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Life in the Cotton Kingdom

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Presentation on theme: "Life in the Cotton Kingdom"— Presentation transcript:

1 Life in the Cotton Kingdom
The Rise of Cotton in the South, The Domestic Slave Trade, and The Life of Slaves in the South

2 The Expansion of Slavery
The invention of the cotton gin, by Eli Whitney, in 1793 paved the way for the expansion of cotton kingdoms in the South. Slavery also expanded rapidly and necessary to clear the forests and drain the swamps in the South to cultivate new lands for cotton crops. Native Americans were effected by this expansion, and the Indian Removal Act of 1830 led to the Cherokee, Seminole, Choctaw, Creek, and Chickasaw (as well as other tribes) being moved to “Indian Territory,” in OK. The Cherokee also utilized slaves in OK, and the economy they created there resulted in 7,000 slaves by 1860 (14% of the population).

3 How Stuff Works: The Cotton Gin

4 Slave Population Growth
The slave population exploded during the years between 1790 and 1860, from 700,000 to 4 million. Some areas in the South did not have such large populations of slaves such as western NC, eastern TN, western VA, and MO. The cotton producing states of AL and MS had large areas of population growth. VA had the largest slave population during this period. By 1860, MS became a state (like SC) that had more slave inhabitants then free.

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6 Ownership of Slaves in the Old South
Slaveholders in the south were also distributed unevenly, and were actually declining in number. In 1830, 36% of white southerners owned slaves and this percent dropped to 5% in 1860. 50% of slaveholders owned fewer than 5 slaves. 12% owned more than 20 slaves. 1% owned more than 50 slaves. More than 50% of slaves belonged to masters with 20 or more slaves, therefore the typical slave in the south was from a large plantation. Freed blacks in the south purchased slaves for two reasons: To protect their families from sale and disruption since manumission was becoming rare. Financial gain, since some free blacks had successful businesses and inherited plantations.

7 Slave Labor in Agriculture: Tobacco
Tobacco was an important crop in VA, MA, KY, and parts of MO & NC during the 1800’s. Tobacco was a difficult crop to produce since it took longer growing seasons and was susceptible to worm infestation. Slaves would be punished if they did not effectively de-worm the crop and punishment included beatings, eating the worms, and forced inhalation of massive amounts of tobacco smoke.

8 Slave Labor in Agriculture: Rice
Rice production remained confined to the low country of SC and GA. It did not spread like tobacco and cotton production. Rice plantations worked off the “task” system and slaves enjoyed some autonomy. Slaves had to maintain the irrigation systems on rice plantations to flood fields. Since rice production was labor intensive, it required large labor forces to cultivate this crop. The only plantation employing over 1,000 slaves was in these regions.

9 Slave Labor in Agriculture: Sugar
Sugar was not grown widely in the U.S., but regions along the Mississippi River and in southern Louisiana began growing sugar cane in the late 18th century. Slaves were worked hard on these plantations due to the profitability of sugar, along with the labor intensive process involved in refining sugar. Work on these plantations was hot and hectic, and many slaves feared being sent to the sugar plantations the most.

10 Slave Labor in Agriculture: Cotton
Cotton became the South’s (and U.S.’s) staple crop during this time period, and by 1860 had amounted to more than 50% of the trade value. The most slaves in the south were employed in the production of cotton even though the cultivation of the crop didn’t require as much labor as rice, sugar or tobacco. By 1860, out of the 2.5 million slaves, 1.8 million produced cotton. Britain and New England drove this demand for cotton with their textile mills, and the cotton gin aided in speedy production. The rise of cotton also led to the rise in price for slaves. In 1830, adult males would cost $1,250 ($21,000) and by 1850 this rose to $1,800 ($33,000)

11 Slave Labor in Agriculture: Other Crops
Slaves in the Old South also produced a variety of other crops such as; hemp, corn, wheat, oats, rye, white and sweet potatoes. They also raise cattle, hogs, sheep and horses. Wheat replaced tobacco as the main cash crop in the Chesapeake region and hemp was the main crop of KY.

12 House Servants & Skilled Slaves
House servants were utilized by masters to act as cooks, maids, butlers, nurses, and gardeners. Although they enjoyed better food, clothing, and conditions, they were also monitored more closely and cut off from the slave quarters Skilled slaves were the “elite,” and held jobs such as blacksmiths, carpenters, and millrights. They also had freedom to travel since they would commonly have to go into towns/cities for tools and parts. Since these slaves worked for money, many became independent contractors, but more often the masters would keep their earnings.

13 Urban & Industrial Slavery
Urban slaves served as domestics, washwomen, waiters, artisans, and other jobs in the cities of the south. Baltimore and New Orleans became the major areas where they would reside. “Term slavery,” became a commonality in these urban areas, and slaves would purchase their freedom over a set number of years. Many would remain employed by their previous masters. Industrial slavery accounted for 5% of southern slaves (appx. 200,000), and they worked in textile mills Slaves worked for lumber yards, salt works, and chemical works. Industrial slaves were usually “rented,” and would receive some cash as an incentive.

