A large proportion of whites in the South supported slavery even though less than a quarter of these whites actually owned slaves. They felt that slavery was a necessary evil and that it was an important southern institution. The slave population in 1800 was just under 900,000 slaves and of that only 36,000 of these slaves were in the northern states. In 1860 this number grew to almost 4 million slaves were in the southern states. Many important statesmen such as Thomas Jefferson and George Washington regarded slavery as a necessity even though it was evil.
Individuals and groups of people of all sects defended slavery. Eventually anti-slavery views grew steadier, but there were still many people who continued to hold on to their strong anti-slavery beliefs and hesitated to join in on the abolitionist agitation. These people were unwilling to dispute what other citizens held to be their right. Although there were southern whites that didn’t necessarily like slavery, they still supported it because they felt it was the South’s right to have slavery. Thus slavery became an increasingly Southern institution.
Eradication of slavery in the North that started in the revolutionary era and was mostly over by the 1830’s. This dispute led to the division of the United States between the North and the South. Slavery came to eventually define the essence of the South, if you were for slavery you were from the south and you were considered pro-southern whereas opposition to slavery was considered anti-southern. Even though most white southern males did not own slaves, slavery continued to set the South farther and farther apart from the country and Nation as a whole.
Even though slavery at one time was common in the America’s, by the time the 19th century came around it was only found in a few countries such as Brazil and Cuba and the southern United States. In the 19th century the U. S was known as a country that celebrated liberty and equality and yet here were the southerners who represented everything but these things. Most Northerners joined the abolitionist movement not to help the slaves but to help the appearance of the United States and the bad impression slavery left on the U. S. Even with these movements taking place, slavery was still on the up and up.
This of course was due to the sudden increase in cotton cultivation in order to meet the demands of the Northern and European textile manufacturers, so in a sense the Northerners were without knowing supporting slavery in an indirect form. Another reason why the southerners clung to this belief of slavery being a necessity no matter how evil was because southern agrarian communities were in fact centered on slavery. The South did not undergo the same industrial revolution that was starting in the North, in fact the Southerners stayed almost completely rural and lagged in modernization very increasingly.
Examples of this include indications such as public education at the time and railroad construction. Because of all of this the Southerners felt as if slavery was indeed a necessity and their agricultural economy orbited around slavery. Many Southerners feared that the abolition of slavery would eventually result in an economic collapse. The biggest difference between the South and the North was purely ideological. In the North, slavery was abolished and small groups of abolitionists developed. In the South however, white spokesman, from political to ministers and etc.
all rallied behind slavery and treated it as the bedrock of southern society. Overall defenders of slavery had developed a range of arguments that they presented in order to defend their cause. They relied strongly on the religious aspect of their arguments on slavery when they defended their belief. They portrayed slavery as a part of God’s plan for civilizing a primitive people. Because of this it made it so that any southerner who defied slavery also defied Southern society and religion itself. The Southerners also based their case on social arguments as well.
They compared their supposed orderly religious and harmonious society to the Northerners supposed individualistic and tumultuous environment. This defense clearly represented the exact image of the so-called free labor argument that had become a very popular idealistic theory in the North. This stated that slavery kept the South back from modernization, and it kept them poor and as degraded, pro-slavery advocates that responded that only slavery could save the South from the evils that modernity brought to their land. In the 1840’s the struggle with slavery played a major role and factor in American politics.
Northerners who were committed to free soil or the idea that western territories should be reserved for only for free white settlers, whereas southerners insisted that a limitation on slavery’s expansion was unconstitutional and was meddling with the Sothern’s order and their honor. The slavery’s issue was no longer about the morality of it, but instead became about how it would affect the U. S politically and economically. This debate became so aggressive that at a later time it would cause a civil war between the country itself.
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