Why Slavery was the Engine of American Economic Growth

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Why Slavery was the Engine of American Economic Growth essay

America views slavery in a negative perspective. It’s not very known that there were some positives aspects that benefited America’s economy. From the years 1619 to 1865, slavery became very important to the South because it supported the economic side of agriculture. The slave-based economy was somewhat separate from the market revolution. If it wasn’t for slavery, the North wouldn’t have been able to grow when industrializing the cotton textile. Cotton textile was one of the first industrially producing businesses because three-fourths of the world’s cotton came from the American south. Because there were fewer slaves in the North they weren’t as productive as the south. Therefore, if it wasn’t for slavery and their treatment in the South they wouldn’t have been able to meet the worlds demand on cotton. To begin, Cotton was a massive business and this lead to cotton being an endless demand. The influence of cotton in the north was a root cause of shipments overseas that made northern merchants rich, northern bankers fund the purchase of land for plantations, and northern insurance companies provide slaves with who were considered property. In addition, turning cotton into cloth for sale overseas were produced in northern factories. They were also sold back to the south where it was used to cloth the very same slaves who have picked it. Slavery had a massive effect in the south and southern agriculture/industry. Due to cotton being the king of the south, By 1840, the South grew 60 percent of the world’s cotton (Mintz, Steven). The mass production of cotton was an enormous selling point for the economy in such a short time span.

The majority of the south was agricultural and rural. There was very little industry in the south, producing almost 10% of the nations manufactured goods/resources. Most of the deep south was invested in the purchase of slaves, which lead little to no room for technological innovations. People only focused on owning slaves, rather than seeing their benefit and what they could do to advance production. This resulted in even poor citizens renting slaves. From the evidence above, owning slaves and using them for mass production for that cotton plantations proved to be very effective. Furthermore, People in the south argued against the ending of slavery because it was wrong but also thought that slaves were well taken care of by their masters. People stated that slaves were fed well, clothed comfortably, and able to live in a decent home. This entitled masters to distinguish themselves as kindheartedness to contrast their family-oriented slavery with the cold, money-orientated capitalism of the free-labor north. This faced backlash, however, because some southerners reasoned that the concept of slavery was good for social order. Also said from one of the best known proposals from John C Calhoun in 1837, I hold that in the present state of civilization, where two races of different origin, and distinguished by color, and other physical differences, as well as intellectual, are brought together, the relation now existing in the slaveholding States between the two, is, instead of an evil, a good“a positive good . Growing up with a mindset that slaves were merely just property meant no more to them, than the land they had worked.

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This easily led to people such as John C Calhoun, to serving rolls such as secretary of war from 1817-1825, vice president from 1825-1832, and secretary of state from 1844-1845. With this, many southerners made a ton of attempts trying to justify slavery through biblical passages and examples from Greeks and Romans through the use of ought right racism. Southerners argued that black people were inherently inferior to whites; therefore, not keeping them in slavery would trouble the order of society. Moreover, enable to keep cotton production at a peak, the life a slave lived turned for the worse. Louisiana law proclaimed that a slave owes his master a resect without bounds, and an absolute obedience. This proved how conditions really varied in the life of a slave. All slaves labored, usually from dawn until dusk and almost always without pay. Slaves who worked in cotton plantations suffered from conditions that were very conflicting, depending on the time of year. Slaves on rice plantations in the south had unpleasant working conditions but they worked up until they had completed their allotted daily work, so then they would have time to do other things. On cotton fields, slaves worked in groups known as gangs. To ensure optimal performance slaves were shadowed by an overseer or another slave called a driver . The work slaves put harvesting at cotton farms was extremely back-breaking. Work was done under the southern sun and humidity. Even though the conditions weren’t merely great, without slaves the south wouldn’t have been able to grow and flourish and show others that slaves were a big help in advancing in mass production. The treatment of slaves also derived up cotton production. The slaves were tortured in gruesome factor. Slave masters used different types of discipline that weren’t humanly right. Whipping was one of the ways they disciplined. This occurred when slaves were told to get back to work or put them in their place when not doing as they’re instructed. Whipping was one of the worst things slaves endured. Commonly if a slave had brought in less cotton than the previous weigh-in they would get whipped.

A woman who was a slave when she was younger stated The overseer went to my father one morning and said: Bob, I’m going to whip you this morning. Daddy said, I ain’t done nothing, and he said, I know it, I’m going to whip you to keep you from doing nothing, and he hit him with that cowhide – you know it would cut the blood out of you with every lick if they hit you hard (In Praise of Black Women: Heroines of the slavery era). This brutality was necessary in order for demands to be met, slaves had to be dehumanized an able to obey and work in conditions that they didn’t want to. Productivity, in large part, did increase. But it came on the backs of slaves with heavier workloads, longer hours, and more intense punishments. The great limitation to production is labor, wrote one commentator in the American Cotton Planter in 1853 Slaveholders used this practice enable to meet demands. By using meeting demands and an excuse slave masters felt they were able to vindicate what they were doing. Masters wanted to dehumanize slaves to the extent where both masters and slaves believed slaves are reduced to chattel slavery . This brought the idea to slaveholders to not have slaves think of slaves as human and slaves would follow suit. The brutal working conditions that slaves were put through was wrong. However, if it wasn’t for these conditions slaves wouldn’t have been able to supply the cotton demand that was being asked all over the world. On the other hand, slaves made better of their situation. Degrading sleeves to just machines would cause more psychological problems than just a low supply. Luckily for Africans they found a way around This took into many accounts, but the primary account was by forming families. A family was an escape from slavery and a source of dignity. Naturally, this would reach the attention of their masters and they would try to ruin it at any cost. A slave owner named Bennet H. Barrow wrote in his rules for the Highland Plantation: no rule that I have stated is of more importance than that relating to negroes marrying outside of the plantation. It creates a feeling of independence. (crash course) Most slaves married until death do them apart and likely brought children, however, it would be very common that the child would be raised by a single parent because the other would have been sold. Slave marriages were acknowledged by other slaves but never legally.

