Early Emancipation in the North
Missouri Compromise, 1820
Slavery in the South
• At the dawn of the American revolution, many
believed that slavery was on a slow decline,
much to do with its economic inefficiency and
also from the idealism of the revolution.
• Eli Whitney’s Cotton Gin, which made cotton
profitable and it also needed a huge labor
force. As a result, it chained the slave to the
gin and the planter to the slave.
Cotton is King!!!!
• Cotton became an instant boom crop and many
planters raced to gain more land in the gulf states. As
they got more land, they wanted more slaves, so they
could plant more cotton, so they could reap more
financial rewards. It became cyclical.
• The North is guilty too. They made huge amounts of
money on the cheap available southern cotton in the
northern textile mills (where cheap wage slaves
worked). Also, Northern shippers transported massive
amounts of cotton to Britain and made huge profits.
• The prosperity of both the North and the South
depended heavily on slave labor, the North indirectly
and the South directly.
Cotton is King!!!!
• In 1840, 50% of the value of American exports was
• In 1840, the South produced more than half of the
entire world’s supply of cotton.
• 75 percent of the cotton used in Britain, who employed
20% of its workforce in textiles, was from the South.
• The main point, Cotton was making a killing and
southern plantation owners essentially had a
monopoly on the world’s cotton market.
• So much so, the South believed that if a war were to
happen between the North and South, the British
Royal Navy would stop any attempts by the North to
blockade the South’s cotton.
Southern A griculture
Changes in Cotton Production
Slaves Picking Cotton
on a Mississippi Plantation
Slaves Using the Cotton Gin
Value of Cotton Exports
As % of All US Exports
Southern Aristocracy
• South is an oligarchy because of the wealth
and influence of the planter aristocracy.
– 1,733 families owned more than 100 slaves each.
– These families provided the cream of the political
and social leadership.
– Image of the large columned white plantation
house of the “cottonocracy”
• Sir Walter Scott
– Famous author idolized in the South because he
wrote about feudal society with manors and
castles. Many southern plantation owners viewed
themselves as lords and kings in a feudal society.
This is why they were attracted to Scott’s books,
they reflected their archaic medieval society.
Tara – Plantation Reality or
Hollywood’s Version?
Women and the Plantations
• Women who married plantation owners
controlled a sizable household staff:
– Cooks, maids, seamstresses, laundresses, and
body servants
• Bonds varied between households. Some
women had affectionate bonds while others
were cruel and mistreated the slaves.
• However, despite accounts of kindness,
essentially no slaveholding women believed in
abolition or advocated for it.
Plantation Waste
• Plantations were actually quite wasteful and inefficient.
– Harsh for the land and destroyed the soil
– Economy became more monopolistic and many small farmers
were forced to leave to the West or Northwest to eek out a
living. Basically, the big got bigger and the small got smaller.
(Think Walmart and small mom and pop stores)
• Additionally, it was financially unstable.
– Overpopulation in land and slaves caused economic instability
and debt
– Slaves represented a heavy investment of capital
– Dependence on one-crop economy (think the Irish and the
potato). So no manufacturing, which made the South
dependent upon the North
Characteristics of the
Antebellum South
1. Primarily agrarian.
2. Economic power shifted from the
“upper South” to the “lower South.”
3. “Cotton Is King!”
* 1860 5 mil. bales a yr.
(57% of total US exports).
4. Very slow development of industrialization.
5. Rudimentary financial system.
6. Inadequate transportation system.
Southern Society (1850)
[plantation owners]
1,733 Families
Other Slaveowners (345,000 families)
2/3 of which owned less than
10 slaves each) 1.7 million people
Whites who owned no slaves
6.1 million people
Black Freemen
Black Slaves
Total US Population  23,000,000
[9,250,000 in the South = 40%]
Slave-Owning Population (1850)
Slave-Owning Families (1850)
Southern Population
White non-plantation population
• Usually owned no more than 10 slaves and
many families had one or 2 slaves.
Sometimes up to a family of slaves
• In total, only ¼ of the southern white
population owned slaves.
• There were 6,120, 825 white non slave
owners in the south
– They scraped a living and life was tough. Lived a
simple life in the mountains or in the backcountry
– Viewed plantation owners as a snobocracy and
benefitted little from slavery.
