Chapter 11    SLAVES AND MASTERS
 
The Divided Society of the  Old South
Wealth divided white Southerners by class
White society also divided by region
Black society also divided with about 6% free
Race divided all Southerners by caste
 
The World of Southern Blacks
Constant resistance of Southern ideology, repression
Constant aspiration to freedom
Psychic survival helped create and maintain a unique African American ethnicity
 
Slaves’ Daily Life and Labor
90% of slaves lived on plantations or farms
Most slaves on cotton plantations worked sunup to sundown, 6 days/week
About 75% of slaves were field workers, about 5% worked in industry
Urban slaves had more autonomy than rural slaves
 
Slave Families, Kinship,
and Community
Normal family life difficult for slaves
Fathers cannot always protect children
Families vulnerable to breakup by masters
Most reared in strong, two-parent families
Extended families provide nurture, support amid horror of slavery
Slave culture a family culture that provided a sense of community
 
African American Religion
Black Christianity the cornerstone of an emerging African American culture
Whites fear religion’s subversive potential, try to supervise churches and preaching
Slave religion kept secret from whites
Reaffirmed the inherent joy of life
Preached the inevitable day of liberation
 
Resistance and Rebellion
1800: Gabriel Prosser rebellion fell apart because of violent storm
1822: Denmark Vesey
Well-planned conspiracy for slaves to seize armory and then take Charleston slaves
Great Dismal Swamp fugitives
1831: Nat Turner led bloodiest and most terrifying slave revolt
1835–1842:  2nd Seminole War
Slaves escaped and joined Seminoles
 
Resistance and Rebellion
Runaway often aided by the Underground Railroad
Work-related
Work slowdowns
Sabotage
Poison masters
Stories, songs asserting equality
 
Slave Rebellions and Uprisings, 1800–1831
 
Free Blacks in the Old South
Southern free blacks severely restricted
Sense of solidarity with slaves
Generally unable to help
Repression increased as time passed
By 1860, some state legislatures were proposing laws to force free blacks to emigrate or be enslaved
 
White Society in the Antebellum South
Only a small percentage of slave owners lived in aristocratic mansions
Less than 1% of the white population owned 50 or more slaves
Most Southern whites were yeomen farmers
 
The Planters' World
Big planters set tone, values of Southern life
Planter wealth based on
Commerce
Land speculation
Slave trading
Cotton planting
Plantations managed as businesses
Romantic ideals imitated only by richest
 
Planters and Paternalism
Planters prided themselves on paternalism
Better living standard for Southern slaves than others in Western Hemisphere
Relatively decent treatment due in part to their increasing economic value after 1808
Planters actually dealt little with slaves
Slaves managed by overseers
Violent coercion accepted by all planters
 
Small Slaveholders
Slave conditions worst with fewer than 20 slaves
Slaves share the master's poverty
Slaves at the complete mercy of the master
Masters often worked alongside the slaves
Most slaves would have preferred the economic and cultural stability of the plantation
 
Yeomen Farmers
Small farmers resented large planters
Some aspired to planter status
Many saw slavery as guaranteeing their own liberty and independence
Slavery viewed as a system for keeping blacks "in their place.
 
A Closed Mind and a Closed Society
Planters feared growth of abolitionism
Planters encouraged closing of ranks
Slavery defended as a positive good
Africans depicted as inferior
Slavery defended with Bible
Slavery a humane asylum to improve Africans
Slavery superior to Northern wage labor
Contrary points of view suppressed
 
Slavery and the Southern Economy
White Southerners perceived their economic interests to be tied to slavery
Lower South:  Slave plantation society
Upper South:  Farming and slave-trading region
 
The Internal Slave Trade
Mixed farming in Virginia and Maryland
Needed less labor, more capital
Upper South sold slaves to lower South
Virginia, Maryland, and Kentucky took on characteristics of industrializing North
Sectional loyalty of upper South uncertain
 
Slave Concentration, 1820
 
The Rise of the Cotton Kingdom
"Short-staple" cotton drove cotton boom
Cotton gin made seed extraction easy
Year-round requirements suited to slave labor
Cotton in Georgia, South Carolina, Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas, Louisiana, east Texas
Large planters dominated cotton production
1850: South produced 75% of world's cotton, cotton the most important U.S. business
 
Slave Concentration, 1860
 
Slavery and Industrialization
Southerners resented dependence on Northern industry, commerce
Southerners project industrial schemes
Some proposed using free white labor
Others proposed the use of slaves
Slaves worked in Southern factories
High cotton profits discouraged shift to industry
 
The "Profitability" Issue
Slavery not profitable for South as a whole
White small farmers had lower living standards than most Northern farmers
Profits from cotton not well-distributed
Slave system resulted in waste of human resources, Southern underdevelopment
 
Worlds in Conflict
Separate Southern worlds
Planters
Slaves
Less affluent whites
Free blacks
Held together by plantation economy, web of customary relationships