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The South and Slavery c. 1790s – 1850s.

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Presentation on theme: "The South and Slavery c. 1790s – 1850s."— Presentation transcript:

1 The South and Slavery c. 1790s – 1850s

2 Cotton and the Expansion into the Old Southwest
Eli Whitney’s cotton gin made cultivating short-staple cotton profitable, revolutionizing the Southern economy Due to the rapid depletion of soil caused by cotton production, new land was needed and surges of migration headed west: the original 6 southern states grew to 15 by the 1850s. Expansion drove out the Indians who lived there, starting with Jackson’s defeat of the Creeks at Horseshoe Bend in 1814 and culminating in the Cherokee Trail of Tears in 1838. Expansion of cotton meant the expansion of slavery and the total dependency of the South on slave labor


4 Slavery Financed Northern Industrial Development
Cotton was the driving economical force from ; fueling the North’s manufacturing centers The unprecedented demand for cotton by foreign markets (especially the British) drove production to unheard of levels—by the 1850s, cotton accounted for over 60% of US exports New England shipping controlled the cotton trade, hence Northern manufacturing was directly tied to southern slavery


6 North and South Diverge
The South became a true slave society, reconfirmed by the profitability of cotton and extending this belief beyond previously thought boundaries Industrialization affected the North with rapid urban growth and the development of infrastructure; while the South remained rural as Southerners developed anti-urban, anti-commercial sentiments The South lagged behind (by choice) the North in industrialization, transportation, and investment—cotton was king, and Southerners were unconvinced to disrupt their safe, profitable system of slave labor Yet, politically, the South felt they were losing their political dominance, as their population was not keeping up with the North, as well as the growth of the Abolitionist movement The Missouri Compromise (1820) was the first in a series of events that tested these sectional divisions

7 Slavery in America Slavery had become distinctly Southern: by the 1820s, the Northern states had abolished slavery 1808: US ended its involvement in the international slave trade Southern states relied on the natural increase of slavery: population increased from 700,000 to about 4 million from

8 The Internal Slave Trade
Slaves were held in holding pens in major port cities like Charleston, SC before being moved by train or boat westward Slaves were moved on foot, in chained groups of fifty known as coffles A common sight on the roads, it clashed with the Southern notion that slavery was a “benevolent institution”

9 To Be A Slave The growth of the slave population was due to the high fertility rate of African American women, yet health remained a life-long issue for slaves and pregnant women, as they were usually malnourished and endured poor living conditions Children of slaves were not educated 55% of the slave population was engaged in cotton growing 75% of slaves were field workers, aging quickly due to poor diet, and tedious heavy labor (up to 18 hours a day during harvest-time) 33% of female slaves in Virginia worked as house servants, who were better clothed, fed and had more access to information House servants had to endure the degrading treatment of their masters and their families A small number of slaves worked as skilled workers and artisans, whose crafts were utilized and sometimes they were contracted to work—yet all wages earned belonged to the master, not the slave

10 African American Community
Slave marriages, though a haven for love and intimacy for slaves, were not recognized by law nor respected by masters Slave families were often split up and protective kinship networks developed among family and friends to support each other Slaves were not permitted to practice African religions, but certain ceremonies, beliefs, and traditions were a mainstay of African American culture The Great Awakening introduced Africans to Christianity, but it was solidified by the Second Great Awakening of the 1790s , where African American churches began to emerge Though whites hoped that Christianity would make the slaves obedient, they found a liberating message that strengthened their sense of community and offered them spiritual freedom “Black Christianity” fused African culture with Christian practices that created their own style of spirituality expressing community, emotion, enthusiasm, and protest

11 Freedom and Resistance
Escape was very difficult in the Lower South due to the extensive lengths one had to go towards freedom; running away and hiding in the swamps or woods for a week, then returning, was more common—punishment was mild, and wiser slave owners did not ignore the discontent of their slaves Harriet Tubman, an escaped slave herself, helped to rescue slaves in her lifetime

12 Slave Revolts Gabriel Prosser’s Rebellion (1800): failed attempt of preacher Prosser organizing 1000 slaves to take over Richmond, VA—leaders betrayed and 25 were executed Denmark Vesey’s Conspiracy (1822): occurring two years after MO Compromise, slave revolt planned to take Charleston, SC and escape to Haiti—again, leaders betrayed and 75 were executed Nat Turner’s Rebellion (1831): in VA, the most famous of all slave revolts, resulted in the deaths of 55 whites; leaders executed Effects: any notion of southern states voting on gradual emancipation ended, and the creation of stricter black codes, harshly enforced, became the mainstay of antebellum society

13 Free African Americans
By 1860, there were nearly 250,000 free African Americans working as tenant farmers or day laborers In cities, free African American communities flourished, but they lacked the basic civil rights of whites Examples of black codes: Could not carry firearms Could not testify against whites Could not vote or hold office Subject to same punishment as slaves (whipping, no jury trials) Free blacks had to wear badges that proved their “free status”

14 The White Majority 2/3’s of all southerners did not own slaves
30-50% of southern whites were landless Poor whites worked as tenant farmers or day laborers along side African American slaves Yeomen farmers were self-sufficient, living on family-sized farms Though some were ambitious, owned slaves, and hoped for joining the planter-elite, most yeomen were content on their subsistence, non-market agriculture Middle class merchants, bankers, and lawyers arose in the cities to sell southern crops on the world market Planter-elite did not care for these middle class members who viewed their lifestyle as dependent on others, lacking that true independent planter spirit

15 The Planter Class Most slaveholders owned only a few slaves
Small slaveholders were vulnerable to crop failures and crop prices; it was easier for the middle class to become slaveholders and raise their status due to their already acquired capital ($) The Planter-Elite (2.5% of the pop.) owned 50+ slaves, usually inherited their wealth, and sought to expand it

16 Plantation Life Wealthy planters lived fairly isolated lives
Though some planters engaged in aristocratic lives in the style of English gentlemen, plantations were large, self-sufficient enterprises requiring much attention to a variety of tasks The plantation mistress, the wife of the owner, ran the household and usually supervised slave labor, yet would never challenge her husband’s authority

17 Coercion and Violence Slave owners were both cruel and benevolent, but strict discipline and harsh punishments were the normal practice Slave women were vulnerable to sexual exploitation, though long-term relationships did develop Children of master-slave relationships were seldom made public knowledge and often remained in bondage

18 Developing Pro-Slavery Arguments
Justification for slavery came from the Bible or from Classical civilizations (Greece and Rome) The Constitution recognized slavery, thus it was law, and property rights must be defended After the MO Compromise and Nat Turner Rebellion, by the 1830s southern states began to barricade themselves from outside abolitionist propaganda In 1836, southern states introduced a gag rule in Congress to prevent considerations of abolition-themed bills The South feared that the abolitionist movement meant no opportunity for expansion and a lesser voice in government

19 Changes in the South The growing cost of slaves meant that the percentage of slaveholders was declining and class divisions were widening The number of urban slaves declined significantly with the disintegrating of the slave system in southern cities The economic changes hurt poor whites and yeomen as land became harder to buy and more expensive to maintain


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