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Antebellum Era Dbq

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Following the War of 1812, America entered a period known as the Antebellum Era, meaning "before the Civil War," which lasted from 1815 to 1861. This period was characterized by the Market Revolution, which saw the birth of American capitalism and caused major social and economic change. From the year 1815 to 1850, slavery remained an established institution, economic change in the North East led to industrialization which in turn caused other economic and social changes, and a shift in America's social climate caused the growth of the abolitionist movement. One change that transformed American society was industrialization. Prior to the War of 1812, American society was mostly comprised of yeoman farmers who subsisted through trade and barter,…show more content…
The growth of the textile industry, in particular, generated an increased need for cotton, which in turn perpetuated the south's reliance on slavery. With the creation of Eli Whitney's cotton gin, cotton could be produced much more efficiently and effectively through slave labor, and was also more accessible to small farms as well. The social gap between the rich and the poor in the South did not widen as much as in the North, because white people, regardless of whether they were independent landed farmers, landless farmers and farm workers, or plantation owners, had a "bond" of racial solidarity that was strongly emphasized in southern society, which solidified and aided in the retention of slavery as an institution. Although most southerners did not own slaves, and those who did rarely owned more than 10, every white southerner benefitted from slavery because it meant they could never be at the bottom of the social or economic hierarchy, and also, slaveholders often rented out slave labor to other farmers during harvest season. Even though slavery was becoming more of a divisive issue, the border states (Virginia, Kentucky, and Maryland) that could have ousted the slave-cotton system based on public opinion chose to remain slave states. Slavery was one of the few aspects of Antebellum society that was…show more content…
A prominent social change that took place during the Antebellum Era was the growth of the abolitionist movement. The movement had existed prior to 1815, but its strength was renewed starting in the 1820s. The growth of the movement was primarily caused by the Second Great Awakening. Charles Grandison Finney, one of the most influential figures of the Second Great Awakening, spread a doctrine of Perfectionism, which caused a public motivation for reform in pursuit of the elimination of sin, abolition being a major point in the new definition of equality. These abolitionist ideals were spread across the country and gained influence through the newly formed "benevolent empire" created as a result of the Second Great Awakening. Another cause of its growth was sectionalism-- Northern opposition to slavery was aggravated by the South's relentlessness in its implementation of slavery and anti-black laws, such as the Seaman's Act of 1822, in which black crewmen arriving in Charleston would be jailed until departure. Open slave resistance also helped the abolitionist cause, such as Denmark Vesey's Conspiracy in 1822 and Nat Turner's rebellion in 1831. As a result of these, the call for the end of American slavery gained popularity among intellectuals as well. Important political figures such as Abraham Lincoln,
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