In this chapter, the authors attempt to measure the profitability of southern slave operations in terms of modern capital theory. They illustrate the ways in which economic theory might be used in ordering and organizing historical facts. The outstanding economic characteristics of southern agriculture before the Civil War were a high degree of specialization and virtually exclusive reliance on a slave labor force. Slavery in the immediate antebellum years was, therefore, an economically viable institution in virtually all areas of the South as long as slaves could be expeditiously and economically transferred from one sector to another. The history of slavery is full of examples of slave economies that could not reproduce their population and collapsed because of a failure of supply. The aspect of slave economics that causes the most confusion and outright error is that which relates to the capitalization, and, in the antebellum southern case, the presumed overcapitalization of slave labor.