Why cotton? Naturally, southern farmers wanted a profitable, reliable crop. They found that crop in cotton. Other crop choices were flawed Tobacco badly depleted the soil & prices were unreliable. Rice could only be grown along water Sugar required a substantial investment to farm, making it a "rich man's crop."
Why Cotton? Eli Whitney's cotton gin, invented in 1793, allowed 50 times more cotton to be produced per day. The machine separated the cotton from its seeds. Demand for cotton from British and American textile mills was very strong. (textiles are woven cloth). The Southern climate was perfect for cotton growing. Cotton was compatible with corn growing.
The Effects of the Cotton Boom In 1800, cotton accounted for 7% of all U.S. Exports. By 1860, cotton accounted for 57% of U.S. exports. Slavery was not required to grow cotton. In fact, an estimated 35-50% of cotton farmers owned no slaves in 1860. Slavery made it possible to harvest more cotton and to do it quickly. Plantations with many slaves could increase their profits significantly. By 1830, cotton employed about 3/4 of Southern Slaves. In 1790, there were about 700,000 slaves in the U.S. By 1860, there were about 4,000,000. In 1860, the 12 wealthiest counties in the U.S. were all in the South.
The Planter Aristocracy Only 1,733 families owned more than 100 slaves in 1850. Large slave-owners dominated the Old South politically and economically Sought the best soil and moved frequently Planters were susceptible to debt and overly dependent on one crop
Small Slaveholders About ¼ of southerners lived in slave- owning families In 1860, 88% of al slaveholders owned fewer than 20 slaves Most hoped to become larger planters
Non-Slave Owning Whites About ¾ of southern whites did not own slaves Often relegated to the worst land Often subsistence farmers Saw slavery as a path to upward mobility Proud to be white
Free Blacks About 6% of Southern blacks were free Many were located in the cities Economic opportunities existed, but so did severe discrimination Restrictions tightened after Nat Turner rebellion
Slaves There were about 4 Million slaves in1860 Slaves were the primary form of wealth in the South Discussion: What were the greatest cruelties of slavery?
Resistance What were the most common forms of slave resistance? Why wasn’t violent rebellion more common?
Nat Turner Revolt Nat Turner was an American slave whose failed slave rebellion in Virginia in 1831 was the most remarkable instance of black resistance to enslavement in the antebellum South. The rebels traveled from house to house, freeing slaves and killing all the white people they found. Because the slaves did not want to alert anyone to their presence as they carried out their attacks, they used knives, hatchets, axes, and blunt instruments instead of firearms. Turner called on his group to "kill all whites." Until Turner and his brigade of slaves met resistance at the hands of a white militia, 55 white men, women and children were killed.
Abolitionism During the pre-Civil War years, the movement to abolish slavery gained momentum in the North. Abolitionists disagreed in their approach. While many Northerners wanted slavery to be restricted, few saw themselves as abolitionists.
The Southern Response Abolitionists were seen as a threat not only to the future of slavery, but also as a source of potential slave revolts. Southerners increasingly defended slavery in the face of this “foreign” attack. What were the major southern pro-slavery arguments?