Southern Economy • “The south grew, but it did not develop” • Expanded and population grew, but still agrarian • Became sensitive about traditional way of life • Center of power shifted from tobacco of north, to cotton of deep south • Short staple cotton + cotton gin = no industry • 5,000 bales in 1820 – 5 million bales in 1860 • Any attempt to commercialize, only served plantations
Southern Dependence on North • Few southerners willing to admit they couldn’t survive without northern industry. • DeBow’s Review: published by B.D. DeBow • magazine advocating southern commercial expansion. • printed in New York because no publisher in New Orleans could handle the volume. • Northern manufacturers advertised in the magazine.
Reasons to Reject Expansion • Hot climate made factories miserable • Already massive profits from cotton, and no competition • Cavalier Culture • Southern whites viewed their society as more refined than rapidly growing North. • chivalrous, traditional, and leisurely • more of a myth than the reality.
Cult of Honor – reflect European Chivalry • Wealthy upper class • Military careers (modern day knights) • The rest of society. • Held the white women in honor and high regard. • Developed strict codes of honor • duels remain legal long after outlawed in the North.
Brooks vs. Sumner • Sen. Charles Sumner (MA) gave speech admonishing slavery. • Compared Sen. Andrew Butler (SC) as a modern day Don Quixote marrying a prostitute and mistaking her for a lady. • Rep. Preston Brooks, Butler’s nephew, felt need to defend family honor. • Attacked Sumner at his desk with a cane. • Brooks was viewed as a hero throughout the South
Planter Aristocracy • Fewer than ¼ of Southern people owned slaves. • Most only had 1 or 2. • Poor were dependent on upper class for survival • Aristocracy compared to upper-class lords of Europe. • actually a myth, most deep southern families hadn’t owned land more than a generation. #of Slaves in Mercer Co. = 4,000 #of White farmers in Mercer Co. = 8,000 Plantation owners = 2 ……………………..2,500 slaves farmers own slaves = 1,200……………......1,500 slaves 6,798 farmers ……………………………………..NO SLAVES
Reality of Plantations • Grandeur and extravagant lifestyles - a facade. • Possible for northern established tobacco families • Deep south cotton plantations – highly competitive, difficult to manage, often deep in debt • Struggle to maintain perception made them defensive
Typical White Southern Farmer • Small yeomen farmer, worked side by side with his only slave • Treated the slave well b/c they were expensive • Uneducated, poor, dependent on plantation owners • Supported slavery b/c they needed help from plantations • Irony – would’ve done better if slavery did NOT exist • Few Southerners that rejected slavery: • “Hill People” of the Ozarks in Arkansas, and Appellations in West Virginia • cut off from society, not dependent on plantations • Rejected secession during the war
“Peculiar Institution” • By mid 1800s only a few South American countries and Caribbean islands still had slaves. • Slave Codes: • can’t leave masters’ premises without permission. • not permitted out after dark, or congregate with other slaves except for church. • may NOT strike a white person, not even in self defense. • Whites may not teach slaves to read, write, or arithmetic. • Not Considered a crime if owner kills a slave during punishment • Enforcement left to each owner’s discretion, usually they were lenient.
Slaves’ Perspective vs. Master’s • Most masters only owned a few slaves • Close bonds, masters worked closely with slaves, and made sure they stayed healthy. • Most slaves preferred to live on large plantations. • Shear size provided culture apart from whites and privacy. • Vast majority lived on larger plantations by 1860. • Relationships were much less intimate for the average slave than for the average master.
Plantation Systems • Task System: slaves given a task to perform, free for the day once finished • predominant on rice and sugar plantations • Gang System: Broken into groups run by “Head Drivers” (fellow slaves) or Overseers (poor whites), work until they were satisfied for the day. • far more common.
Women Slaves • Slave women had particularly difficult lives. • Expected to work in fields, then domestic duties also • Single parenting became the norm. • Fathers from other plantations or sold shortly after childbirth. (often by design) • Served as midwives, and basic medical assistance. • Held in high regard within slave communities.
Conditions • Usually better than most factory workers in the North. • Better than peasant laborers in Europe. • Far better than any slaves in Caribbean or S. America • Slave trade was still legal, owners had no incentive to take care of their slaves. • Antebellum south was the only slave population to grow though natural reproduction. • Read pg. 305 regarding hired labor!
Urban Slavery vs. Rural Slavery • Rural plantation slaves were kept isolated. • Rarely, if ever, met free blacks or lower class whites • Urban slaves run errands, accomplish public tasks, hired out, house servants • Could easily mingle with free blacks and lower class whites, almost impossible to keep separate. • Very rare by 1860 – not considered worth the trouble • Usually a status symbol
Slave Resistance • Psychological and emotional toll –yearned for freedom regardless of contentment with owners, feelings of helplessness • Sambo: shuffle feet, head hung low, scratching head, portrayed the ignorant subservient slave but was actually an act. • The Rebel: slave that can never bring themselves to accept or accommodate owners • Revolts were actually very rare - Nat Turner Revolt of 1831 came to fruition, was quickly put down. • Escape rarely succeeded, even after the Underground Railroad, especially deeper south.
Resistance Cont. • The most common form of resistance - passive aggressive. • Intentionally break tools • Refusal to give maximum effort • Losing equipment • Complete tasks improperly • White owners simply mistook this for laziness and never fully understood
Slave Culture • Pidgin: slave language - combination of many African dialects and English – barely audible. • Lasted long after African slave trade ended • Music: slave spirituals - religious elements appease white people, but rhythms and beats reflected African culture. • Privately songs reflected resentment of bondage, and helplessness • Religion: Christianity to appease whites, mixed in elements of voodoo and African Islam. • Family: revolved around extended family kinships, identified more with community as family • Rarely were allowed to know biological families • Constant possibility of being sold