Just and Reasonable Treatment: Racial Treatment in the Terms of Pauper Apprenticeship in Antebellum Maryland
NBER Working Paper No. 9752
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.