Economic Basis of African Slavery in the United States

Only available on StudyMode
  • Download(s): 222
  • Published: March 30, 2010
Read full document
Text Preview
Economic Basis of African Slavery in the United States

In early American history slave owners were mainly of the Christian faith and believed in the literal truth of the Bible. They felt that many quotes in the bible gave them a “right” to use slaves for prophet. One such quote comes from Colossians 3:22 “Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything; and do it, not only when their eye is on you and to win their favor, but with sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord.”

There are several economic factors contributing to African slavery in the United States, three of which will be discussed. Tariffs are one major economic factor that contributed to slavery in the US. The United States federal government taxed imports at rates from 5 to 15 percent, the taxes were primarily designed to create revenue to pay expenses and part of the national debt that the federal government had. These tariffs increase the price of items brought into the US from overseas. As the shipping costs rose and the taxes increased as well as the need for the importers to make a profit as well, the costs of these imported goods became too high and the demand for US products grew.

Such products as Cotton and Tobacco could be grown and harvested in the US and sold at a far lower price, and slaves were used to harvest these products and avoid the tariffs. Avoiding many of the costs of importing these types of products and using slaves to harvest them allowed the owners of the slaves to make the money they needed to survive and become wealthy.

Another major economic factor contributing to the growth of slavery in the US was the high demand of cotton. In 1793 the invention of the cotton gin, which separated the cotton seeds from the fiber, made it possible for plantation owners to produce more cotton products faster but the harvesting of the cotton could not keep up, more and more slaves were used to harvest the cotton just to keep up with the gin capacity. Once again not having to pay the slaves allowed the plantation owners to become wealthier and maintain a lifestyle they have become accustom to.

As time continued, the southern economy became reliant on an Agricultural economy and the growth of agriculture is another economic factor in contributing to slavery in the US. Southern Plantation owners not only were heavy in cotton and tobacco but also started growing rice, corn, wheat, hemp and sugar. In order for the economy to grow the plantations needed to grow, and as the plantations grow so did the number of slaves. Slavery grew to maintain an economy based on agriculture, once again using unpaid slaves allowed owners to continue to get wealthy and maintain there lifestyle. As the slave trade grew so did the relationship between the Plantation owners and the slave traders so much so that exporting became a factor in the economy of slavery in the US. With the so called free labor that slaves brought to the plantations, the owners were able to produce items at such a cheap rate they could sell them as exports to other countries and make money. The cost of these goods in other countries were more expensive to produce mainly because of the cost of labor, where in the south labor was done by slaves. The plantation owners and the slave traders were able to come to agreements allowing both parties the ability to make money, Plantation owners sold goods to other countries and Traders hauled the product back and forth overseas for a profit.

Tariffs, cotton, tobacco and an economy based on agriculture, as well as additional income due to exports are a few major factors that contributed to slavery in the United States. The issue of slavery divided the Southern part of the states from the Northern. The North separated themselves as an economy based on industry instead of Agriculture. As Abraham Lincoln campaigned against the expansion of slavery beyond the states in which it already existed it made the northern states conclude that slavery...
tracking img