Segments descriptions
      Regions of the U.S. Series
      South, Part 1

                Description: Slavery 4

South, Part 1
:        sampler 3’   (58’ lecture)

Why, other than moral differences, does slavery
 develop mainly in the South rather than in the
North, and what mythology does the master class
of the South develop about itself?                                                 
play sampler


Early Settlers 



The Indians.    The region is settled by the Indians 1,000 years before European settlers arrive.  The climate and terrain are greatly different from the Northeast.  Indian tribes are of a range of natures, and generally are thriving.



The Europeans arrive in 1607, settle Virginia, push for land, and eventually are resisted by the Indians.  Charters are granted to the Southern colonies.  Maryland is a safe haven for Catholics.  Georgia is a safe haven for ex-convicts. 



Indentured servants.  Blacks arrive in Jamestown in 1619 from West Africa or England as indentured servants who are free to farm their own land after obligations are satisfied.  Chattel labor comes later.  The desire for land in the colonies is unlimited.  The minority elite whites fear an alliance of white and black indentured servants, and eventually drive a wedge between them by passing laws to differentiate them, until the onset of slavery. 



White Master Class mythology.  They develop their own mythology of their origins from upper class English gentry, not from their actual poor beginnings.  The lower class whites adapt this same mythology although there is little prospect for their improvement.




Slavery in the South



Why the South and not the North?  This is not because of moral issues, but rather the climate and lay of the land.  In the North the climate is harsh, the terrain rocky, allows only for small farms where slave labor is impractical.  The South's climate and terrain allow for year-around crops of tobacco, rice and indigo, and later, cotton. 

Slavery becomes crucial for the South.  At first is is a "necessary evil." 



The American Revolution.  The white Master Class in the South sees independence as a chance to renege on debts to English banks.  Politically, this Master Class wants to rule when independent, although there is a belief in freedom stirred by the French Reformation. 



After the American Revolution.  America adds land to the Mississippi River.  In 1790 the Northwest Ordinance prohibits slavery in the Midwest but is allowed in the Southern territories.  The Eli Whitney cotton gin invention changes the South's economy, making cotton king in the South.   Now slavery is a "positive good."  The white-black relationship is portrayed as paternalistic not directly but is internalized.  The white Master Class is intent on the way of life based on slavery in the face of all arguments. 



Slavery.  Daily life and work of field slaves is harsh with limited variety of food, sparse clothing, but have some privacy at night.  The house slaves dress well, eat leftovers from the master's table, have a higher status than the field slaves.  The slaves are valuable commodities and are not killed unless there are repeated escapes, in which case they might be mutilated.  Slaves have leverage in various ways.  The Underground Railroad has its limits because escaped blacks cannot blend in with the population as they can in Brazil. 



Religion.  At first Christianity is seen as too good for the blacks who bring with them their religion from West Africa.  Later, at the beginning of the 19th century, there are increasing conversions to Christianity.  Sermons urge acceptance of slavery and control by the Master Class.  The plantation slave preacher becomes a leader of revolt at night.  Slaves adapt a form of resistance by seeing Moses, who led the slaves out of bondage, as their hero.  Protestants condemn slaves to hell as unredeemable.  Religion in Brazil sees slaves as human, redeemable. 




The slave family.  Chattel cannot be family which exists only informally.  Marriage by "stepping over the broom."  The ever-present fear of separation, and powerless to protect each other.  Harsh upbringing of slave children. 



Gender.  White women on pedestal.  Only men have sexual urges.  Women may look elsewhere, seek out black men, with dangerous consequences.  White men come to believe stereotypes about black men. 



Resistance.  Slaves adapt a form of resistance by seeing Moses, who led the slaves out of bondage, as their hero.  Resistance takes the form of breaking of tools, slowdowns, and other sabotage from field hands.  The dependence of the white mistress on her nanny offers other indirect opportunities.



Pre-Civil War period.  Politics are dominated by the South which wins the 3/5 clause value of slaves represented in electoral votes.  Until the Civil War, presidents are either weak or overwhelmingly sympathetic to the South.  The expansion of U.S. territory by President Polk after the Mexican War, and the Dred Scott decision by the Supreme Court that slaves are chattel and in effect opening all territory not states to slavery. 



Growing secularism.  The Fugitive Slave Act is a win for the South.  The North wins California as a free state.  The high tariff policy favored by the industrial North upsets the South.  South Carolina threatens to secede but backs down under military threat.  The class alliance proposal is turned down by the North for economic reasons not moral ones.  The North is growing faster than the South and is more diversified.  The South does not grow enough food to feed itself. 



The election of 1860.  Abraham Lincoln is elected, leads to the secession crisis and the Civil War. 



Was the Civil War necessary?  In economic terms slavery is a dying institution yet the ideological power of slavery on the Southern mind powers a way of life.  Lincoln, a unionist, will not let the South secede.  The North wins the war because of its advantages and the South's disadvantages.  



The North wins the war.  The North wins the war because of its advantages and the South’s disadvantages.  The North has banks to finance the war, transportation, factories, superior manpower, effective leadership, all lacking in the South.  Because cotton is the major crop, the South has insufficient food for its population, ineffective leadership, lack of military unity because of ist doctrine of states’ rights, its economy is based on the questionable loyalty of slave labor.  In the beginning the South has better generals, is more of a gun culture, and has higher morale, all of which are insufficient in the balance.



Emancipation Proclamation of April 1863 frees slaves in Confederate states where the North has no hold but does not free slaves in areas it does control.  Not a single slave is freed, but it has military value because it allows escaped slaves to serve in the Union army.  By the end of the war, 1/4 million blacks are under arms.