullock’s writings influenced the early debate over slavery through his University of Virginia colleague John E. Moes. This paper uses Tullock’s surviving writings to map out his theory of slavery and situate it in the broader economic analysis of the institution and identify the links between the economics of slavery and the public choice research tradition.
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The letter is not dated, but it is clearly from 1958.
Tullock (1967) was written for Murray Rothbard’s libertarian journal Left and Right. It was solicited by its editor who described Tullock as “the greatest expert on the economics of slavery that I know of.” Rothbard’s correspondence further indicated that Tullock “been working on the economics of slavery for some time” but “never before had an opportunity to put [his] conclusions in writing,” suggesting his awareness of the earlier exchanges with Conrad and Meyer (Rothbard 1966, 1967).
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Magness, P.W., Carden, A. & Murtazashvili, I. Gordon Tullock and the economics of slavery. Public Choice 197, 185–199 (2023). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11127-023-01100-w