White non-plantation population
• However, why did the poor white nonslave owners defend slavery?
– Idea of perhaps owning slaves themselves
and improving their lot, gaining their southern
American Dream
– Took solace in idea of racial superiority of
whites that was preached in the South and
that even though southern whites were poor,
slaves still ranked below them on the social
Mountain folk
• Isolated from the rest of the South in the
Appalachian mountains. Kind of a throwback
to an earlier time and stuck in time. Some
even kept some Elizabethan speech
• Little in common with the other whites and far
from King Cotton.
• During the Civil war, many of these whites in
the mountains sided with the Union and
helped in winning the war for the North.
African American Population
• In 1860, roughly 250,000 free blacks lived in
the South.
– Upper South- many emancipated after the spirit of
idealism spread during the revolutionary War
– Deep South- many free blacks were mulattoes.
However, some free blacks also purchased their
freedom with earnings from labor after hours.
• In New Orleans, there was a sizable mulatto
population and many owned property. William
T. Johnson was a free black in New Orleans
who owned 15 slaves.
Laws Against Free Blacks
• In many ways, free blacks in the South were like a
“third race”:
– Forbidden from certain jobs and testifying against whites in
– Constant fear of being kidnapped by slave traders
– Slave system saw them as a threat because they were
examples of what a non-slave society could achieve.
• In the North: (250,000 free blacks)
– Some states forbade entrance, most denied right to vote,
and some barred free blacks from school.
– The Irish often fought against free blacks in the North
because they competed for jobs with them.
• Frederick Douglas was mobbed and beaten in the
North many times.
– Common thought of the day was that southerners hated
blacks as a race but liked the individuals while northerners
professed they liked the race, but disliked individual blacks.
Southern Slavery
• In 1860, estimated 4 million slaves in the
South (quadrupled since 1800)
• Legal importation was banned in 1808,
– Illegal slave trade continued as many smuggled
– N.P. Gordon, was hanged for participating in illegal
slave trade in 1862 in New York. Only recorded
time of a slave trader being punished executed.
– Bulk of the increase came from natural
reproduction, which made American slave
population unique in the world.
Plantation Life
• Slaves primarily seen as investments,
and 2 billion dollars sunk into slavery by
1860. Thus, as any capitalist, planters
looked to make sure their investment
was cared for as an asset
– As a result, many slaves were barred from
doing dangerous work. This was usually
done by Irish laborers, if a next was to be
broken, better it was not a slave.
Slave Auction Notice, 1823
Slave auctions were
brutal sights and showed
the lack of humanity that
was the slave system.
Many families were
separated. Many slaves
were sold alongside cattle
and horses, further
diminishing their humanity.
One of the worst legacies
of slavery was the lack of
concern in keeping families
together and the separation
of families at these slave
Slave Auction: Charleston, SC-1856
Slave Accoutrements
Slave Master
Slave muzzle
Life on the plantations varied greatly based on the slave owner.
However, everywhere meant hard work, ignorance, and oppression.
Slaves worked from dawn to dusk everyday, under constant threat of
the overseer and his whip. No civil or political rights and could not
testify in court.
Slave Accoutrements
Slave leg irons
Slave tag, SC
Slave shoes
Floggings were common because
The whip was an alternative to the
Wage-incentive system. Some
Slaves sent to the “breaker” who
Used cruel lashings to “break” a
Slaves will to resist.
Anti-Slave Pamphlet
Slaves posing
in front of
their cabin on
a Southern
By 1860, majority of slaves lived in the Deep South were
Cotton Farming was the most practiced. In some counties,
Slaves accounted for over 75% of the population. This
allowed for secure family life and also the creation of a
Distinct African-American culture.
African-American Culture
• Signs of family continuity evidenced in the
– Practice of naming children for grandparents and
surnames not of their current master, but of a
forebear’s master
– Avoiding marriage between first cousins, displaying
African cultural roots
– In religion, many embraced Christianity, but mixed
it with African elements.
– Evident in the responsorial style of preaching,
which was an adaptation of traditions in Africa
A Slave Family
T he Culture of Slavery
1. Black Christianity [Baptists or Methodists]:
* more emotional worship services.
* negro spirituals.
2. “Pidgin” or Gullah languages.
