Slavery in antebellum america

Document Type:Essay

Subject Area:History

Document 1

The south was basically the backbone of the economy with vast cotton farms and very cheap labor offered by slaves. The antebellum period was also characterized by the reinforcement of the aspect of American individualism and manifest destiny. Americans in this period believed that the American people and their institutions were more superior and Americans were morally obligated to spread their ideologies and institutions. In antebellum America, the economy was largely dependent on slavery, and despite the evils associated with slavery, the slave owners predominantly in the south found ways to justify the institution of slavery. By the 19th century antebellum period, slavery was considered an integral part of the southern economy. Economically, slaves were basically the backbone of the American economy (McLaurin, 112). They worked in the cotton farms in the south, and the cotton was transported to the north for manufacturing and later exported.

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Politically, the peculiar institution of the day affected politics and law-making in that laws had to be crafted to control the ownership and slave trade. In Celia; a slave, the author focuses on all these aspects, and more so the political aspect when Celia is sentenced to death by hanging when she kills her master in efforts to resist his rape advances. One of the most interesting aspects of the institution of slavery in the antebellum period is the fact that slave owners in the south found ways to justify the slave trade and slave ownership. In voices of freedom; the peculiar institution, the author narrates hoe Fredrik Douglas was sent to a slave breaker by his owner in order to mound him as a slave. It is quite hilarious that there were people whose source of livelihood in the antebellum era was beating up slaves (Foner, 69).

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One of the most humiliating aspects of American history is that slavery was legal, and America had to go into a civil war to amend the laws concerning slavery. In the better part of the antebellum period, it was legal for a white man to own slaves. The state of Virginia had passed a law in 1705 that stated that if a master happened to kill a slave in the process of disciplining them, the action would not be regarded as a crime (Foner, 37). New era economists had begun to argue that voluntary labor was more likely to be more productive than forced labor. Following campaigns by influential individuals such as William Wilberforce in Britain, most of the rest of the world had abolished or was in the process of abolishing slave trade in the mid-1800s.

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In the United States it was an entirely different case. The southern states were adamant to hold on to slavery and slave trade, as it was the main source of their lively hood while the north, led by Abraham Lincoln was adamant about ending the slave trade. This conflict between the north and the south would go on to be the main cause of the civil war. Works cited Foner, Eric, ed.  Voices of freedom: A documentary history. Vol. WW Norton & Company Incorporated, 2008. Foner, Eric. McLaurin, Melton Alonza.  Celia, a slave. University of Georgia Press, 1991. Murdock, Donté. Slavery in America.

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