The old south an illusion of unity
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The “Old South”: An Illusion of Unity. The “Solid South” has always been more fiction than fact—even in the years just prior to the Civil War. I. The Unifying Element: Slavery. Reason for slavery in the Antebellum Deep South Slavery in the Upper South

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The “Old South”: An Illusion of Unity

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The old south an illusion of unity

The “Old South”: An Illusion of Unity

The “Solid South” has always been more fiction than fact—even in the years just prior to the Civil War.


I the unifying element slavery

I. The Unifying Element: Slavery

  • Reason for slavery in the Antebellum Deep South

  • Slavery in the Upper South

  • Population growth lagging behind the North

  • Distinctively Southern


Ii geographic divisions

II. Geographic Divisions


A upper south

A. Upper South

  • What states are we talking about?

  • Agricultural diversity

  • Important source of slaves for the Deep South

    -- “Sold down the river”

  • A lot in common with the Northwest—Where did the future lie for this region?


B the cotton kingdom

B. The Cotton Kingdom

  • What states are we talking about?

  • Climate suitable for plantation agriculture and the growth of predominantly cash crops

  • Economies of scale in cotton production

  • Cotton was an economical crop to keep gang labor busy

  • Cotton belt moved westward over time


B cotton kingdom cont

B. Cotton Kingdom (cont.)

  • Explosion in the production of cotton

  • Boom and bust cycles in cotton production

  • Deep South agriculture was anything but a single crop system

  • Calls for southern industrialization (more true of the Upper South)

  • Was slavery profitable?

  • Deep South remained backward economically


Iii slaveholding society hidden fracture in the class structure

III. Slaveholding Society: “Hidden Fracture” in the Class Structure


A the planter class

A. The Planter Class

  • Slavery created the illusion of white equality while actually creating severe inequality

  • Number of southern planters

  • Picture of the typical southern planter


A the planter class cont

A. The Planter Class (cont.)

  • Aspired to a social status similar to European nobility

  • The Planter’s Family

  • Southern “cult of honor”

  • The violent side of southern plantation life


B planter slave relations

B. Planter/Slave Relations

  • A paternalistic relationship

  • Slaves treated on the whole better than in other slaveholding societies

  • Length of a slave’s day

  • Problems with disease

  • Feeding and clothing the slaves

  • The circumstances for slave children

  • Varying relationships with the master

  • Disciplining Slave Labor


C the world of the non planter whites

C. The World of the Non-Planter Whites

  • The life of the Non-Planter, slave-owning whites

  • Most slave preferred life on the larger plantations

  • The life of the non-slaveholding family farmer—the “yeoman” farmer

  • The People of the Pine Barrens

  • Why no opposition to slavery in the south?


Iv ideological tension in the old south

IV. Ideological Tension in the Old South

  • Defense of slavery before 1830

    -- “necessary evil”

  • A crucial shift: 1831

  • Defense of slavery after 1831

    -- “a positive good”

    -- Cannibals All! Or Slaves Without Masters (1857)

  • The inherent problem with “states rights” thinking


V the world the slaves made

V. The World the Slaves Made


A slave resistance

A. Slave Resistance

  • Open Rebellion

    --Richmond, Va. (1800): Gabriel Prosser

    --Charleston, S.C. (1822): Denmark Vesey

    --Southampton, Va. (1831): Nat Turner

  • Run Away

  • Passive Resistance

    -- “Puttin’ one over on Ole Massah”


B the free black experience

B. The Free Black Experience

  • Number of Free Blacks in U.S. in 1860

  • Social and political outcasts wherever they lived

  • Semi-slaves in the south

  • Large number of mulattoes in southern cities

  • Famous Free Black Abolitionists


B the free black experience cont

B. The Free Black Experience (cont.)

  • Douglass’ North Star (1847)

  • Freedom always at risk

  • Some slaves and Free Blacks in the south supported the planter regime

  • Dramatic rescues of fugitive slaves

    -- Rescue of Shadrack (1851)


C african american slave religion

C. African-American Slave Religion

  • Inner resources and dignity to resist slavery

  • Cornerstone of emerging African-American culture

  • Free Blacks formed the first African-American denominations

    --A.M.E. Church (1816)

  • Slave Religion

  • Popular Themes


D slave family life

D. Slave Family Life

  • Strength of slave marriages

  • Close, affectionate relationships

  • Greatest fear = break-up by sale

  • Importance of extended families

  • Vehicle for the transmission of the African-American folk tradition


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