From Marginal Revolution:

Even if it is assumed that the daily number of calories available for work was the same in the United States in 1860 as today, the intensity of work per hour would have been well below today’s levels, since the average number of hours worked in 1860 was 1.75 times as great as today.  During the mid nineteenth century, only slaves on southern gang-system plantations appear to have worked at levels of intensity per hour approaching current standards.

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