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Slavery in Antebellum America - White Plains Middle in... Slavery in Antebellum America I. The Rise of "King Cotton" A. Prior to 1793, the Southern economy was weak: depressed...

Jan 12, 2020




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    AP U.S. History: Unit 4.5

    Student Edition

    Slavery in Antebellum America

    I. The Rise of "King Cotton"

    A. Prior to 1793, the Southern economy was weak: depressed prices,

    unmarketable products, soil-ravaged lands, and an economically

    risky slave system.

     Some leaders, such as Jefferson (who freed 10% of his slaves), believed slavery would gradually die out but it could not be done

    immediately. "We have a wolf by the ears."

    B. Eli Whitney’s Cotton Gin (1793)

    1. Impact: Cotton production became profitable; 50x more effective

    than picking cotton by hand.

    a. Resulted in an explosion in slavery

    b. Cotton came to surpass tobacco, rice, and indigo production.

    2. A “Cotton Kingdom” developed into a huge agricultural factory.

    a. Western expansion into lower gulf states: Louisiana,

    Mississippi, Alabama

    b. Slaves were brought into new regions to cultivate cotton.

    3. A huge domestic slave trade emerged.

     Importation of slaves from Africa was abolished in 1808

    C. Trade

    1. Cotton exported to England; revenues from sale of cotton used to

    buy northern goods

     Britain heavily dependent on U.S. cotton for its textile factories; 80% came from U.S.

    2. Prosperity of both North and South rested on slave labor

    3. Cotton accounted for 57% of all American exports by 1860.

     The South produced 75% of the world’s cotton.

    II. The Three Souths

    A. Generalizations

    1. The further North, the cooler the climate, the fewer the slaves,

    and the lower the commitment to maintaining slavery..

    2. The further South, the warmer the climate, the more the slaves,

    and the higher the commitment to maintaining slavery.

    3. Mountain whites along Appalachian Mountains would mostly

    side with the Union during the Civil War.

     Lived in western Virginia, eastern Tennessee, northeastern Kentucky, western South Carolina, northern Georgia and


    Use space below for notes

  • APUSH Lecture Notes Page 2

    Unit 4.5: Slavery in Antebellum America

    © 2014 All Rights Reserved

    4. Southward flow of slaves (from sales) continued from 1790 to


    5. There was not a unified South except for a common trait of

    resistance to the perceived outside interference of the federal gov’t.

    B. Border South: Delaware, Maryland, Kentucky, & Missouri

    1. Plantations were more scarce; cotton cultivation was almost

    nonexistent; tobacco was the main crop (as in the Middle South);

    and more grain production existed (as in the Middle South).

    2. Unionists would overcome Disunionists during and after the Civil


    3. 1850, slaves = 17% of population.; avg. of 5 slaves per slaveholder

    4. 1850, over 21% of the Border South’s blacks were free; accounted

    for 46% of the South’s free blacks

    5. 22% of white families owned slaves.

    6. Comprised 6% of all southerners who owned more than 20 slaves

    in the South; comprised only 1% of the South’s ultra-wealthy

    7. Produced over 50% of the South’s industrial products

    C. Middle South: Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee, Arkansas

    1. Each state had one section resembling the Border South and

    another resembling the Lower South.

     Some industrial production: Tredegar Iron Works in Virginia used slave labor

    2. Unionists prevailed after Lincoln was elected; Disunionists

    prevailed after the war began.

    3. Many plantations existed in eastern Virginia and western Tennessee

    4. 1850, slaves = 30% of population; avg. of 8 slaves per slaveholder

    5. 36% of white families owned slaves.

    6. Comprised 32% of all who owned more than 20 slaves in South and

    14% of the ultra-wealthy

    D. Lower South: South Carolina, Florida, Georgia, Alabama,

    Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas

    1. Most slaves lived in the “cotton belt” or "black belt" of the

    Deep South along river valleys.

    2. Plantations were prevalent; cotton was king; accounted for 95% of

    the South’s cotton and almost all sugar, rice, and indigo.

    3. Disunionists (secessionists) would prevail after Lincoln was


    4. 1850, slaves = 47% of population; avg. of 12 slaves per slaveholder

    5. Less than 2% of blacks were free; only 15% of South’s free blacks

    6. 43% of white families owned slaves

    7. Of all who owned more than 20 slaves in South: 62%; Ultra-

    wealthy = 85%

  • APUSH Lecture Notes Page 3

    Unit 4.5: Slavery in Antebellum America

    © 2014 All Rights Reserved

    8. Produced less than 20% of South’s industrial products

    III. The "Peculiar Institution"

    A. The Planter "Aristocracy"

    1. The South was ruled politically and economically by wealthy

    plantation owners.

    a. In 1850, only 1,733 families owned more than 100 slaves yet

    they dominated southern politics.

    b. The South was the least democratic region of the country.

     A huge gap between rich and poor existed.

     Poor public education (planters sent kids to private schools) 2. Planters carried on the "cavalier" tradition of early Virginia.

    a. This was reflected in its military academies.

    b. Its elite culture included chivalry among a landed genteel-class.

    B. Plantation system

    1. Required heavy investment of capital in slave labor

    2. Risky: slaves might die of disease, injure themselves, or escape.

    3. One-crop economy (e.g. cotton, tobacco)

    a. Discouraged diversification of agriculture, especially


    b. Southerners resented the North’s huge profits at their expense.

     Complained of northern middlemen, bankers, agents, and shippers

     Resented being so dependent on northern manufactures and markets

    4. Repelled large-scale European immigration

    a. Only 4.4% of foreign-born Americans were part of the South’s

    population in 1860; 18.7% in the North.

    b. Slave labor was far cheaper; fertile land was too expensive for

    most immigrants; immigrants were not familiar with cotton


    c. The South was the nation’s most Anglo-Saxon (English) region.

    C. Plantation slavery

    1. Nearly 4 million slaves lived in the U.S. by 1860; quadrupled in

    number since 1800.

    a. Legal imports of slaves ended in 1808.

     Thousands of slaves were smuggled into the South despite the death penalty for slave traders.

    b. The increased population was due to natural reproduction.

     Over-breeding of slaves was not encouraged. o Owners often still rewarded slave women for multiple


     White slave owners often fathered a sizable mulatto

  • APUSH Lecture Notes Page 4

    Unit 4.5: Slavery in Antebellum America

    © 2014 All Rights Reserved

    population (e.g. Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemmings had

    six children together, four of whom survived)

    o Most remained as slaves. 2. Slaves were seen as valuable assets and a primary source of wealth.

    a. Slave auctions were one of the most revolting aspects of slavery.

     Families were often separated due to a plantation owner’s division of property or bankruptcy

     Slavery’s greatest psychological horror 3. Punishment was often brutal to intimidate slaves not to defy the

    master’s authority.

    4. New western areas were harshest for slaves: (LA, TX, MS, AL)

    5. Slaves were denied education: a literate slave was seen as a

    potentially dangerous slave.

    D. An Afro-American slave cu