Slavery as a Positive Good Question
When referring to the days of slavery, it is often assumed that the south was the sole force behind its continuance. However there were many factors which lead southerners as well as some in the north to quietly accept slavery as a good thing. John Calhoun declared in 1837 “Many in the South once believed that [slavery] was a moral and political evil…That folly and delusion are gone; we see it now in its true light, and regard it as the most safe and stable basis for free institutions in the world” (p. 345). This statement was justified by various reasons. There was the fundamental belief that Africans were inferior to their white counterparts. Many saw the slave population as a labor force that ‘had it made’ as it were. The institution had also become so ingrained into the southern way of life that most had come to think of their human property as part of the family.
The southern cotton empire was not limited to the south. Cotton was farmed and harvested by the plantation slaves. It was bundled and load onto trains and ships by slaves and white laborer’s alike. Then it was sent north, west or east to Europe. Demand was so great that even farmers with small land plots and a handful of slaves could turn a profit with cotton or the second most profitable crop, tobacco.
Once the raw cotton left the southern states, it often made its way to textile mills up north. A large percentage of people at this time were either employed by the mills or a business related to it such as a mode of shipping or retail. They also realized that these jobs would not exist without a steady supply of raw cotton picked by forced labor. Talk of anything that would endanger employment would have been frowned upon.
Slavery also allowed “perfect equality among white, liberating them from the ‘low menial’ jobs like factory labor and domestic service performed by wage workers in the north” (p. 345). With these jobs perpetually filled,...
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