Essential Questions: Was slavery profitable? How do cotton and slave holding shape southern culture? What is the nature of white social structure? What is the interaction between white and slave culture like? What are the characteristics of slave culture? What factors made the South a “Closed” society? How does southern society contrast with that developing in the North?
Slavery and the Nation “Slavery shaped the lives of all Americans, white as well as black. It helped to determine where they lived, how they worked and under what conditions they could exercise their freedoms of speech, assembly and press. Northern merchants and manufacturers participated in the slave economy and shared in its profits. Money earned in the cotton trade helped to finance industrial development and internal improvements in the North.” Foner
Two Souths Upper South Agriculturally diverse Slave trade Second Middle Passage Lower South Cotton Dependant Opportunity “white gold”
King Cotton Great profit but skewed opportunity One way to gain wealth S. remains rural & agrarian – fewer immigrants – little for free white labor Few/no manufacturing opportunities Single crop dependant Dependant on N. for capital & market Wealthy but fears colonial status and becoming a minority – how to protect social system = key issue
Critics: dependence on N. “ The South Grew, But Did Not develop.” DeBow Need for diversification 1845 – First textile mill - Richmond Gregg Need for industrialization
Slavery Primarily a system to control & manage labor Essential to the profitability of the large plantation Essential to the social system of the South 25% - slave holding 75% non-slave-holding 1-3% = gentry---controls political, economic and social system
Southern Society (1850) The “Plain Folk” [white yeoman farmers] “Slavocracy” [plantation owners] Black Freemen Black Slaves 3,200,000 Total US Population --> 23,000,000 [9,250,000 in the South = 40%] 6,000,000 250,000
White Social Structure Planter Elite – planter = 20 slaves; 800- 1000 acres Self made businessmen Chivalry & paternalism “paternal ethos” the “family” – idea “masks and justifies the brutal reality of slavery” 316 Limited contact w/ slaves (overseers) Plantation Mistress Isolated Many responsibilities Miscegenation Benefit from slave - holding
White Social Structure – the plain folk Yeomen Farmers – 80-160 acres; no slaves Lack capital & credit Lack access to transportation and marketing Isolated – geographically & socially Livestock, subsistence farming Limited class conflict –RACISM Ideas of liberty White supremacy
White Social Structure: Mountaineers- isolated; autonomous; resented any government and planters Non-land holding tenant farmers – want land – no capital Poor whites – virtually no economic opportunity; resent planters; hate slaves/free blacks
Why support for slave-holding system? Planter/cotton control of the economic, social & political system Status anxiety - white supremacy Hopes and opportunity Challenge – Helper; Yeomen hurt by slavery, can’t compete; limits opportunity
Interaction of the communities Peculiar Institution = defining of the culture – OURS; superior & unifying Separate spheres – but bonded Slaves better treatment in US due to closed slave trade – large natural increase Characteristics: white to black Paternalism –white supremacy Principle of fear – must control labor sale & family division; the whip; literacy Commodification – Johnson essay Internal divisions & non-gendered work Incentives slave codes
The Ledger of John White Matilda Selby, 9, $400.00 sold to Mr. Covington, St. Louis, $425.00 Brooks Selby, 19, $750.00 Left at Home – Crazy Fred McAfee, 22, $800.00 Sold to Pepidal, Donaldsonville, $1200.00 Howard Barnett, 25, $750.00 Ranaway. Sold out of jail, $540.00 Harriett Barnett, 17, $550.00 Sold to Davenport and Jones, Lafourche, $900.00
Nat Turner’s Rebellion: A Historical Marker You have been commissioned by the state of Virginia Historical Trust to develop an historical marker that will be placed along the roadside adjacent to the area to the area impacted by Nat Turner and his followers. Your task is to develop the inscription for the marker that describes your interpretation of Nat Turner and his actions. Your inscriptions should take into account: The specific factors involved in the event The various reactions to Nat Turner (artistic, and other)
Why I came to this decision (What documents most impacted your decisions and why):
The Richmond Enquirer and Richmond Whig, 1831 Both newspapers were published in a southern city and were read widely by planters throughout the region. Tended to promote the political views of the upper-class planters who paid to subscribe to the paper.
Thomas R. Grey, The Confessions of Nat Turner, 1831 After his capture and arrest on October 30, 1831, Nat Turner was imprisoned in the Southampton County Jail, where he was interviewed by Thomas R. Gray, a Southern physician, failed planter and slave owner. Grey stated that only Turner’s words were recorded but in numerous instances Grey’s words appear in the “Confessions.”
