Cotton Gin Tied Southern economy to cotton

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Slavery & Antebellum South

Antebellum Era- The 1800’s in the South before the Civil War
1793- Cotton Gin

1808- Congress outlawed the external slave trade


  • Cotton represented ½ of American exports

  • Most slaves worked on plantations and medium sized farms

  • Only 25% of Southerners owned slaves

  • Most whites sought the ideal of owning a slave plantation

  • Slave ownership determined social status, and it allowed all whites to feel superior

After 1830- Changing attitudes towards slavery from a necessary evil to a positive good.

  • Biblical justification

  • Historical justification- Egypt, Greece, Rome

  • Legal justification- Constitution did not forbid slavery

  • Scientific justification- Blacks were an inherently inferior race “The educated master is the Negro’s best friend on earth”

  • Underlying motivation- Slavery was incredibly profitable!

Black Christianity

  • Most masters encouraged religion as a form of social control- “Servants obey your masters”

  • Slaves created a secret church- combined African &Christian traditions and emphasized salvation from oppression

Slave Revolts

  • 1800- Gabriel Prosser (VI)

  • 1822- Denmark Vesey (SC)

Both plots probably foiled by other slaves

  • 1831- Nat Turner (VI)- Most famous slave revolt, killed 55 whites, after revolts life was more difficult for most slaves

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