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APUSH-9-A-3

Southern society and culture


3a.  Gradations of White society

3b.  Nature of slavery; 'peculiar institution'

3c.  The mind of the South


Resources:

The Old South
Resource Type: E-Seminar

Relevant pages:
The Cotton Kingdom: The Economics of Cotton
Plantation Values: The Paternalist Vision
Plantation Values: The Harsher Reality
Plantation Values: The Defense of Slavery
Plantation Values: A System of Subordination
Slave Life and Culture: Varieties of Slave Labor
Slave Life and Culture: Order and Discipline
Slave Life and Culture: Slave Communities
Resistance to Slavery: Day-to-Day Resistance
Resistance to Slavery: Running Away
Resistance to Slavery: Rebellion
Resistance to Slavery: Suppression

Relevant texts:
Excerpt from John C. Calhoun's "Speech to the Senate on the Reception of Abolition Petitions."
Letters concerning a freed slave and his still-enslaved wife.
Excerpt from Solomon Northup, Twelve Years a Slave.
Excerpts from new laws to control slaves in Virginia, North Carolina, and Alabama.
Excerpts from new laws to control slaves in Virginia, North Carolina, and Alabama.

Relevant transcripts:
Professor Foner describes owners' techniques for controlling their slaves.
Since husbands and wives, fathers and mothers could be sold, there were many kinds of slave families, where gender roles differed from those in white society.
Slaves with a talent for preaching were found on many plantations, and the lessons they found in the Bible differed from those taught by white ministers.
Some runaway slaves melted into the free black population of cities; others escaped into isolated areas.
Professor Foner tells the story of Nat Turner's rebellion.

Relevant interactive tools:
In the nineteenth century, slavery spread rapidly throughout the South, crossed the Mississippi River into Texas and Arkansas, and began to concentrate in the richest cotton-growing regions. An internal slave trade developed to supply slaves to the expanding Cotton Kingdom of the Deep South.
In the nineteenth century, slavery spread rapidly throughout the South, crossed the Mississippi River into Texas and Arkansas, and began to concentrate in the richest cotton-growing regions. An internal slave trade developed to supply slaves to the expanding Cotton Kingdom of the Deep South.
But the reality of slavery was far more harsh and brutal than this paternalist vision would lead one to believe. The basic flaw in the paternalist vision was that fathers generally do not sell their children. If slaves were part of the master's family, how could one explain the sale of hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of slaves?
But the reality of slavery was far more harsh and brutal than this paternalist vision would lead one to believe. The basic flaw in the paternalist vision was that fathers generally do not sell their children. If slaves were part of the master's family, how could one explain the sale of hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of slaves?
The conditions of life for those slaves who worked in the fields varied according to the kind of plantation or farm they lived on and the crop they were growing.
The conditions of life for those slaves who worked in the fields varied according to the kind of plantation or farm they lived on and the crop they were growing.

The Struggle for Freedom
Resource Type: E-Seminar

Relevant pages:
Conclusion

The Cotton Kingdom: The Industrial Revolution
Resource Type: Primary Source
The First Cotton-Gin. Wood engraving by William L. Sheppard in Harper's Weekly (December 18, 1869).

John C. Calhoun (1782–1850)
Resource Type: Primary Source
Lawyer, senator, and vice president under two different administrations (John Quincy Adams and Andrew Jackson), John C. Calhoun of South Carolina was both an ardent supporter of states' rights in the extreme and a developer of well-constructed proslavery arguments. For Calhoun, the difference between masterful whites and enslaved Africans in the slaveholding states demonstrated that slavery was not an evil but a "positive good." The "positive good" argument helped to bolster the idea that it was the free white factory worker whose life was ultimately more debased than that of any enslaved person—an argument that assumed that all masters were "good" and that disregarded the basic desire of all people for liberty.

The Secession Crisis
Resource Type: Document-Based Question
This selection of primary sources allows students to interpret the Civil War as an ideological battle, pitting abolitionists against slavery's apologists, and Northerners against Southerners. Students will understand why most of the Southern states chose secession over union.

Slavery a Positive Good
Resource Type: Primary Source
John C. Calhoun was vice president of the United States (1825-32) and U.S. senator from South Carolina for most of the period from 1832 to 1850.

Illustrations of the Pro-Slavery Argument
Resource Type: Primary Source
These illustrations support the institution of slavery. Why?

Frederick Douglass and his Mother
Resource Type: Primary Source
Frederick Douglass's autobiography is considered one of the classic slave narratives and was written for the abolitionist cause.

