Chapter 11: Slaves and Masters

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1 Chapter 11: Slaves and Masters AP United States History Week of January 11, 2016

2 First: Demographics of the South Pictured: Myrtles Plantation, Louisiana The Old South was an area of significant inequality and social stratification Social classes in the South: Race: whites were free, most Blacks were slaves White society divided by class (wealth, resources Black society: free vs. unfree

3 First: Demographics of the South, Part II The Old South was an area of significant inequality and social stratification Demographics of the US 1860: 31.4 million people, 3.9 million slaves and 488,000 free blacks US was 14% black (about 12% today) Black population was 11.8% free 25% of families in the South owned slaves 33% by other estimates Unequal distribution of slave ownership Less than 1% of slaveowners owned 20-30% of all slaves

4 First: Demographics of the South, Part III Pictured: George, who escaped from a Louisiana plantation in 1863 The Old South was an area of significant inequality and social stratification Social classes in the South Planter class: 4% of white population were planter class Small slaveholders represented 88% of slaveholders Usually owned <20 slaves, most had <10 Yeoman farmers: self-reliant, land-owning farmers Blacks: even free blacks (about 6% of black in South) identified with slaves

5 The World of Southern Blacks Although slave life depended on where exactly slaves worked (large plantations, smaller farms, or industry), slaves were largely a perpetual underclass in the Antebellum South Roughly 90% of slaves worked on plantations or farms Slave majority in lower South, white majority in upper South Slaves performed field work, but also work within homes and within slave community Work was more diverse in cities Family was institution that saved slaves Stable traditional families often existed on large plantations Slaves were often sold out on smaller plantations and farms Kinship provided a model for relationships and gave a sense of community Free blacks were still reined in by laws limiting freedom Even blacks born free could fall victim to fugitive slave laws

6 African American Religion Religion was the cornerstone of emerging African American culture, and religious expression blended traditional evangelical Protestantism with African cultural traditions Rev. Richard Allen formed the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) church in 1816 Most slaves, however, encountered religion outside of church settings Religion was more an affirmation of joy than rejection of worldly pleasures and temptations Comparison: how did African-American religion differ from white religion of the Great Awakening? Slave sermons spoke about the plight of bondage Swing low, sweet chariot Deep Down In My Heart

7 Resistance Resistance to slavery was persistent; after 1831, resistance took more nonviolent forms Gabriel Prosser (1800) marched on Richmond, but was suppressed by whites Denmark Vesey led the Vesey conspiracy in 1822 in Charleston, SC Well-planned, but ultimately did not launch Nat Turner (1831) was largest; killed nearly 60 whites across VA plantations Captured after only 48 hours Later, nonviolent resistance Sabotage, stealing, laziness Escape: Underground Railroad Ideological: abolitionist writings (forthcoming) More violence: John Brown and Bleeding Kansas, 1850s (forthcoming)

8 White Society in Antebellum South Despite antebellum Southern imagery, most southern whites were nonslaveholding yeoman farmers. Further, all whites in the south depended on slavery, either economically or psychologically. Divisions within white society existed, however The Great planters had a substantial influence on southern life Largely, they were not descendants of colonial gentry Planters had to be shrewd entrepreneurs Did not live a life of leisure Planters proslavery ideology stemmed from paternalism and capitalism Blacks were mentally and morally inferior, and needed to be cared for and protected as perpetual children Slaves were a form of capital in an economic system that gave planters their status Planters authority grew from slaves fear

9 Small Slaveholders and Yeoman Farmers Despite antebellum Southern imagery, most southern whites were nonslaveholding yeoman farmers. Further, all whites in the south depended on slavery, either economically or psychologically. Divisions within white society existed, however Many small slaveholders were urban merchants who needed slaves as domestic help, or farmers who worked alongside slaves Relations were more intimate than on large estates Slightly less preservation of African cultural traditions Yeoman farmers were concentrated in the southern backcountry where slaves and plantations were uncommon Lived in foothills and interior valleys suited to diversified farming and livestock (Other class: mountaineers lived on land too high to farm) Women in households largely shared workload If they did not own slaves or benefit directly from slavery, why did they support it?

10 Closed Mind, Closed Society Why did the South hold onto their views of slavery so fervently? Reasons notwithstanding, two fears existed: armed rebellion and ideological opposition Slavery apologists existed in the upper South before 1830s American Colonization Society advocated a return to Liberia After Nat Turner (1831), slavery was seen as a positive good Three strands of proslavery arguments: Enslavement is the proper and natural status for Africans Slavery is sanctioned by the Bible and Christianity Blacks were naturally dependent and needed an institution capable of caring for them Additionally, the South levied harsh criticisms of the lives of industrial workers in the North Eventually, gag orders and prohibition of abolitionist literature surfaced

11 Slavery and the Southern Economy Southern economy transformed itself according to the needs to the slave system, because the slave system was the reason for the South s economic development. Everyone saw their interests as tied up in slavery Number of slaves tripled from Invention of the cotton gin increased profitability of large plantations Also resulted in internal slave trade from upper South to lower South The South largely saw its economic success as being inextricably linked to cotton production, and hence slavery Success and profitability of agriculture prevented South from developing a diversified, industrial economy Profitability of slavery was, however, largely linked to access to large plantations This resulted in uneven economic development in the South

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