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Currier & Ives, Cotton Plantation. Southern Slavery. Growing Black Population. 600% increase in black population, 179 0-1860 Less than 700,000 in 1790; 4 million by 1860 1 out of every 3 Southerners – majority in Mississippi & South Carolina

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growing black population
Growing Black Population
  • 600% increase in black population, 1790-1860
    • Less than 700,000 in 1790; 4 million by 1860
    • 1 out of every 3 Southerners – majority in Mississippi & South Carolina
    • Mostly due to natural increase - only 50,000 smuggled in after 1808
  • 260,000 free blacks by 1860 (6% of black population)
    • Over 10% of all blacks free by 1810, but many states forbade manumission in 1820s-1830s
    • Required to carry papers & very limited in rights
    • Could own slaves – 3,200 did so
    • Many were mulattoes
blacks in the north
Blacks in the North
  • Northern states phased out slavery
    • Penn. (1780), N.Y. (1799), Conn. & N.J. (1804) provided for gradual abolition – almost all free by 1840
    • Mass. Supreme Court ruled slavery violated state constitution in 1781
    • Slavery barred from Northwest Territory (1787)
  • Over 3/5 of Northern blacks lived in cities
    • Most were unskilled laborers
    • Only 5 states allowed black men to vote
the rise of king cotton
The Rise of King Cotton
  • Eli Whitney’s cotton ‘gin made it possible to profitably grow short-staple cotton.
  • Annual production soared:
    • 1790 – 3,000 bales
    • 1810 – 178,000 bales
    • 1860 – 4 million bales
  • By 1860, South grew 75% of world’s cotton.

Eli Whitney’s

Cotton ‘Gin

the cotton kingdom
The Cotton Kingdom
  • Over ½ grown in Ala., Miss. & La.
    • ¾ grown by slaves
  • 1 million slaves moved to new western plantations, 1790-1860
    • Mostly young adults
    • 60-70% sold
    • Equal sex ratio, except for sugar plantations
plantation profits
Plantation Profits
  • Capitalist agriculture
    • 8% annual return on investment, 1820-60
    • Demand rose 5% annually
  • Benefited rest of U.S.
    • Cotton = 60% of U.S. exports by 1840
    • South became prime market for Northern manufactured goods
  • Hampered economic development of South
    • Few factories
    • No public education

Main Plantation Crops

slaveowning concentrated in wealthy hands
Slaveowning Concentrated in Wealthy Hands
  • Only 26% of Southern white families owned slaves by 1860
    • Majority of slaveowners had 5 or fewer
    • 2.7% owned 50 or more
    • 0.1% owned 200 or more
  • Average wealth of slaveowners was 13.9 times that of non-slaveowners
  • Majority of slaves lived on middling or large holdings
    • 25% on small holdings (1-9 slaves)
    • 50% on middling holdings (10-49 slaves)
    • 25% on large holdings (50 or more)
plantation life
Plantation Life
  • Supervision varied by size:
    • Resident masters supervised smaller plantations (under 30 slaves)
    • Hired overseers ran larger ones
    • Foremen (drivers) often slaves
  • Lenient treatment mixed with harsh punishment
    • Typical rations = 1 peck of cornmeal & 2.5-4 lb.s of bacon per week; 4 suits of clothing per year
    • Each family had small wooden cabin, cleaned regularly to protect health
    • Sundays & Saturday afternoons off
life as a slave
Life as a Slave
  • Nuclear families with 7 children on average
    • Masters encouraged monogamy to maintain order
      • most escapees were young, unmarried men
    • Economic imperatives took precedence, however
      • 1/3 of all slave marriages broken up by sale of spouses in Upper South
      • almost ½ of all children separated from at least 1 parent
  • Distinction between field slaves & house slaves real, but exaggerated
    • Field slaves (75%) had more freedom but worse conditions
    • House slaves (25%) had better conditions but less freedom

Picking cotton

the paradox of black white relations
The Paradox of Black - White Relations
  • Dialectical relationship
    • Each shaped the other
    • Blacks contributed to broader American culture while creating separate subculture
  • Whites could never resolve inherent contradictions of slavery
    • Philosophical contradiction: rests on assumption that one man completely surrenders his will and becomes an extension of another man’s will
    • Legal contradiction: slaves simultaneously people & property

Plantation near Richmond, VA

justifications for slavery
Justifications for Slavery
  • Racism – blacks seen as lazy & childlike
    • Argued slavery civilized & Christianized them
    • Argued only whipping would make slaves work
  • Christian Religion
    • Believed Bible condoned slavery
    • Thought “Curse of Ham” (Gen. 9:20-27) justified it
  • Feudal Myth
    • claimed reciprocal relationship – provided for slaves’ needs in exchange for devoted service
    • Paternalistic care contrasted with “inhumane” treatment of Northern factory workers
slide15

Woodcuts from

Josiah Priest,

In Defense of Slavery

blacks view of slavery
Blacks’ View of Slavery
  • Rejected racism, but learned to conform to whites’ expectations to avoid punishment
  • Saw Christianity as affirming their equality & offering promise of earthly freedom as well as heavenly redemption
  • Blacks neither grateful for care, nor considered it payment – viewed it as fundamental right
    • Used whites’ rhetoric of feudalism to demand better treatment
    • Appreciated “good” masters & accepted punishment when deserved

Slave manacles

extremely unfavorable conditions for rebellion
Extremely Unfavorable Conditions for Rebellion
  • High ratio of whites to blacks, unlike rest of the Americas
  • Small size & dispersed nature of most slaveholdings
  • Well-armed resident masters who kept close watch on their property
  • Political stability (except during the Revolutionary & Civil Wars)
running away
Running Away
  • 50,000 slaves ran away each year
  • 75% of escaped slaves were in teens or 20s
  • Most returned to families or tried to pass as free blacks in cities
  • Some went “on strike” to negotiate better conditions

Underground

Railroad map

effects of slavery on white relationships
Effects of Slavery on White Relationships
  • All whites got benefits of being part of the “master race”
    • Racism used to keep nonslaveholding white majority in favor of system
    • All white men expected to ride slave patrols
  • Concept of chivalry defined women as weak & in need of protection from rapacious black men
  • Women had to endure husbands’ raping of female slaves
    • Women often biggest critics of slavery as a result – e.g. Sarah & Angelina Grimke