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Slavery and the Culture of the Antebellum South (1820-1861)

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Shivani Ananth

on 23 November 2013

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Transcript of Slavery and the Culture of the Antebellum South (1820-1861)

Thesis 1:

The worsening conditions of slavery in the antebellum south fomented abolitionist movements nationally and internationally.

Thesis 2: The growing hypocrisy of the justifications for slavery fomented abolitionist thought inside America and outside America
Slavery and the Culture of the Antebellum South (1820-1861): What were the conditions of and justifications for slavery , and how did they change over the time period given o foment abolitionist thought nationally and internationally?
Background: A History of Slavery in America
Origins of Slavery/Slavery in Colonial Times
Conditions of Slavery in the Antebellum South
Justifications of Slavery in the Antebellum South
Abolitionist Movement
Division of America:North vs. South
Document 1: Cover page of An essay on the slavery and commerce of the human species, particularly the African
Document 2:
Document 1: Political cartoon satirizing slavery
Passage from, "Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass"
"only to my knees. I had no bed. I must have perished with cold, but that, the coldest nights, I used to steal a bag which was used for carrying corn to the mill. I would crawl into this bag, and there sleep on the cold, damp, clay floor, with my head in and feet out. My feet have been so cracked with the frost, that the pen with which I am writing might be laid in the gashes. We were not regularly allowanced. Our food was coarse corn meal boiled. This was called mush. It was put into a large wooden tray or trough, and set down upon the ground. The children were then called, like so many pigs, and like so many pigs they would come and devour the mush; some with oystershells, others with pieces of shingle, some with naked hands, and none with spoons. He that ate fastest got most; he that was strongest secured the best place; and few left the trough satisfied"
Document 3: Excerpt from Karl Marx's
“As soon as people, whose production still moves within the lower forms of slave-labor, courvee labor, etc., are drawn into the whirlpool of an international market dominated by the capitalistic mode of production, the sale of their products for export becoming their principal interest, the civilized horrors of over-work are grafted on the barbaric horrors of slavery, serfdom, etc. Hence the Negro labor in the Southern States of the American Union preserved something of a patriarchal character, so long as production was chiefly direced to immediate local consumption. But in proportion, as the export of cotton became of vital interest to these states, the over-working of the Negro and sometimes the using up of his life in 7 years' of labor became a factor in a calculated and calculating system. It was no longer a question of obtaining from him a certain quantity of useful products. It was now a questn of production of surplus-labor itself”

• Thomas Clarkson became an abolitionist after he was given this prompt for a Latin essay competition in 1785: “anne liceat invitos inservitutem dare”→ “Is it lawful to make slaves of others against their will?”

• Started researching slavery, and discovered horrors of transatlantic trade. Essay covering the slave trade and won first prize at University of Cambridge

• Co-founded Committtee for the Abolition of the Slave Trade, collected evidence and created visual charts like “The Middle Passage” to gain supporters for William Wilberforce’s campaign against slavery (to present to parliament)

• Parliament passes Slave Trade Act in 1807, and passes the Slavery Abolition Act in 1833

• Clarkson’s discovery of worsening conditions of slavery, such as those on the Middle Passage, prompted him to be an abolitionist (International)

• Once British Empire abolished slavery, Clarkson moved his focus towards America

from Karl Marx’s book Captial, written in 1867. Although it is written after 1860, he is reflecting on the time period of slavery in America, including 1820-1860. He witnessed and was alive during that time period in Germany, providing a primary international perspective
relevant to the prompt because it not only shows an international perspective on slavery in America, but also how the change in the conditions of slavery in America fomented a negative view of slavery in America internationally
Marx writes how production boom Capitalism provided lead to the worsening of the conditions of slaves in America. He writes how slavery has gone from the necessary hierarchy that sustains the world to “surplus labor.”
Fredrick Douglass was a ex-slave who became a free African Abolitionist in the North
In the passage, Douglass shows the cruel conditions that slaves endured under the rule of their masters
Douglass showed the true cruelties of slavery through out his narrative
Abolitionists who read the book would start using his writing and depictions to get people of the North to foment movements against slavery.
Document 4: Excerpt from Speech by Abolitionist Maria Stewart
“I have heard much respecting the horrors of slavery; but may Heaven forbid that the generality of my color throughout these United States should experience any more of its horrors than to be a servant of servants, or hewers of wood and drawers of water [Joshua 9:23]! Tell us no more of southern slavery; for with few exceptions, although I may be very erroneous in my opinion, yet I consider our position but little better than that. Yet, after all, methinks there are no chains so galling as those that bind the soul, and exclude it from the vast field of useful and scientific knowledge.”

