Currier & Ives, Cotton Plantation 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 Population of the Southern States 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 Eli Whitneys cotton gin made it possible to profitably grow shortstaple cotton. Annual production soared:
Eli Whitneys Cotton Gin 1790 3,000 bales 1810 178,000 bales 1860 4 million bales By 1860, South grew 75% of worlds cotton. The Cotton Kingdom Over grown in Ala., Miss. & La. grown by slaves
1 million slaves moved to new western plantations, 17901860 Mostly young adults 60-70% sold Equal sex ratio, except for sugar plantations 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 Main Plantation Crops Hampered economic development of South Few factories
No public education 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 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 Slave Quarters, Carters Grove Plantation, Virginia Slave Quarters, Carters Grove Plantation, Virginia 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 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 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: Plantation near Richmond, VA rests on assumption that one man completely surrenders his will and becomes an extension of another mans will
Legal contradiction: slaves simultaneously people & property 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 Woodcuts from Josiah Priest, In Defense of Slavery
Blacks View of Slavery Rejected racism, but learned to Slave manacles 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 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 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 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
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