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Social Classes in the Old South

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Alyson Perenne

on 18 April 2013

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Transcript of Social Classes in the Old South

At the top of southern society stood a small elite of wealthy planter families. They are split into two groups, the Traditional aristocrats of the Old South, and the Upstart Capitalist-inclined planters of the cotton states. Smallholding Planters and Yeomen Farmers Capitalist-Inclined Planters of the Cotton State The Planter Elites Traditional Aristocrats of the Old South Life of a Yeomen Farmer Yeoman: term for the independent land-owning farmer Lower Class of the South These planters and yeomen farmers owned about 1 to 5 black slaves and also a few hundred acres. Social Classes in the Old South They where located in the black water regions of Alabama and Mississippi. They were cruel to slaves and developed a gang labor system. Their main product was cotton. They gained their wealth from tobacco and rice in the tide water region of Chesapeake, and the low country of south Carolina and Georgia. They had an Aristocratic and English culture and were very traditional. To maintain their status and identity they married their sons and daughters.
They criticized the increase in democratic polity in the Northeast and Midwest. "Inequality is the fundamental law of the universe." The Old Southern social classes can connect to modern day with the way things are produced. Gang labor was used to mass produce products just as society does today. Introduction: In the south of the United States during the nineteenth century, there was a class of property less whites. They were constantly compared to slaves, since they had to find work similar to that of slaves. This not as wealthy class earned little respect for the hard labor they had to endure. It was also difficult for their children to have a better future since education was not funded by the slave owners. " The Southern Middle Class" by: Chris Wong, Alyson Perenne, and Danielle Dargis Middle-class planters owned 40 percent of the slave population. Most pursued dual careers as skilled artisans or professional men. Smallholders made up majority of slave owners. Some were well brought up men who would rise to wealth after their father’s death
Others were poor but were determined to pull themselves up- they saved or borrowed enough money to acquire more land and slaves. Males- were head of household. Also had legal right on his property to be as harsh as he pleases.
During this time, men had most of the authority. Women had little power- lost legal identity when they got married.
Southern women joined churches and believed in spiritual eqauality. Most southern yeomen lived and died as "self working farmers"- worked alongside their slaves, struggled to make more money, and moved constantly in search for new opportunities. Other smallholders fell short of their privileged rank- they had to sell their land and slaves to pay off their debts.
They joined a group of propertyless tenants who farmed the estates of wealthy landlords. What's the Connection? Between the 1800 and 1860s, the Southern society expanded and created three different social classes. This was the Old South before the Civil War. Despite the popular image of the region as a land of elegant planters and obedient slaves, the Old South was a much more complex society. The South became known as a "slave society" because slavery affected all aspects of southern life. The South had three main social classes: The planter elites, the yeomen farmers and the poorfree men. Because they were looked down upon and given little respect, the poor southern whites decided to move away from planter counties mainly in the south. Instead they found refuge in the Appalachian mountain region. There, it was possible to have a life as a small yeoman farmer growing provisions to support the family. The extra crops grown were sold, along with farm animals and sometimes cotton, for a low but supportable profit.

The goals of these yeoman farmers were rather moderate and achievable in their new society and social standing. As farmers, maintaining status and slowly acquiring more more for their children was the main goal. In government, control and public office was the mission. The lower class of the south suffered through many sacrifices, such as being forced into patrols in order to keep slave riots down, even though they didn't own slaves, and it was difficult to rise through the ranks. Although they were consistently compared to slaves, the poor freeman had the only salvation that they were not as low as the slaves were considered. Migration North Work Cited Henretta, James A, Rebecca Edwards, and Robert O.Self America’s

History. Boston: Bedford/St.Martin’s, 2011. 370-376. Print. "Plain Folk of the Old South." - The Old South. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 Apr. 2013. "History of the Deep South: The Different Social Classes." Yahoo!

Contributor Network. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 Apr. 2013.
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