Presentation on theme: "The Politics of Slave Culture. Puzzles to Consider for Next Week Why did northerners and southerners come to distrust each other? Why did southerners."— Presentation transcript:
The Politics of Slave Culture
Puzzles to Consider for Next Week Why did northerners and southerners come to distrust each other? Why did southerners see the abolitionists as a serious threat to slavery? In what ways were slaves able to influence politics?
Slavery was in many respects a “negotiated” relationship between the enslaved and their masters. A.False: Slavery is premised on power; masters did not need to negotiate! A.True: However great, the power of the master was never absolute.
Slavery as a Negotiated Relationship Ultimate threat of the planter: Violence
Slavery as a Negotiated Relationship Ultimate threat of the planter: Violence Ultimate threat of the slave: Refuse to work
Slavery as a Negotiated Relationship Ultimate threat of the planter: Violence Ultimate threat of the slave: Refusal to Work Planter held advantage, but often had to make compromises
Runaways and Revolts as Resistance Runaways perceived as a big problem (Underground Railroad).
Day-to-Day Resistance Sometimes Became Even More Serious Runaways perceived as a big problem (Underground Railroad). Slave Conspiracies and Revolts: Denmark Vesey in SC (1822) and Nat Turner in VA (1831)
Question: Did Garrison’s Liberator encouraged Nat Turner’s Rebellion? A.Yes, the Liberator began publishing at same year as Turner’s rebellion. B.No, Turner seemed unaware of the Liberator.
Why Not More Runaways and Revolts? Geography (Maroon Communities Difficult) Demographics (Slaves Outnumber) Slave Family Life Police Power of the Government
Another Kind of Resistance: Plantation of James Henry Hammond Hammond: Man on the Make Married Catherine Fitzsimmons Philosophy: “Design for Mastery”
Work: Slaves Converted Privileges to Rights Hammond’s attempt to shorten Christmas holiday: I was “persuaded out of my decision by the Negroes”
Slave Religion: Hammond Tried to Control 1840s: “I intend to break up Negro preaching... Ordered night meetings to be discontinued.”
... Yet He Fails Miserably 1851: “Religious Troubles among the Negroes...they are allowed too much organization—too much power to the head men”
Southerners Begin to Worry Will antislavery northerners encourage runaways? Will antislavery northerners encourage slave rebellions? What happens if southerners lose control of the federal government?
White Southerners Adopt Siege Mentality Abolition Becomes a Felony in Many Southern States. Destruction of Mail in Charleston Post Office (1835). Gag Rule in Congress (1836). Slavery as a Positive Good
Southern Behavior Elicited Some Distrust in North John Quincy Adams: “The South Carolinians are attempting to govern the Union as they govern their slaves.”
Adding to the Cycle of Distrust Northern Abolitionism Slave Resistance Southern Censorship Northern Suspicion Proslavery Ideology
The “Before Picture” Thomas Jefferson’s Ambivalence Slaveholder who recognized contradictions Slavery might undermine republic Slavery would eventually disappear
But Jefferson Did Relatively Little to Abolish Slavery “We have the wolf by the ears; and we can neither hold him, nor safely let him go. Justice is in one scale, and self-preservation in the other.” Thomas Jefferson, 1820
Elements of Proslavery Ideology Religion: Bible Justified Slavery, Africans Introduced to Christianity Economics: Northerners Benefit from Slavery as Well. Care of Slaves: Planters Have Economic Incentive to Treat Slaves Well. Racism