Slavery In The American Economy

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“The South grew, but it did not develop,” is the way one historian described the South during the beginning of the nineteenth century because it failed to move from an agrarian to an industrial economy. This was primarily due to the fact that the South’s agricultural economy was skyrocketing, which caused little incentive for ambitious capitalists to look elsewhere for profit. Slavery played a major role in the prosperity of the South’s economy, as well as impacting it politically and socially. However, despite the common assumption that the majority of whites in the South were slave owners, in actuality only a small minority of southern whites did in fact own slaves. With a population of just above 8 million, the number of slaveholders was…show more content…
For example, small farmers depended on the local plantation aristocracy for access to cotton gins, markets for their modest crops and their livestock, and credit or other financial assistance in time of need. The great cotton economy allowed many small farmers to improve their economic fortunes. Some bought more land, some became slave owners, and some moved into the fringes of plantation society. A typical white southerner was a yeoman farmer, who was also known as “plain folk.” These farmers owned a few slaves, with whom they worked and lived more closely than the larger planters. Many of them felt more secure in their positions as independent yeomen and they embraced the regional loyalty that was spreading throughout the white…show more content…
The South had slave codes which forbade slaves to do various things such as hold property, be out after dark, leave their master’s premises without permission, etc. The codes also prohibited whites from teaching slaves to read or write and it contained extraordinarily rigid provisions for defining one’s race. These slave codes hindered the advancement of slaves, and allowed many whites to have the feeling of racial superiority. This contributed to the reason on why many southern whites and even true outcasts of society had no real opposition to the plantation system or to slavery. True outcasts were the white southerners who occupied the infertile lands of the pine barrens, the red hills, and the swamps. At the time, they were known as “crackers,” “sand hillers,” or “poor white trash.” Many did not own their own land and instead supported themselves by foraging or hunting. Others worked at times as common laborers for their neighbors. Part of the reason these people were not against slavery was because there were so deadened by poverty that they had little strength to protest. The main reason why many of the non-slave owning whites supported slavery was because of their perception of race. However poor and miserable white southerners might have been, they could still look down on the black population and feel a bond with their fellow whites and a sense of racial supremacy.
In conclusion, slavery
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