Southern Economy/ Social System

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Southern Economy/ Social System


I.                      Before 1800

A.       Land was over cropped- long staple cotton profitable but only grew in a few small areas on the Carolina coast.  Short staple cotton too labor intensive to be profitable.  Marginal crop.

B.        Economic Stagnation

C.        Slavery unprofitable


II.                    Cotton Gin 

A.       changed everything:  Short staple cotton's fibers could be mechanically separated from its seeds cheaply and quickly.  Short staple cotton could be grown anywhere in the south. Cotton enormously profitable.

B.        cotton kingdom

    1. Cotton was dominate crop

    2. slavery reinvigorated

    3. led to an increased clearing of land for cotton, Expansion of Cotton and Slavery

    4. Cotton 1/2  US exports in 1840

    5. more than 1/2 cotton in the world came from 

        the American south. 

C.        English ties to South

    1. 1850's- most important product was cotton cloth

    2. 1/5 of the British economy directly or indirectly tied to cotton

    3. 75% of its cotton came from the US


III.                 Economy

A.      Land Butchery

B.       Big landholders got bigger- small land holders got smaller

C.       Slaves became a large investment- Speculation determines value

D.      Dependent on one crop economy- discouraged any


E.       Dependence on New England shippers seen as servitude to Yankees


IV.                  Southern Social System

A.     Oligarchy- Planter Aristocrats- Educated 


B.       Wide gap between rich and poor

C.       Great planters and lesser planters =3%

D.      Small slave owners- 22%

E.       Only 1/4 owned slaves by 1860

F.    Poor whites- Redneck Yeomen Farmers

G. 3/4 did not own slaves pushed off the richest bottom land

H. Riches of planters’ life far away

    1. saw the planters as a snobocracy

    2. subsistence farming

    3. Planters looked upon these yeomen farmers as isolated poor white trash

    4. Seen by the planters as lazy, many suffered from malnutrition, parasites, hookworms


V.                    Politics of South

A. Supported slavery

B.       American Dream to become a great planter

C.       Racial superiority over slaves insured status of poor whites was not rock bottom

D.      Upper South- Virginia, Tennessee, Arkansas, N.C.- more diversified agriculture-  reluctant secessionists by 1860

E.       Lower South- S.C., Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas- small slave owners aspired to planters very much tied to mono-crop economy

F.       Mountain Whites- lived in the Appalachians

       1. severely isolated

       2. Elizabethan speech patterns

       3. Independent farmers

       4. little in common with flatland whites

       5. Unionists during Civil War

       6. Hurt the Confederacy- W. Virginia formed


VI.                  Free Blacks

A.      1860- 250,000

B.       Precarious existence: many had been emancipated because of revolutionary ideals.

        1. mulattoes (children of white masters and black slave women) some were freed by their owners.

        2. purchased own freedom

C.       Couldn't testify against whites

D.      occupations

E. Resented

F. unpopular


VII.                Slavery

A.       1860- 4 million slaves

        1. International Slave trade ended 1808 but smuggling existed, white Jurors in the south tended not to find smugglers guilty.

        2. Natural Reproduction- Bulk of increase in slavery

        3. Major Investment- $2 billion capitol by 1860

        4. Primary form of wealth

B.        Slavery Profitable for Great Planters

        1. kept south a one crop economy- hurt the south especially poor whites who would not do "Slave work" even if they were hungry.

C.        New Cropland, Deep South- Al., S.C., Fl., Miss., LA.

D.     Sold down river

E.     Separated families- slave auctions- Every slave had 11 family members sold on average

F. Slave life

        1. Hard work

        2. No civil political rights

        3. some sold at age 10

        4. marriages not recognized "until death or distance do you part"

        5. Flogging- Breakers for headstrong slaves

        6. Separation common in upper south- deep south less separation`

G. Degrading

H. Forbidden instruction - 9/10 slaves were totally illiterate

I. Methods of Tolerance

        1. Slow pace

        2. stole food and goods

        3. sabotage arson

        4. runaway

            * Harriet Tubman and Josiah 

                Henson-  Underground RR 

        5. Rebellious

            *Gabriel Prosser- 1800- hung

            * Denmark Vessey- Charleston 1822

            * Nat Turner- Black Preacher- sold

                and separated from wife, killed 60 in

                Virginia in 1831



VIII.              Abolition

A.      Roots- 18th century Revolution- Declaration of Independence

B.       1787- NW territory- 1808slave trade

C.       1817- American Colonization Society

        1.  Gradual emancipation- John Marshall/ Henry Clay

        2.  Re-settle Emancipated blacks to Africa-Establishment of Liberia but most Free blacks objected to transplantation

D.      Movement- Influenced by the Great Awakening

E.       1830's called for total abolition

F.       Edward Everett- President of Harvard- Entrance tests (Anti Slavery required)

G.       William Lloyd Garrison- Liberator- 1831 in Boston

        1. Southerners believed the Liberator was connected to the Nat Turner Rebellion

        2. GA senate gave a $5000 reward on William Lloyd Garrison

        3. 1854 William Lloyd Garrison burned a copy of the constitution- 4th of July- said thus perishes all compromises w/ tyranny

H.      Theodore Dwight Weld- Married Angelina Grimke (southerner)

        1. Converted by Finney

        2. Made Oberlin college a center for abolition

        3. w/ Angelina and Sarah- work American Slavery as it Is- 1839- expressed the cruelties of slavery

I.         1833- American Anti-Slavery Society (Garrison)

        1. Wendell Phillips

            *boycott-no cane sugar or cotton

        2. Black Abolitionists

            *David Walker- Appeal to Colored Citizens of the World advocated the bloody overthrow of slavery

            *Sojourner Truth- woman's rights and abolition

            *Fredrick Douglass- Escaped slave

                +Frequent beatings for Anti Slavery Speeches

                +1845 Narrative Life of Frederick Douglas

                + looked to politics/ practical as opposed to

                    William Lloyd Garrison


IX.                Southern Reaction to Abolition

A.      Hysteria of Slave rebellion

B.       Abolition believed to encourage slave rebellions

       1.  Changed the defense of slavery from Necessary Evil to Slavery was a positive good

        a. Civilized and christianized

        b. Slavery in Bible

  1. Slavery better than the Wage Slavery of the


    d. Slaves treated like "Family"


X.                  Freedom of Speech

A.      1836- Gag Resolution

     1. Southerners, all anti-slavery appeals tabled without discussion

     2. Right to Petition

            *J.Q. Adams- 8 yr fight for repeal of Gag Resolution

     3. 1835- Presidential order:  South postmasters burn abolition material without delivery

            *arrested postmasters who did not comply


XII.              Impact

A.      Abolition was unpopular but did move the debate

B.       Northern Politicians moved to Free soil positions

Halt expansion of slavery; believed that it would die out




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