William S. Drewery, Slave Insurrections in Virginia, 1900 A white Virginian who grew up near the area of the rebellion and descended from a family of planters and slave owners. He studied Nat Turner for his dissertation at Johns Hopkins. He read lots of primary sources, interviewed whites and blacks that knew people alive in 1831. He believed that slavery was a good thing that slaves were happy, and that slaves rarely rebelled.
John W. Cromwell-“The Aftermath of Nat Turner’s Insurrection,” The Journal of Negro History, 1920 Born a slave in Portsmouth, Virginia his father purchased the families freedom and sent John to a private school in Philadelphia. He became a teacher, writer, and political activist. Was one of the first to write in what will eventually be called African American History.
Herbert Aptheker, American Negro Slave Revolts, 1943 Hated segregation and racial stereotypes, believed that slavery was exploitive and that slave rebellions occurred frequently. Was a member of the Communist Party of the United States, and in the 1950s was blacklisted for his beliefs. A committed labor unionist, he believed that tensions between social classes were important to understanding the past.
Learning to Think Historically: A Tool for Attacking Historical Sources Text: What is visible/readable--what information is provided by the source? Context: What was going on during the time period? What background information do you have that helps explain the information found in the source? Subtext: What is between the lines? Must ask questions about: Author: Who created the source and what do we know about that person? Audience: For whom was the source created? Reason: Why was this source produced at the time it was produced?
On the night of 21-22 August 1831, Nat Turner, a slave preacher, began an insurrection some seven miles west with a band that grew to about 70. They moved northeast toward the Southampton County seat, Jerusalem (now Courtland), killing about 60 Whites. After two days militiamen and armed civilians quelled the revolt. Turner was captured on 30 October, tried and convicted, and hanged 11 November; some 30 Blacks were hanged or expelled from Virginia. In response to the revolt, the General Assembly passed harsher slave laws and censored abolitionists.
1831 Nat Turner’s Rebellion Garrison – abolitionist ideas – The Liberator Br – abolished slavery throughout the empire Virginia debate Impact – stifle dissent and increase advocacy of the pro-slavery ideology -- Southern solidarity and insularity Lincoln – reasoning to support those who benefit
Virginia Debate 1831-1832 Issue = gradual emancipation Last open discussion of slave holding Closed Mind/Closed Society – stifle dissent Shows division of Upper and Lower South Planter elite ----solidarity (Calhoun) – creates unity and identity
Pro-Slavery Arguments “slavery as a positive good” (change in emphasis) creates stronger control & unity – a perfect hierarchal, orderly society – everyone knows one’s place – creates stability and success White Supremacy = basis of unity Biblical, political, scientific, economic and social arguments (Fitzhugh) – key to progress Contrast w/ “wage slavery” of the North No true freedom for whites w/o slavery Stifle dissent – “closed mind, closed society”
Interaction of communities Characteristics: black to white Dual socialization Impenetrable mask Free blacks More urban areas Cities – craftsmen more autonomy More in upper South More females More mulattoes More restricted – fragile freedoms – caste Discrimination (true N & S) Negro Convention
Slave Culture Permits community, growth and psychological support for survival Unique – created from African tradition and American experience Dual socialization – folk tales Impenetrable mask
Grounding Institutions Religion Invisible institution AME Ring shout Affirmation and Joy OWN institution spirituals Family Nuclear, but within community Traditional gender roles - slave qtrs Equality of powerlessness Norms w/in culture Kinship/sisterhood “othermothers” Threats – break up
Takaki – A Different Mirror slave resistance “The reality for many slaves may have been even more complex than a duality of roles. Some Sambo-like behavior may have been not so much a veil to hide inner emotions as a means of expressing them. Lying, stealing, laziness, immaturity and ignorance all contained within them an aggressive quality; they constituted, in effect, resistance to efficiency, discipline, work and productivity.”
Quilt Patterns as Secret Messages The Monkey Wrench pattern, on the left, alerted escapees to gather up tools and prepare to flee; the Drunkard Path design, on the right, warned escapees not to follow a straight route.
Ideas of FREEDOM White Hegemonic – owning and controlling Structured society Freedom – tied to slave holding system Freedom = a privilege Obedience The Priestly tradition Black The ideals of the declaration The injustice of slavery Freedom = a right Constant goal – jubilee The Exodus The Prophetic tradition
Political Impact N-S Cultures quite similar – but defined by diverging cultures yeomen Belief in (and seeking) opportunity – for white men Belief in democracy Socially egalitarian Evangelical Protestants Whigs & Democrats – both can be destabilized