Conditions of Slaves vs. Free Laborers
Resource Type: Primary Source
Historians consider George Fitzhugh (1806–81) as one of the most eloquent, influential, and popular spokespersons for slavery.

Frederick Douglass Describes a Whipping
Resource Type: Primary Source
Radical abolitionists sought to document their claims about the horrors of slavery.

Capitalism, Slavery, and Free Labor
Resource Type: Primary Source
Apologists for slavery, like George Fitzhugh, often argued that the investment in slaves positively influenced the way slaveowners treated them.

The "Mudsill" Theory
Resource Type: Primary Source
Senator James Henry Hammond explains that every society is based on the exploitation of a lower class. To Hammond, the pursuit of civilization is impossible without a class to do the drudge work.

Lincoln on Striking Shoemakers
Resource Type: Primary Source
During the presidential campaign in 1860, Abraham Lincoln traveled to New England and gave the following speech related to the famous strike of shoemakers in Lynn, Massachusetts. The newspaper that reprinted the speech indicated the audience's reaction in the bracketed information, provided in the excerpt below.

Plantation Values: The Paternalist Vision
Resource Type: Primary Source
America. Lithograph by Edward Williams Clay (1841). A highly idealized portrayal of the relationship between a slaveowning family and its slaves. The old slave in the foreground says, "God Bless you massa! you feed and clothe us. When we are sick you nurse us, and when too old to work, you provide for us!" The paternalist master vows, "These poor creatures are a sacred legacy from my ancestors and while a dollar is left me, nothing shall be spared to increase their comfort and happiness."

Plantation Values: The Defense of Slavery
Resource Type: Primary Source
Slavery as It Exists in America. Slavery as It Exists in England. Lithograph (1850). One Northerner asks, "Is this the way slaves are treated in the South?" and the other adds, "Is it possible that we of the North have been so deceived by false Reports? Why did we not visit the South before we caused this trouble between the North and South, and so much hard feelings amongst our friends at home?" One Southerner replies, "It is as a general thing, some few exceptions, after mine have done a certain amount of Labor which they finish by 4 or 5 P.M. I allow them to enjoy themselves in any reasonable way." The second Southerner says, "I think our Visitors will tell a different Story when they return to the North, the thoughts of this Union being dissolved is to [sic] dreadful a thing to be contemplated, but we must stand up for our rights let the consequence be as it may."

Plantation Values: The Defense of Slavery
Resource Type: Primary Source
Slavery as It Exists in America. Slavery as It Exists in England. Lithograph (1850). At left a gentleman asks a ragged figure, "Why my Dear Friend, how is it that you look so old? You know we were playmates when boys." The ragged man replies, "Ah! Farmer we operatives are ' fast men,' and generally die of old age at Forty." Behind them an emaciated mother exclaims, "Oh Dear! what wretched Slaves, this Factory Life makes me & my children." To their right a barefoot boy tells his compation, "I say Bill, I am going to run away from the Factory, and go to the Coal Mines where they have to work only 14 hours a Day instead of 17 as you do here." The other boy replies, "Oh! how I would like to have such a comfortable place." In the corner a forlorn man says, "Thank God my Factory Slavery will soon be over." At bottom is a portrait of "Thompson the English Anti-Slavery Agitator" and the quote "I am proud to boast that Slavery does not breathe in England."

Slave Life and Culture: Order and Discipline
Resource Type: Primary Source
Flogging the Negro. Public whipping of slaves in Lexington, Missouri, in 1856. Illustration from The Suppressed Book about Slavery! (1864), an abolitionist publication.

Slave Life and Culture: Slave Communities
Resource Type: Primary Source
Slave quarters at the Kingsley plantation on Fort George Island near Jacksonville, Florida. Photograph (c. 1870).

Resistance to Slavery: Running Away
Resource Type: Primary Source
A family of fugitive slaves is beset by dogs and patrollers. Illustration from The Suppressed book about Slavery! (1864).

Resistance to Slavery: Running Away
Resource Type: Primary Source
A typical broadside advertisement for a runaway slave, "Negro Boy Robert Porter, aged 19."

Plantation Values: The Paternalist Vision
Resource Type: Primary Source
America. Lithograph by Edward Williams Clay (1841). A highly idealized portrayal of the relationship between a slaveowning family and its slaves. The old slave in the foreground says, "God Bless you massa! you feed and clothe us. When we are sick you nurse us, and when too old to work, you provide for us!" The paternalist master vows, "These poor creatures are a sacred legacy from my ancestors and while a dollar is left me, nothing shall be spared to increase their comfort and happiness."


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