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Chapter 11. Life of the People in Antebellum Society. Prosperity in Antebellum Georgia. Antebellum, a word that means before the war. The antebellum period was a time of prosperity in Georgia. 1850s Georgia was called “Empire State of the South” Factors for economy Slavery Cotton.

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chapter 11

Chapter 11

Life of the People in Antebellum Society

prosperity in antebellum georgia
Prosperity in Antebellum Georgia
  • Antebellum, a word that means before the war.
  • The antebellum period was a time of prosperity in Georgia.
    • 1850s Georgia was called “Empire State of the South”
    • Factors for economy
      • Slavery
      • Cotton
  • Savannah was Georgia’s largest city with 22,000 people and most important industrial center.
  • This port connected planters, manufacturers and merchants to their markets.
  • Other cities that were prospering were near the Fall Line such as Columbus, Macon and Augusta
king cotton comes to georgia
King Cotton Comes to Georgia
  • 2 varieties of cotton – sea island cotton, which had long fibers and was very soft and a short fiber variety that yielded more per acre than the sea island cotton. Short fiber cotton had lots of seeds that were very hard to remove.
  • Eli Whitney’s cotton gin made it possible to take the seeds out of the greater producing variety and enabled people to process cotton much further inland in the state’s interior.
georgia s fall line
Georgia’s Fall Line
  • Attracted cotton planters for its soil and climate as well as the fact that the area was favorable to industry.
  • As moving water flowed southward they picked up speed and could be used to power cotton gins, textile mills, and factories.
  • Arrival of steamboats in the 1820s gave planters a way to get cotton to major ports like Savannah.
  • By the 1840s they could use railroads
  • To grow cotton you needed a supply of cheap labor and growing season of 200 days without frost and 25 to 45 inches of rain a year, slaves were needed for their cheap labor and Georgia had the right climate to grow cotton.
  • Of the 600,000 white Georgians in 1860, fewer than 3,000 could be classified as planters.
  • Planters were landholders who owned 20 or more field slaves, they made up the upper social class along with bankers lawyers and merchants. They dominated the state’s business and government
planters cont d
Planters Cont’d
  • Many planters had their money tied up in land and slaves, so, few could afford the mansions like we saw in Gone with the Wind.
  • Planters and their families enjoyed a comfortable life. At home they hosted barbecues and political gatherings. Church activities and traveling also kept them busy. Families would often have visitors for weeks at a time. Wealthy planters also enjoyed hunting and riding. Their children attended schools called academies. Male children often went to colleges in the North while the female children attended female seminaries.
yeoman farmers
Yeoman Farmers
  • Most white Georgians were middle-class farmers sometimes called yeoman farmers.
  • These farmers usually owned less than 100 acres and sometimes owned slaves. Most of their land was used to grow cotton, but they also grew corn, wheat, oats, sweet potatoes, peas and beans as well as chickens, pigs and cows on which to live.
  • Usual dwelling was a dogtrot cabin, two one-room log structures with a connecting space.
poor whites
Poor Whites
  • At the bottom of white society because they owned no land. 1 in 10 white Georgians was poor. Most were concentrated in the pine barrens of Georgia and in the mountains of north Georgia.
  • Often seen as lazy due to a poor diet and diseases such as malaria and hookworms which left them with little energy. They were often illiterate.
black georgians
Black Georgians
  • Lowest level of society – 99% were slaves. Slaves lives varied on the work they did, field hands had the hardest lives – working daylight to dark during the harvest season
  • Slaves usually had Saturday afternoon and Sunday free from work so that they could rest, socialize, or attend church.
  • Their jobs ranged from field hands, house servants, cooks, nursemaids, skilled artisans and factory workers.
  • Owners ranged from cruel – whipping their slaves for misbehavior to those treated like members of the extended family. Most were treated somewhere in between. Slaves were valuable, it was in their owners’ best interests to keep them healthy.
  • Slavery was degrading, it deprived blacks of their freedom and fundamental rights. Under Georgia law they had no political or civil liberties. Laws protected them against excessive discipline or murder by owners but these laws were hard to enforce.
  • Because slaves were considered property they were not allowed to marry legally. Many owners allowed informal marriages.
slaves and other blacks
Slaves and other Blacks
  • About 3,500 free blacks were living in Georgia at the end of antebellum Georgia
  • Most lived in cities – those with skilled jobs were accused of taking jobs away from whites, those without jobs were deemed lazy
  • Required to register in county of residence
black contributions
Black Contributions
  • Gullah, slaves living on Georgia’s coast created a new language – words are English put together like African
  • Woodcarving, basketmaking, and quilting were done in the African style but adapted to native materials
  • Okra, black-eyed peas, and distinctive ways of cooking became part of southern menus
black contributions1
Black Contributions
  • Tales of animal tricksters from stories from Africa became Uncle Remus and Brer Rabbit stories
  • Music – spirituals, rhythm songs, and development of the banjo
  • Georgia’s first constitution called for schools in each county – legislature didn’t provide enough money to set up public school for whole state
  • Poor people held education as low priority
  • 1817, legislature attempted to create a “poor schools” fund – many were too embarrassed to allow their children to attend
  • Farmers built one-room schoolhouses and paid someone to teach – teacher was usually not well qualified and children received a basic education
  • As of 1850 one out of five white adults in Georgia was illiterate
  • Higher education – 1783 UGA chartered, classes began 1801 - women not allowed until 1918
medical college of georgia
Medical College of Georgia
  • Established 1828 in Augusta – formal training of doctors was just beginning
  • Religious colleges – Emory in 1836 was Methodist, Oglethorpe College in 1835 was Presbyterian, Mercer University was Baptist
  • One of first women’s colleges was Georgia Female College, later called Wesleyan Female College, in Macon – classes began in 1839
  • Protestant denominations included: Presbyterian, Episcopalian, Lutheran, Moravian, and Baptist
  • Jewish congregation in Savannah dated back to 1733
  • Protestant movement called the Great Revival swept through the South
    • Camp meetings & revivals
slaves and religion
Slaves and Religion

Initially, if slaves went to church at all, they went with their owners. Some worshipped secretly, looking for the time when they would be delivered from bondage.

Separate black churches – primarily Baptist- were found in some cities.

The African Methodist Episcopal and African Methodist Episcopal Zion denominations were started in the North and opposed slavery. There were few in the south before the Civil War.

crawford long
Crawford Long
  • Born in Danielsville in 1815, prosperous surgeon beginning in Jefferson and moving to Atlanta. He relocated to Athens where he died in 1878.
  • At the age of 26, he gave a patient ether and removed two cysts from his neck. When the patient regain consciousness, he had no memory of the surgery. Dr. Long concluded that ether allowed people to endure pain without realizing it-by numbing their senses and memory.
  • Dr. Long did not publicize his discovery and did not receive the proper credit until 30 years after the surgery.
social reforms
Social Reforms
  • In 1816 the state enacted a code of laws to abolish cruel punishments
  • Men could no longer be whipped or pilloried
  • 1817 the state opened its first penitentiary
  • In 1823 a law was passed that made it more difficult to put people in jail for not paying their debts
social reform
Social Reform
  • In 1842 at Milledgeville a hospital was opened for the insane
  • In 1852 in Cave Springs, a school was opened for the deaf