History 201. African American History Civil War Era Slavery Reconstruction and the Nadir of Race Relations in America . Introduction. Past 50 yrs much ink has been spilled defining, explaining, and trying to come to grips with the “Peculiar Institution.”
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Hard to believe that a people would go to war over an issue that in essence was a non-issue—if one is gaining concessions—why then did the argument remain so harsh and volatile—obviously the argument was over something much deeper and emotional.
This something was Slavery.
African American slavery can be divided into two periods: 1) Colonial years, about 1650—1790;
2) From the invention of the Cotton Gin (1793) until the end of the Civil War (1865) with the defeat of the South and the ratification of the 13th amendment which stated that “neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as punishment for crime—shall exist in the United States or any place subject to its jurisdiction.”
With the arrival of Independence northern states began to regard slavery as an unnecessary evil—the true nature of the American economy should be based on diversification—slavery was contradictory to the ideals of the revolution—(NW Ordinance, State constitutions, and Seasonal economies).
Northern states began to emancipate slaves. Where they did not emancipate, once the slaves died or moved to other areas the institution would not be replaced—slavery was rapidly evaporating in the North due to emancipation or attrition. (John Adams Philosophy)
By 1820, there were only 3,000 slaves in the North and almost all of them on large farms in New Jersey—slavery was easily abolished in the north because there were never a tremendous number nor was slave labor a vital component of the northern economy.
In the beginning in the north before the abolitionist’s attitude began to permeate northern society, the demand for immediate emancipation of northern slavery was because the white laborers did not want to compete with slaves for their jobs.
The South was a different story. The African American population both slave and free was much larger in the South—Virginia and South Carolina alone accounted for nearly half of the slave population in the South—
Many slave owners allowed slaves to hire their own time and live in the towns and industrial areas and find their own work—this benefited the slave owner because he could now make a profit off his slaves by hiring them out and lessen the cost of up keep—
Missouri Compromises of 1820 and 1830
The constitution forbid government interference with slavery where it already existed—abolitionists hoped to prevent its expansion into the territories
Missouri sought to enter the union in 1818 as a slave state—this upset the political balance between free soil and slave states—
admitted Maine as a free soil state and Mo. As a slave state to maintain the senatorial balance—Remember Alabama had entered as a slave state (1819)–the Senate was perfectly balanced.