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The antebellum south and Slavery

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1 The antebellum south and Slavery
Chapter 12 and 13

2 Cotton and the Economy of the South
Cotton Gin 1793—cotton is king Cotton production expanded tremendously Other forms of agriculture (tobacco, rice, indigo, wheat) remained but became secondary to cotton Early efforts at trade and industry faded away—South became dependent on agriculture and cotton (and slave labor) to sustain its economy Oligarchic economy and society Large plantations and slavery encouraged income inequality and domination of Southern society by a wealthy elite Large plantations could produce goods at a lower cost (economy of scale) smaller farmers couldn’t compete and were bought out, forced west Wealthy landowners dominated the economy, society, and politics of the South

3 Slavery and social divisions in the South
Most white southerners—about 75% did not own any slaves Of the 25% of white southerners who did own slaves most owned only a handful About one half of 1% of the Southern white population owned the majority of slaves in the South

4 Slavery and Social Divisions in the South (cont.)
Planter Elite—1-3% of white population Top of the social ladder, owned large amounts of slaves, dominated society, politics, and the economy Yeoman Farmers—20-25% of white population Middle class Independent farmers Might own a handful of slaves might not own any Poor Whites—70-75% of white population Lower class Owned no slaves Worked on small farms in agriculturally unproductive areas of the South Free Blacks—250,000 Freed slaves, slaves who had purchased their freedom, etc. Precarious social and legal standing--had few legal rights, faced discrimination and harassment Slaves—4 million Other groups Mountain whites poor/middle class whites living in the Appalachian mountain region Despised the planter elite and slaves Urban Middle Class Lawyers, artisans, skilled professionals Owned few slaves

5 Why slavery? Paradox of slavery in the South
The majority of white southerners were hurt not helped by the slave system, why would they tolerate it in the South/fight to defend it during the Civil War and the years leading up to it? Economic rationale for slavery Slaves were viewed as necessary to sustain the cotton economy of the South, getting rid of slavery would further hurt the fragile Southern economy Other justifications for slavery Bring Christianity and “civilization” to Africans Slaves in the South lived better than northern “wage slaves” in factories Elimination of slavery would lead to racial violence

6 Slavery in the South Slave trade outlawed in 1808—US slave population was self- sustaining Slave owners had an economic incentive to treat slaves somewhat reasonably—excessive cruelty or violence would damage their “investment” Daily routine Physical labor during the daylight hours Only a small % of slaves (less than 10%) worked in non-agricultural settings (domestic servants, some industry) Women not only did the physical labor of male slaves but also had to maintain their households (cook, clean, care for their family, etc) Culture and religion Fusion of various African and European influences Slaves were the target of evangelists during the Second Great Awakening

7 African Resistance to Slavery
Passive Resistance Intentionally slowing production on plantations Sabotaging equipment Running away Active Resistance: Slave rebellions Gabriel’s Rebellion—Virginia 1800 Denmark Vessey (freed black)—Charleston SC 1822 Nat Turner’s Rebellion—Virginia 1831 All slave revolts failed Irony of slave revolts Led to more restrictions on freed blacks and slaves—prohibition of educating slaves for example Led to harsh backlash against ideas of manumission, emancipation, and abolitionism Made slave owners feel that their way of life was under attack, caused them to defend slavery even more forcefully than they did before

8 Abolitionism Idea that slavery should be abolished immediately, everywhere Causes of abolitionism? 2nd Great Awakening Abolitionist movements in other countries—especially Great Britain (abolished slavery ) Who were the abolitionists? Similar to other reforms of the antebellum era—middle class Moral abolitionists—middle class (majority of abolitionists) Self centered abolitionists—lower class, didn’t want to compete with slave labor (minority of abolitionists at first) African Americans

9 Abolitionism Early abolitionism: American Colonization Society 1817
Liberia 1822 Popular during the 1830s and early 1840s Problems with this idea? Later abolitionism William Lloyd Garrison, The Liberator American Antislavery Society 1833 Black Abolitionists Frederick Douglass—ex-slave, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass Sojourner Truth—female ex-slave, worked for women’s rights and abolitionism Abolitionist/Anti-slavery Political Parties Liberty Party 1840, 1844 elections—mostly anti-slavery Whigs Free Soil Party 1848—moral abolitionists, plus self-centered abolitionists Republican Party 1854

10 Responses to Abolitionism (North and South)
Similar to southern response to slave revolts—led to a backlash against moderates who wanted to end slavery Southern post-masters destroyed abolitionist literature sent in the mail Abolitionists attacked, blamed for encouraging slave revolts North Most northerners were NOT abolitionists Garrison, Douglass, Truth all attacked by angry mobs in the North, Elijah Lovejoy attacked and killed 1837 Why hostility to abolitionism in the North? Economic ties to the South and slavery Racism Feared competition with freed blacks—especially among poor immigrants (Irish)

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