14 Punishment Slave labor by definition is forced labor based on the threat of physical punishment. Masters denied that the punishment of slaves was immoral and used the bible as a justification as to the use of corporal punishment against servants. Whipping was a common punishment, and slaves still found ways to resist without having to fear lashings. Slaves used covert methods of resistance to avoid the whip, but very few slaves escaped being whipped at least once in their lives.

15 The Domestic Slave Trade
The expansion of the cotton production to the south and west combined with the decline of slavery in the Chesapeake region and this led to the rise of the domestic slave trade. New Orleans was one of the biggest slave markets of the time, and this trade accounted for 150,000 slaves sold every 10yrs starting in 1820. By 1860, 50% of slaves from the upper south moved involuntarily to the southwest. These groups were moved on foot in groups chained together (called coffles). They were also moved by ship and later by railroad. The domestic slave trade showed the cruelty of the institution since masters intentionally tore families apart with the punishment of being “sold down river,” for personal profit and gain. After being freed, many former slaves tried to seek out the families they had been torn away from.

16 Slave Families Slave families struggled to remain intact since they had no legal standing and marriages between men and women was not seen as legitimate. Families, however, remained the core of the African American community. Slave couples would live together in cabins on the masters property. If the couple were belonging to different masters, then the children would stay with the mother and the father would make visits.

17 Children Children in the slave family would be taught from early on how to survive as a slave, as well as the importance of an extended family. Slaves knew that the family could be broken up and that it would take the grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins to keep the family together. This also allowed for a sense of their own heritage to remain. The infant mortality rate was extremely high due to stress during pregnancy and dietary issues. 50% of slave children died before the age of 5. Mother’s were not given adequate time to nurse their children, and this too led to deaths. Childhood was short since many children witnessed the horrors of slavery, and were also put on light chore duty starting at 6. By age 12, they were doing the work of an adult.

18 Sexual Exploitation Sexual exploitation of female slaves was common and had been occurring since the early years of the slave trade. Abuse during the Middle Passage and long term relationships between masters and slaves were examples. The most famous affair was between Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings. Hemings was 14 when Jefferson was 42, and she allowed for the relationship due to her status and that of her children. Forced sexual relations were justified by slave owners by accusations that black women were promiscuous, while others argued that this reduced prostitution and led to more purity among white women.

19 Diet Although the weekly ration on a plantation was enough to maintain a slaves weight, modern medical science has shown that their diet was deficient in calcium, vitamin C, riboflavin, protein and iron. This inadequacies led to many slaves suffering from chronic illnesses due to their stressful work conditions and diet. A distinct cuisine was developed in the south and African Americans utilized West African traditional recipes using yams, okra, benne seeds and peanuts. Cooking also gave a sense of control to black women, as well as allowing for creativity.

20 Clothing Slaves had little choice over their clothing, and they were allotted clothing twice a year. Once in the fall and once in the spring. Men wore cotton shirts and breeches in the spring, and in the winter they wore a jacket and wool cap. Women wore cotton shifts and a handkerchief in the spring, and jackets in the winter. Children generally went nude in the spring.

21 Health Low birth weight, diet, and clothing all affected the health of slaves. Overwork and the hot climate of the south also contributed to poor health. Mosquito-borne diseases, European diseases and African diseases all contributed to poor health. Also, African Americans suffered from lactose intolerance and a lack of vitamin D. This led to several fatal diseases. The Southern blacks population was the only in the Americas that grew through natural reproduction. By the 1830’s, conditions were improved on plantations leading to improved health. Folk remedies were also used by blacks and many times these were more effective then 19th century medicine.

22 The Socialization of Slaves
Folk tales became a means of educating other African Americans with skills to protect themselves and their loved ones. Briar Rabbit uses wits to overcome threats from powerful antagonists such as the briar fox. They also learned to watch what they said to white people and about other African Americans. They also learned to hide their knowledge of antislavery sentiments and this made masters view their subtle resistance as black stupidity rather then defiance.

23 Religion Religion was also a means for slaves to cope with their condition. Plantation churches utilized white ministers that would tell the slaves that they needed to obey their masters as they did God. Many slaves formed semisecret black churches. These churches emphasized Moses and deliverance from bondage, rather than the master servant relationship.

24 The Character of Slavery & Slaves
Slavery was portrayed in many ways throughout the years: The early 20th century view argued that slavery in the South was benign and a paternalistic institution. Later, historians viewed this institution in a more realistic manner. Slaves were used for profit, treated cruelly, and separated from their families. Slavery in the North America differed greatly from that in South America. Roman Catholic religion and laws in South America led to a less abusive and racist system of slavery, and slaves were more protected in Latin America.

25 The Character of Slavery & Slaves
The early argument about the character of slaves also differed from later arguments: In the early 20th century, it was argued that slaves were predisposed to being subservient. Later, historians argued that the concentration camp-like conditions merely forced slaves to be dependent on their masters and not mature fully. The latter arguments made have been widely accepted and better explain slave life and the formation of black communities and institutions. Resistance forced slave masters to accept the blacks work level and autonomy in the quarters. Slavery forced blacks to create their own institutions.

26 Conclusions Slavery varied in every region and was due to the crops being produced. Black labor was the backbone of the American economy as the US expanded. African Americans resisted, persevered, and developed their own culture and heritage. HW: 1pg Active Notes Chapter 9 (Due Monday)


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