How Supporters of Slavery Used Legal, Religious, and Economic Arguments to Defend the Institution

Topics: Slavery in the United States, American Civil War, Slavery Pages: 5 (1531 words) Published: March 15, 2007
Throughout the history of the United States, there have always been conflicts between the North and the South. Basically throughout the 1900s, the North and South acted somewhat childishly towards each other about different topics. As the North became more industrialized and self sufficient, the South stayed behind and depended heavily on other countries for manufactured goods in exchange for cotton. The North felt superior to the South, and the South was not pleased about that. Although most Northerners didn't care much for slavery, there were handfuls that were abolitionists and attacked the South on their "backwards" economy that depended on slavery . In the South, not everyone was a slaveholder as one may think; there were actually more non slaveholders than slaveholders simply because slaves were expensive "property that only the wealthier Southerners could afford. Although many Southerners didn't own slaves, they still did not attack the institution of slavery. Why? The answer is simple, many non-slaveholders hoped to become slaveholders one day. They also accepted the racist ways on which slavery was based. Both Southern slaveholders and non-slaveholders didn't like the idea of emancipation simply because they feared that blacks might believe themselves equal with whites and back then, that seemed ridiculous . They concluded that emancipation would cause a race war and were therefore against any sort of abolition of slavery . This is why the supporters of slavery used legal, religious, and economic-2-arguments to defend the institution, they were simply accustomed to the lifestyle slavery provided for them and they weren't going to let it go without a fight.

The supporters of slavery knew how to defend the institution well, especially when it came to legal rights. How could they protect the institution of slavery in their favor while using something that was common ground with the North as well? Southerners used the common ground of the constitution and used one of the amendments, the 5th amendment, to protect their institution. The 5th amendment states:"No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation."The Southerners used a strict interpretation of the law and argued that slaves were their property and that abolitionists could not emancipate their slaves because it would be in violation of the 5th amendment. Even though slaveholders would be offered because of the compensation, they felt that it would not be enough in return for them having to free their slaves because their whole way of life depended on slavery, since they were nowhere near as industrialized as the South. The only compensation the Southerners could think of was colonizing the slaves in Africa, because then they wouldn't have to worry about the slaves thinking they were the same as whites. The problem with this was of course that it was unrealistic in the sense that there were millions of slaves and many of them had never been to Africa so it wouldn't make sense to send them there . Since-3-supporters of slavery saw this as the only valid compensation, and since it wasn't possible, they kept defending the institution.

Another way they used a legal argument to protect slavery was during the Dred Scott vs. Sandford case. Dred Scott was a slave that sued for his freedom, arguing that since he had been in both a free state and a free territory he had become legally free, and could not have afterwards gone back to...

Bibliography: .Eaton, Clement. The Growth of Southern Civilization, 1790-1860 . 19612.Heyrman, Christine Leigh. Southern Cross: The Beginnings of the Bible Belt. 19973.Kolchin, Peter. American Slavery, 1619-1877. 19934.Information on South Search (Google). Online, Internet at, Clark, Kett, Salisbury, Sitkoff, Woloch. The Enduring Vision. Houghton-Mifflin. 2004.
6.Dred Scott Case Search (Yahoo). Online, Internet at Fifth Amendment Search (Google). Online, Internet at Slavery Search (Dictionary). Online, Internet at
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