Most commonly a third of slave marriages in the states like Virginia were separated by being sold. Hundreds of thousands of marriages, many with children, fell victim to sale downriver Religion was also important in life to slaves. Most slaves were prohibited to learn how to read and write but many did anyway. This lead to some slaves becoming preachers. These preachers were often very strong in character as leaders, which alerted the suspicion of slave owners, and not without reason. Nat Turner, the leader of the great slave rebellion, found inspiration from religion early in life. Adopting an austere Christian lifestyle during his adolescence, Turner claimed to have been visited by spirits during his twenties and considered himself something of a prophet. Two of the most crucial slave uprisings in the south were lead by preachers. Another resistance tactic from the psychological degrading was running away. There were some slaves who escaped for good by running to the northern free states and or even to Canada where African Americans didn’t have to worry about fugitive slave laws. Many slaves that ran away didn’t have anywhere to go, so they hid in the woods or the swamps. This condition led many of them to return. It is not known how many slaves escaped to freedom but estimates show that a thousand or so a year made the journey Northwood. Many fugitive slaves were men but the most famous of them all was Harriet Tubman of course. Harriet Tubman is perhaps the most well-known of all the Underground Railroad’s “conductors.” During a ten-year span, she made 19 trips into the South and escorted over 300 slaves to freedom. And, as she once proudly pointed out to Frederick Douglass, in all of her journeys she “never lost a single passenger.” Harriet Tubman saved hundreds of people from further torture.

Others took matters into their own hands who beat or killed their white overseers and the masters. There was a more histrionic form of resistance to slavery which was through the use of arms. Known as armed rebellions which were relatively rare. a few examples where Gabriel’s rebellion in 1800 which didn’t happen due to the plot being found before it could happen. Then, in 1811 from a group of slaves upriver from Newlands marched to the city before they were stopped. In 1822, Denmark Vesey a former slave had bought his freedom and organized an action point to destroy Charleston, South Carolina. The most successful slave rebellion was in August of 1831. Nat Turner who had walked farm to farm killing inhabitants whom mostly contained women and children due to men attending a religious revival meeting in North Carolina. Before Turner and 17 others were executed they had put fear and terror in the hearts of whites all across the south. To continue, this leads to Virginia passing more laws that made lives on slaves harsher and forbade slaves from fleeing and the ability to learn how to read. Because those horrific acts happened, all slaves were punished for it. By the 1830s slavery had grown harsher. In reality, slavery was forced labor that relied upon intimidation, brutality, dehumanization.

Many of the founders did not support slavery such as Jefferson as it is, we have the wolf by the ear and we can either hold him more safely let him go. Justice is in one scale and self-preservation in the other . As slavery became more embedded, the ideas of liberty and political equality became more embraced by people. Also, a large-scaled armed resistance was more suicidal but also threatened loved ones and all slaves. Most importantly slaves did resist their oppression. At times this meant through the use of guns, however, this usually took place in less notable occurrences such as working slower on purpose and or purposely sabotaging equipment and not understanding instructions. Although, many slaves faced systematic and cultural degradation through faith and family they were able to reaffirm their humanity. Too often in America slaves are spoken about as if they failed to rise up but in fact, rising up wouldn’t have helped and wouldn’t have worked. Some proslavery advocates asserted that many slaves were content with their situation. African-American abolitionist J. Sella Martin countered that the apparent contentment was merely a psychological reaction to the exceedingly dehumanizing brutality that some slaves experienced, such as witnessing their spouses sold at auction or seeing their daughters raped. However searching for an individuality as a human in a social order that is constantly seeking and wanting to dehumanize an individual, is the most forceful form of resistance. By slaves refusing to become chattel from the masters believed them to be, led to the Civil War is inevitable. The ending of the Civil War won rights for African Americans. This put immense pressure on many southerners to meet the demand for cotton. In return, this built America up, even more, igniting itself into the industrial revolution. Without slavery, Americans and others around the world wouldn’t have realized that it was possible to mass produce. Slavery was an unforgivable act throughout the years but without the concept of people producing products, Americans wouldn’t have come to their senses and create more efficient ways of advancing production. Therefore, if it wasn’t for the slavery and the treatment of slaves in the south they wouldn’t have became the world’s largest supplier of cotton.


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Why Slavery Was The Engine Of American Economic Growth. (2019, Apr 03). Retrieved from https://papersowl.com/examples/why-slavery-was-the-engine-of-american-economic-growth/