Aim #33: What were the southern arguments in defense of slavery? This Louisiana slave named Gordon was photographed in 1863 after he had escaped to Union lines during the Civil War. He bears the permanent scars of the violence that lay at the heart of the slave system. Few slaves were so brutally marked, but all lived with the threat of beatings if they failed to obey. SOURCE:National Archives and Records Administration.
MAP 10.2a Cotton Production and the Slave Population, 1820. In the forty-year period from 1820 to 1860, cotton production grew dramatically in both quantity and extent. Rapid westward expansion meant that by 1860 cotton production was concentrated in the black belt (so called for its rich soils) in the Lower South. As cotton production moved west and south, so did the enslaved African American population that produced it, causing a dramatic rise in the internal slave trade.SOURCE:Sam Bowers Hilliard,Atlas of Antebellum Southern Agriculture (Baton Rouge:Lousiana State University Press,1984).
FIGURE 10.2 Distribution of Slave Labor, 1850 In 1850, 55 percent of all slaves worked in cotton, 10 percent in tobacco, and another 10 percent in rice, sugar, and hemp. Ten percent worked in mining, lumbering, industry, and construction, and 15 percent worked as domestic servants. Slaves were not generally used to grow corn, the staple crop of the yeoman farmer.
FIGURE 10.1 Cotton Exports as a Percentage of All U.S. Exports, 1800–1860 One consequence of the growth of cotton production was its importance in international trade. The growing share of the export market, and the great value (nearly $200 million in 1860) led southern slave owners to believe that “Cotton Is King.” The importance of cotton to the national economy entitled the South to a commanding voice in national policy, many Southerners believed. SOURCE:Sam Bowers Hilliard,Atlas of Antebellum Southern Agriculture (Baton Rouge:Louisiana State University Press,1984),pp.67 –71.
This engraving from Harpers Weekly shows slaves, dressed in new clothing, lined up outside a New Orleans slave pen for inspection by potential buyers before the actual auction began. They were often threatened with punishment if they did not present a good appearance and manner that would fetch a high price. SOURCE:U.S.slave market,ca.1863, in New Orleans.Courtesy of Culver Pictures,Inc.
Slave quarters built by slave owners, like these pictured on a Florida plantation, provided more than the basic shelter (a place to sleep and eat) that the owners intended. Slave quarters were the center of the African American community life that developed during slavery. SOURCE:Remains of Slave Quarters, Fort George Island, Florida, ca.1865.Stereograph.(c)Collection of The New York Historical Society.
Life of a Slave • Some slaves worked as house servants. • Some slaves were skilled workers. • 75 percent of slaves worked as field hands • Many suffered from poor health.
FIGURE 10.3 Slaveholding and Class Structure in the South, 1830 The great mass of the southern white population were yeoman farmers. In 1830, slave owners made up only 36 percent of the southern white population; owners of more than fifty slaves constituted a tiny 2.5 percent. Yet they and the others who were middling planters dominated politics, retaining the support of yeomen who prized their freedom as white men above class-based politics. SOURCE:U.S.Bureau of the Census.
This 1841 proslavery cartoon contrasts healthy, well-cared-for African American slaves with unemployed British factory workers living in desperate poverty. The comparison between contented southern slaves and miserable northern “wage slaves” was frequently made by proslavery advocates. SOURCE:Library of Congress.
MAP 10.4 Population Patterns in the South, 1850 In South Carolina and Mississippi, the enslaved African American population outnumbered the white population; in four other Lower South states, the percentage was above 40 percent. These ratios frightened many white Southerners. White people also feared the free black population, though only three states in the Upper South and Louisiana had free black populations of over 3 percent. Six states had free black populations that were so small (less than 1 percent) as to be statistically insignificant.
(I) SOUTHERN DEFENSE OF SLAVERY (already on handout) • Slaves become part of the family (paternalistic) • Sudden end to slavery would economically hurt the south • Slaves are incapable of being educated • Freeing slaves would lead to uprisings, bloodshed and anarchy • Slavery has always existed (Greeks had slaves, Romans had slaves) • Will end cash crops • Bible (Abraham had slaves) • Slaves have it better than free blacks in the north
(II) THEORIES IN DEFENSE OF SLAVERY • Mudsill theory: (Senator Hammond) belief that there must be, and always has been, a lower class for the upper classes to rest upon. (the term derives from a mudsill, the lowest threshold that supports the foundation for a building) b. Positive good theory (John C. Calhoun): with its strict, unchanging social hierarchy, the south has a more stable society than the north c. George Fitzhugh: slaves, working towards a common interest whereas north looking out for themselves