The Presence Of Slavery In Antebellum America

Essay, Research Paper

During the decades after the War of 1812, American possessed a strong sense of nationalism. This pretentious concept of nationalism allowed the nation to settles its increasing differences between diverse areas of the United States. However, by the mid-nineteenth century. The efforts to that attempted to unite the country in the past were useless against the recently more intense pressure that were working to divide the nation and inevitably cause a bitter civil war. In order to determine that slavery was one of the main causes of the American Civil War, the social, political, and economical aspects of this cruel institution must be identified.

To begin with, there were many social problems concerning slavery and its role in American society. The Black family was utterly destroyed. Many slaves were separated from their families because they were sold or traded. This resulted in a majority of the slaves not knowing their heritage, not knowing when or where they came from. Abolitionists in the North and the South saw this peculiar institution as a cruel, degrading system that exploited African Americans. But White southerners defended slavery and tried to portray it as a good, beneficial program. For example Ulrich B. Phillip claimed that slavery was a primarily harmless system in which friendly slaveholders monitored servile, infantile and usually happy Black slaves. Actually this was the belief of many masters in the South. To them, Blacks were an inferior race that needed to be civilized and domesticated. Several abolitionists challenged the morals of these views and protested and petitioned the government to rectify this shameful existence of slavery in America. The breach between the North and the South grew larger still.

Furthermore, political rifts began to surface pertaining to the disagreement about slavery among Americans. Essentially, in the North, they gathered together against enslavement. In the early 1800s, the people who were against slavery, a mild and courteous group declared moralistic condemnation but took on a few obvious activities. One such organization of white abolitionists in 1817 was called American Colonization Society (ACS). This group of Virginians worked to challenge slavery, but not to overstep the boundaries of personal property. Nevertheless, by 1830, the antislavery movement had begun to lose strength in America. Suddenly there emerged several key figures that helped to revive this cause. William Lloyd Garrison and Benjamin Lundy were just a few that expressed their repugnance for slavery. There were also many prevalent Black abolitionists such as Frederick Douglass and Harriet Tubman that emerged during this time period to join the fight against slavery. Out from this enlarging antislavery movement dawned a fresh and influential appearance of abolitionism, which deserted mild improvement and declared firmly the instantaneous liberation of the slaves.

Moreover, during this era there was a lot of tension concerning slavery in the United States territories. In the so-called Wilmot Proviso, Rep. David Wilmot submitted an amendment to the approbation bill that would outlaw slavery in the newly procured land from Mexico. However the bill didn t pass and didn t resurface until years later. Meanwhile, Southern radicals planned to make sure that slavery existed in the territories. President Polk supported a proposition to extend the Missouri Compromise line across to the Pacific. After the election of President Zachary Taylor in 1848 and the California gold rush of 1849, the question about slavery in the West resurfaced. It resulted in the Compromise of 1850, which essentially admitted California as a free state and enforced a stricter, more effective fugitive slave law. Even though both parties ratified the Compromise of 1850, both sides felt a wary sense discontent. Throughout the 1850s, several recurring instances concerning slavery in American, in essence, enlarged the breach between the North and the South; such as the Kansas-Nebraska Crisis and Bleeding Kansas, the Pro-Slavery Argument, the election of President Lincoln, and John Brown s raid. But the case that set the standard for one of the most disputed controversies in the history of the U. S. Supreme Court was the Dred Scot Decision. This ruling deemed that [Black] slaves are indeed not citizens and only property, they do not have the right the court system, and can be taken anywhere their masters desire, whether on slave or free soil, and remain a slave regardless of the circumstances. To say the least the South was elated and very pleased with the outcome of the hearing. On the contrary, the North was outraged and bitterly criticized the decision.

Economically, the South mainly relied on mass cotton and tobacco production. Of course, the only obvious means, or so they imagined, supporting this system was mass slavery. During this prosperous agricultural growth, Southerners found fortune in slave trade. The frequent movement of slaves from state to state ultimately resulted in the development of the Southwest. Many times slaveholders relocated and migrated to new cotton areas accompanied by their slaves. Professional slave traders transported slaves over long distances in trains, by boats, or on foot in chain gangs. At a slave auctions, the slaves were sold like live stock, looking at their teeth, seeing how strong or healthy they were. Between the 1840 and 1860, healthy male slaves were sold varyingly from $500 to $1700, relying mostly on the wavering price of cotton. A sexually attractive female might be valued for much more. Although southern slave trade was crucial to the South s prosperity, it had dire, degrading effects on everyone involved. It wrecked the Black family as a whole.

In summary, the differences between the North and the south were a consequence of differences of natural resources, differences in social system, differences in climate, and ultimately differences in morals. Overall, they were the outcome of the presence within the South an unliberated labor system that prevented the kind of social mobility that a commercializing society generally demands and that possessed a significant percentage of southern populace in enfeebling enslavement. In favor of concluding that slavery was one of the principle reasons the American Civil War occurred, the societal, governmental, and commercial characteristics of this unnatural establishment are analyzed.



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