Before the late 18th century, slavery was expected to become unprofitable and demise quickly. Many slave owners, including Thomas Jefferson, were even speaking openly of freeing their slaves. Either way, slavery was seen as a dying trend. By 1793, however, all of those predictions were shattered. Eli Whitney’s invention of the cotton gin had changed everything, deeply affecting the economic, political, and social lives of the American people. Economically, affects of slavery are obvious. Because of the cotton gin, cotton became the southern states’ main export (seen in document G)…and slaves were much cheaper than paying wages for work in the cotton field. Therefore, slaves were imported into America by the thousands, and plantation owners raked in the cash. As the cotton industry grew, so did the amount of slaves. Cotton, as well as slavery, accounted for half of all the American exports by 1840….making slavery a habit almost impossible to break.
Even with the sure promise that slavery would keep America economically stable, there was still a large political controversy on the justifiable means of slavery. Groups such as the American Anti-slavery society spoke up and claimed that enslavement was neither constitution nor Christian (Seen in document H). Some anti-slavery advocates settled for eventual emancipation of slaves, but others demanded immediate abolition. David Walker (as seen in his appeal in document A) was one for immediate abolition, favoring a violent approach to the slavery issue. Other opinions, however, disagreed with Walker’s approach. Franklin Pierce stated that a violent revolution would only end in disaster (document d).
Slavery-supporters in high places crushed many hopes of any anti-slavery campaigns with things such as the Fugitive slave act (document e) and the Dred Scott case (document c), where it was made clear that any blacks, free or enslaved, were never to be admitted as citizens of the United States. Additionally, and runaway slaves were to be brought back to their owners regardless of the situation. Anti-Slavery advocates had their hands tied. Many factors of slavery affected the United States socially. Blacks were at the bottom of the social classes, free or enslaved. Blacks were thought of as mongrels, and racism was very popular.
Slavery was even justified by the degradation blacks and claims of their incapability of being civil. Rebellions were seen by pro-slavery whites as examples of why slavery should exist (document B). However, not all blacks in the U.S were slaves. Even for a free black, though, the right to claim citizenship in the U.S wasn’t permitted. Black people’s job opportunities were incredibly limited compared to a whites’ opportunities, and in many places blacks were not welcome.
Some free blacks were even abducted and sold back into slavery (document F). Many things were affected by slavery in the U.S. Blacks were rock bottom as far as social classes, and slavery made the south the almighty “Cotton Kingdom”. What was mainly affected, however, were the political lives of the American people. Moral instincts kicked in as the controversy of enslavement vs. freedom dragged on for many unpleasant decades.