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Currier & Ives, Cotton Plantation

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1 Currier & Ives, Cotton Plantation
Southern Slavery Currier & Ives, Cotton Plantation

2 Growing Black Population
600% increase in black population, Less than 700,000 in 1790; 4 million by 1860 1 out of every 3 Southerners – majority in Mississippi & South Carolina Mostly due to natural increase - only 50,000 smuggled in after 1808 260,000 free blacks by 1860 (6% of black population) Over 10% of all blacks free by 1810, but many states forbade manumission in 1820s-1830s Required to carry papers & very limited in rights Could own slaves – 3,200 did so Many were mulattoes

3 Population of the Southern States

4 Blacks in the North Northern states phased out slavery
Penn. (1780), N.Y. (1799), Conn. & N.J. (1804) provided for gradual abolition – almost all free by 1840 Mass. Supreme Court ruled slavery violated state constitution in 1781 Slavery barred from Northwest Territory (1787) Over 3/5 of Northern blacks lived in cities Most were unskilled laborers Only 5 states allowed black men to vote

5 The Rise of King Cotton Eli Whitney’s cotton ‘gin made it possible to profitably grow short-staple cotton. Annual production soared: 1790 – 3,000 bales 1810 – 178,000 bales 1860 – 4 million bales By 1860, South grew 75% of world’s cotton. Eli Whitney’s Cotton ‘Gin

6 The Cotton Kingdom Over ½ grown in Ala., Miss. & La.
¾ grown by slaves 1 million slaves moved to new western plantations, Mostly young adults 60-70% sold Equal sex ratio, except for sugar plantations

7 Plantation Profits Capitalist agriculture Benefited rest of U.S.
8% annual return on investment, Demand rose 5% annually Benefited rest of U.S. Cotton = 60% of U.S. exports by 1840 South became prime market for Northern manufactured goods Hampered economic development of South Few factories No public education Main Plantation Crops

8 Slaveowning Concentrated in Wealthy Hands
Only 26% of Southern white families owned slaves by 1860 Majority of slaveowners had 5 or fewer 2.7% owned 50 or more 0.1% owned 200 or more Average wealth of slaveowners was 13.9 times that of non-slaveowners Majority of slaves lived on middling or large holdings 25% on small holdings (1-9 slaves) 50% on middling holdings (10-49 slaves) 25% on large holdings (50 or more)

9 Plantation Life Supervision varied by size:
Resident masters supervised smaller plantations (under 30 slaves) Hired overseers ran larger ones Foremen (drivers) often slaves Lenient treatment mixed with harsh punishment Typical rations = 1 peck of cornmeal & lb.s of bacon per week; 4 suits of clothing per year Each family had small wooden cabin, cleaned regularly to protect health Sundays & Saturday afternoons off

10 Slave Quarters, Carter’s Grove Plantation, Virginia

11 Slave Quarters, Carter’s Grove Plantation, Virginia

12 Life as a Slave Nuclear families with 7 children on average
Masters encouraged monogamy to maintain order most escapees were young, unmarried men Economic imperatives took precedence, however 1/3 of all slave marriages broken up by sale of spouses in Upper South almost ½ of all children separated from at least 1 parent Distinction between field slaves & house slaves real, but exaggerated Field slaves (75%) had more freedom but worse conditions House slaves (25%) had better conditions but less freedom Picking cotton

13 The Paradox of Black - White Relations
Dialectical relationship Each shaped the other Blacks contributed to broader American culture while creating separate subculture Whites could never resolve inherent contradictions of slavery Philosophical contradiction: rests on assumption that one man completely surrenders his will and becomes an extension of another man’s will Legal contradiction: slaves simultaneously people & property Plantation near Richmond, VA

14 Justifications for Slavery
Racism – blacks seen as lazy & childlike Argued slavery civilized & Christianized them Argued only whipping would make slaves work Christian Religion Believed Bible condoned slavery Thought “Curse of Ham” (Gen. 9:20-27) justified it Feudal Myth claimed reciprocal relationship – provided for slaves’ needs in exchange for devoted service Paternalistic care contrasted with “inhumane” treatment of Northern factory workers

15 Woodcuts from Josiah Priest, In Defense of Slavery

16 Blacks’ View of Slavery
Rejected racism, but learned to conform to whites’ expectations to avoid punishment Saw Christianity as affirming their equality & offering promise of earthly freedom as well as heavenly redemption Blacks neither grateful for care, nor considered it payment – viewed it as fundamental right Used whites’ rhetoric of feudalism to demand better treatment Appreciated “good” masters & accepted punishment when deserved Slave manacles

17 Extremely Unfavorable Conditions for Rebellion
High ratio of whites to blacks, unlike rest of the Americas Small size & dispersed nature of most slaveholdings Well-armed resident masters who kept close watch on their property Political stability (except during the Revolutionary & Civil Wars)

18 Running Away 50,000 slaves ran away each year
75% of escaped slaves were in teens or 20s Most returned to families or tried to pass as free blacks in cities Some went “on strike” to negotiate better conditions Underground Railroad map

19 Effects of Slavery on White Relationships
All whites got benefits of being part of the “master race” Racism used to keep nonslaveholding white majority in favor of system All white men expected to ride slave patrols Concept of chivalry defined women as weak & in need of protection from rapacious black men Women had to endure husbands’ raping of female slaves Women often biggest critics of slavery as a result – e.g. Sarah & Angelina Grimke

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