slavery and abolition
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Slavery and Abolition. 1820-1850.

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slavery in the south
Prior to the 1820s the view of slavery was in conflict with the ideas of the American Revolution, particularly the statement by Thomas Jefferson in the Declaration of Independence that “all men are created equal.” For this reason, the attitude held by most slave owners was that slavery was immoral, but since the economy in the south was based on cash crop agriculture that used slave labor, it also was an economic necessity!
  • By the 1820s, cotton production made the South so rich that to justify owning slaves to themselves, Southerners began to change their opinions about slavery. Now they argued that slavery was a “positive good”and that slavery actually helped slaves. They wanted to make themselves feel better about slave owning.
Slavery in the South
Because the economy in the South was based on agriculture, his meant that the south had little industry of its own. Because the south had little industry, residents had to buy most of their manufactured goods from the north or Europe. They paid more money than people in the north for manufactured items. This meant that the south got little benefit from the high protective tariff, and were against the tariff.
Cotton was the main cash crop. While the south is known for its Plantation system, most people lived as subsistence farmers. Only 25% of whites owned slaves because slaves cost a lot of money. Of those whites who owned slaves, most only owned one or two.
rise of the abolition movement
By the 1850s, 40% of the population of the South were slaves. These slaves were valuable because the growing southern economy provided the world with 2/3 of its cotton supply. Because cotton and the slave labor system that supported it were so valuable, any suggestion that the south end slavery brought about tremendous opposition.Rise of the Abolition Movement
strategies of abolitionists
1. Conservative: Emancipation of slaves and their return to Africa with financial Compensation by the US government to slave owners.
  • “America Colonization Society:” organization who wanted to end slavery by buying slaves from their masters & sending them to live Liberia (Africa) because they believed Africans were inferior to whites and should not live in the US.

2. Radical: Emancipation through slave revolt.

3. Moderate:  Emancipation by appealing to the Christianity of slave owners.

Strategies of Abolitionists
The moderateabolition movement was started in the north in the 1830s by William Lloyd Garrison who published “The Liberator”an anti-slavery newspaper. He was helped by many abolitionist leaders from New England who saw slavery as a VIOLATION of Christian principles. They wanted slaves to be emancipated (freed). He demanded the” immediate and uncompensated emancipation of slavery.”
Another important abolitionist was writer Harriet Beecher Stowe, the wife of a New England preacher. In 1852 she wrote the best selling book Uncle Tom’s Cabin that created widespread sympathy for slaves and horror towards the slave system. By 1860 it was the 2nd best selling book in the world, passed only by the Bible!
REBELLIONS: the most famous call for rebellion was issued by a man named David Walker. He was a free black who lived in New York and worked for an abolitionist newspaper. In 1830 he wrote pamphlets calling for slave rebellions. Unfortunately he died before the most famous rebellions occurred
the nat turner rebellion
The most famous slave rebellion was Nat Turner’s Rebellion in 1831. Nat Turner was a house slave who hoped to be set free by his master. Instead he was sold, and was separated from his family and was sent to work in the Virginia fields. Turner became a preacher and convinced himself he was sent to Earth by God to lead a race war. He interpreted a comet as an omen to attack, and led 50 other blacks in a rampage killing 200 white slave owners and their families. After a few days the rebels were hunted down by a posse and were hanged. Turner hid in the swamp for 2 months before he was captured and hanged. The Nat Turner Rebellion
results of turner s rebellion
Turner’s rebellion was IMPORTANT because:

1. it scared slave owners

2. slaves were banned from learning to read

3. harsher slave codes were passed

4. freed slaves had to leave Virginia within 6 months

Results of Turner’s Rebellion
the underground railroad
Another way slaves opposed slavery was by running away. Most who ran away did so to reunite with family members in the North. The most famous route north was called the Underground Railroad-- the nickname for the informal network of abolitionists willing to help slaves escape. The hid these slaves in their houses and provided food. The most famous of these “conductor”on the Underground Railroad was Harriet Tubman who made 50 successful trips.The Underground Railroad
Several former slaves such as:

Sojourner Truth and Frederick Douglass tried to appeal to the consciences of individual slave owners by arguing that:

  • 1. slavery was morally wrong
  • 2. black people were equal to whites
  • Southerners who defended slavery were called Apologists. They argued that slavery was good because:
  • 1. slavery forced Africans to become Christians
  • 2. black people were inferior to whites both biologically and intellectually
  • To maintain the country as one piece, in 1836 Congress adopted the “Gag Rule.”The idea was that the abolitionist issue would not bring other business in Congress to a complete stop. This rule stayed in effect until 1848. HOWEVER as the United States expanded west, conflict over slavery grew more heated and threatened to tear the country apart.