NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Just and Reasonable Treatment: Racial Treatment in the Terms of Pauper Apprenticeship in Antebellum Maryland

Howard Bodenhorn

NBER Working Paper No. 9752
Issued in June 2003
NBER Program(s):   DAE

This paper investigates the economics of pauper apprenticeship in antebellum Maryland and several results emerge. Contrary to some earlier interpretations, the system did not arbitrarily indent poor children. Court officials negotiated contracts that reflected an apprentice's productivity; officials did not offer one-size-fits-all contracts to minimize the costs of indenting indigent children. Black and white children received comparable compensation during the term of the indenture, but blacks were promised and received substantially less education than whites. It was in the provision of education that Maryland's system discriminated against blacks and undermined their ability to achieve long-run economic independence.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w9752

 
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