The Antebellum World View: Assumptions About Slavery Held by Many Southerners

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The Antebellum World View: Assumptions about Slavery held by many Southerners

After the end of the Revolutionary War in 1783, issues arose concerning the institution of slavery in the Americas. Most of the inhabitants in the North wanted abolition of the slave trade and of slavery, but there were many who opposed this view, primarily in the Southern States below Virginia. Pro-slavery apologists contributed many different view-points of the argument for slavery. Edmund Ruffin defends slavery from an economic view, Josiah Nott from a scientific view, Thornton Stringfellow from a theological view, George Fitzhugh from a sociological view, John C. Calhoun from a political view, and James Hammond and Edward Pollard from a philosophical and racial view. With these intellectual defenses of slavery, many people were persuaded to join this movement, leading to the eventual secession of the states from the Union and the Civil War.

In Edmund Ruffin’s economic view of slavery, he argues that slavery, although not always morally sound, is good for the economy of the Southern states and that abolishing it could have detrimental effects on the economy of the states as a whole. Ruffin also argues that there will come a time for slavery to be cast away and free labor to advance in place of slavery as an institution. Free labor will become even cheaper than slavery. He argues that the pros of slavery heavily outweigh the cons, concluding that slavery not only increases public wealth, but solidifies racial differences and creates a steady flow of labor.

In Josiah Nott’s scientific view of slavery, he claims that it is scientifically proven that Africans are the weaker, less intellectual race and that as the dominant race, it is our God given right to have them serve under us. Nott refers to the “scientific racism” that began with Samuel Morton, which concludes that intelligence is dependent on skull size. Through Morton’s studies, Nott concludes that Europeans are more...
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