delivered from abolitionist Maria Stewart on September 21, 1832. Stewart was a free black woman who devoted her life to speaking out against slavery.
purpose was to share her abolitionist ideas with the public, hoping getting some new followers in the abolitionist movement
It is relevant to the prompt because she speaks of how horrible the conditions of slavery are, saying “I have heard much respecting the horrors of slavery but may Heaven forbid that the generality of my color throughout these United States should experience any more of its horrors than to be a servant of servants.”
This demonstrates how the conditions of slavery are in part why she is an abolitionist. This covers the part of the prompt which asks about how the conditions of slavery fomented an abolitionist movement.
first slaves were imported to Jamestown, Virginia in 1619.
By the 1700s, most colonies had recognized slavery as a legal institution, allowing slavery in America to thrive. During most of the British colonial period, slavery existed in all the colonies.
People enslaved in the North typically worked as house servants, artisans, laborers and craftsmen, with the greater number in cities
The South depended on an agricultural economy, and it had a significantly higher number and proportion of slaves in the population, as its commodity crops were labor intensive. Early on, slaves in the South worked primarily in agriculture, on farms and plantations growing indigo, rice, and tobacco; cotton became a major crop after the 1790s
Hierarchy has always been a condition of slavery
chattel slavery originated in the Americas
• William Lloyd Garrison: one of the most influential anti-slavery activists of America’s antebellum era (publisher of The Liberator)

• As debates around slavery heated up, abolitionists like Garrison begin to use every-day pop culture to get their anti-slavery points across to the public

• Wrote an abolitionist song to the tune of “Auld Lange Syne”

• Explicitly attacks religious justification for slavery in his lyrics

• Song asks the question: “Which parts of our past should we forget?”

Dred Scott Decision
divided in definitions of "Democracy"
divided in definitions of "Christianity"
most couldn't decide between morality and economic sustenance
southern secession-->formation of the confederacy
Slaves were constantly whipped, overworked, and underfed
Common punishments for slaves were shackling, hanging, beating, burning, mutilation, branding, and imprisonment. Punishment was most often meted in response to disobedience or perceived infractions, but sometimes abuse was carried out simply to re-assert the dominance of the master or overseer over the slave.
slaves had no education of any sorts, for their masters feared that by reading, slaves would have the opportunity to obtain rebellious ideas.
Slaves were often under supplied with food and clothing as well.
Throughout the 19th century, many anti-slavery societies were formed, the vast majority of the in the North. Some examples are the Pennsylvania Abolition Society, the New York Manumission Society and the American Colonization Society.
Many abolitionists from countries around the world heard about the terrible things
slaves in America were going through—the conditions of
slavery—and wanted to help.
The idea of abolition was present in the North since the very beginning of Slavery in America.
But, the abolitionist movement really stated to pick up when more people found out about the injustices and horrors slaves went through, and started to speak out against it.
Timeline of Important Events
Document 2: abolitionist song
Document 3: Nat Turner's Rebellion
Nat Turner's Rebellion: 1831. Northerners could finally see anger in the South
Dred Scott: 1857. Supreme Court ruling that slavery is legal everywhere, and that all African Americans, according to Declaration of Independence, are not citizens
Nat Turner's Rebellion in 1831
Nat Turner was a slave in Virginia who led the rebellion with a crew of 56 other African Americans in 1831
The cause of the rebellion was anger stirred up in the slaves towards their master
Resulted in around 50 white deaths and 200 black deaths
South turned this even around in favor for their argument, saying slaves are dangerous and should be kept in order with slavery
from the Anti-slavery Almanac for 1840 by the American Anti-Slavery Society
point of this cartoon was to satirize the justification of slavery that plantations were just like one big family, where the plantation owners love and care for their slaves like children
Similarly, the cartoon ridicules the Justification of slavery that slaves were innately childlike and needed to be taken care of
On the contrary, the slaves in the picture look like they are hard at work, bearing their responsibilities
shows the paternalism justification of slavery that slaves were innately childlike and needed to be watched over by the whites
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