3. Nuclear family with extended kin links,
where possible.
4. Importance of music in their lives. [esp.
Slave Resistance
1. Destroying crops and pilfering food.
Sabotaging expensive equipment, and
sometimes poisoned master’s food.
Caricature of
Slave Resistance
2. Refusal to work hard.
3. Isolated acts of sabotage.
4. Escape via the Underground Railroad.
Runaway Slave Ads
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.
Harriet Tubman
e Helped over 300 slaves
to freedom.
e $40,000 bounty on her
e Served as a Union spy
during the Civil War.
Leading Escaping Slaves Along
the Underground Railroad
T he Underground Railroad
T he Underground Railroad
e “Conductor” ==== leader of the escape
e “Passengers” ==== escaping slaves
e “Tracks” ==== routes
e “Trains” ==== farm wagons transporting
the escaping slaves
e “Depots” ==== safe houses to rest/sleep
Slavery Was Less Efficient
in the U. S. than Elsewhere
High cost of keeping slaves from
GOAL  raise the “exit cost.”
Slave patrols.
Southern Black Codes.
Cut off a toe or a foot.
Slave Rebellions
in the Antebellum South
Gabriel Prosser
Slave Rebellions in the Antebellum South:
Nat Turner, 1831
American Colonization Society
• In 1817, American Colonization Society
founded with the purpose of transporting
blacks back to Africa.
• In 1822, country of Liberia founded in
West Africa for this purpose (capital
Monrovia after President James Monroe)
• 15,000 Blacks and ex-slaves moved to
Liberia over the next four decades.
However, idea was not attractive to many
because most southern slaves were
African-Americans born in America with
their own distinct culture separate from
African culture.
1830’s and Abolition
• 1833, Great Britain banned slavery in West
• Second Great Awakening spurred and
inspired the abolition movement also
• Theodore Dwight Weld was evangelized by
Finney and became an ardent supporter of
abolition. Went to Lane Theological Seminary,
where he and other students were expelled
for waging an 18 day debate on slavery.
• In 1839, he published American Slavery as It
Is. Almost nearly as influential as Uncle
Tom's cabin.
W illiam Lloyd Garrison
e Slavery & Masonry
undermined republican
e Immediate emancipation
with NO compensation.
e Slavery was a moral, not
an economic issue.
e 1831, published The
Liberator. In 1833,
founded the American
Anti-Slavery Society
T he Liberator
Premiere issue  January 1, 1831
Black Abolitionists
David Walker
1829  Appeal to the Coloured
Citizens of the World
- Called for the bloody end to
white suprmecy.
Fight for freedom rather than
wait to be set free by whites.
Sojourner Truth (1787-1883)
or Isabella Baumfree
1850  The Narrative of Sojourner Truth
Frederick Douglass (1817-1895)
1845  The Narrative of the Life
Of Frederick Douglass
1847  “The North Star”
Party Support
• Many abolitionists supported the Liberty
Party in 1840, the Free-Soil Party in 1848,
and finally the republican Party in the
• In 1830’s Southern states moved to
silence any abolition movements in the
South and any ideas of emancipation. Nat
Turner’s rebellion played a huge role as
well as the Nullification Crisis of 1832
Southern Pro-Slavery
Also compared slavery
To the wage slaves of the
North and said slavery was
Kinder. These arguments further increased the chasm
Between the north and south.
Gag Resolution
• In 1836, southern members of Congress
got the Gag resolution passed. It required
all anti-slavery appeals to be tabled
without debate. This awakened John
Quincy Adams fought for 8 years to have it
Southern Slavery--> An Aberration?
 1780s: 1st antislavery society created in Phila.
 By 1804: slavery eliminated from last
northern state.
 1807: the legal termination of the slave
trade, enforced by the Royal Navy.
 1820s: newly indep. Republics of Central &
So. America declared their slaves free.
 1833: slavery abolished throughout the British
 1844: slavery abolished in the Fr. colonies.
 1861: the serfs of Russia were emancipated.
US Laws Regarding Slavery
1. U. S. Constitution:
* 3/5s compromise [I.2]
* fugitive slave clause [IV.2]
2. 1793  Fugitive Slave Act.
3. 1850  stronger Fugitive Slave Act.

The Antebellum South - Dearborn Public Schools