Cotton, Slavery and the Old South

The Cotton Economy:
King Cotton
Phrase used by politicians and whites to describe the importance of the cotton in the south Boom of cotton production began in 1820s

The dominance and importance of the cotton in the south transformed it economy, the production continued westward (south) the demand expanded in the north as their “cultures” developed in different direction

Deep South
The southernmost region of the US where cotton production dominated Mid –early 1800s, increasing through 1850s

The prospects of the deep south and the profit of cotton drew thousands of white settlers to the south to build plantations and move into the planter class, which increased the region’s population and expanded US territory in the west

De Bow’s Review
A magazine that advocated southern commercial an agricultural expansion Founded in 1846 lasting until 1880 The publisher, De Bow, made the magazine an advocated for southern economic independence from the North, despite it was also evidence of the South’s dependency on the North

Colonial Dependency
The reality that the rise of cotton in the South increased their dependency upon Northern industry and commerce, caused by: the regions profitability of cotton, the investments in slaves and land left little other investments, climate, and southern way of life Strengthened with the growing cotton production in the 1800s The cultures of the North and south diverged, but the dependency upon one another did not.

Proving to conflict when sectionalism tried to push them

White Society in the South
Cavalier Myth
The belief that white southerners were free form the acquisitive instincts of the “Yankees”, more concerned with the refined and gracious way of life and with rapid growth and development (mid 1800s) The myth conformed to the reality of southern society, in a limited way, dividing them from the north

Planter Aristocracy
The wealthy, white, plantation owners who cultivated 800+ acres with 40-50 slaves and exercised their power beyond their numbers in relation to society

Southerner “Honor”
The idea that individuals had to defend their honor, adopting a specific code of chivalry to protect dignity, social station and manhood, a challenge to that would come to a duel

The Genteel Southern Lady
Hidden behind their dominating husband in southern honor, the southern lady’s life was centered at the home, serving as a hostess and nurturer, rarely engaging in public activities or find employment

Plain Folk
Typical southerner who was a yeoman farmer who owned almost no slabs and devoted themselves to subsistence farming

Poor Whites-hill people (Piedmont)

Patriarchal/paternal society

A society through which men “rule” the family and ancestry is traced through males, and in the south small farmers, even more than planters we committed to this family structure Southern society saw men as the masters of homes and woman and children were work force under his control

Slavery: the “Peculiar Institution”
Slave Codes-significance-the legal basis of slavery

The laws that established that slaves could not own property, leave plantation without permission, be out after dark, congregate with other slaves (except church), possess firearms, or strike a white person, etc.

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(existed when slavery began in the US –developed more as the southern) The slave codes were the legal basis of slavery & they defend race to be anyone with even a trace of African Ancestry to be black, but the codes often different from the reality on plantation House v. Field Slaves

House slaves lived close to the master and his family, serving them at the house and developing almost familial relationships, while field slaves had a more physically exhausting job doing work in fields These two types of slaves helped develop the ways of the southern society, which was drastically altered after the emancipation after the civil war Why high slave mortality rate?

The slower increase of the black population was a result of it comparatively high death rate; slave mothers had large families, but the enforced poverty in which virtually all African Americans lived ensured that fewer of their children of white parents

Urban Slavery-slavery in the cities
Urban slaves had a smaller “market of work” which consisted of mining/lumbering, dock work, driving wagons and such and unlike rural, could not be supervised as closely and profitably, thus they gained more
opportunities to mingles with free blacks and whites

Free African Americans
African Americans who were free from slavery, they were usually blacks or former slaves who: bought freedom, were set free from master for moral reasons or at their death (rare) common of the north, urban regions

Domestic v. foreign slave trade
Domestic: the transfer of slaves from one part of the southern to another, often through traders who transported slaves over a long distances to markets where owners bid on them Foreign: federal law prohibited the importation of slaves since 1808, but some were smuggled in Importation of slaves legally “stopped” in 1898 but the domestic and foreign continued throughout the 1800s “SAMBO” Stereotype

A behavioral charade in which they shuffled grinned and head scratched, acting out the role he/she perceived that white society expected of them; this shaped their views toward slavery while truly the slavers were just putting on a show

Gabriel Prosser
A slave who gathered 1000 other rebellious slaves outside Richmond to revolt, only the plan was given away and Prosser and 35 others were prosecuted-One of a few rare slaves revolts which was the second way slaves expressed their response to slavery

Denmark Vesey
Free black of Charleston who, with his followers (all 9,000) made preparations for a revolt, but word leaked and they were suppressed (1822)-this was another failed attempt at a revolt against slavery

Nat Turners Revolt
A slave preacher who lead a group of African Americans, armed with guns and axes, through Southampton Country, Virginia killing sixty white men and children, door to door before their war overpowered by troops (1831)-Turner’s revolt was the only large-scale slave uprising in the 19c, but the southerners fear of renewed violence continued as long as slavery lasted Slow Motion Work-as a form of resistance

Often took less drastic forms than revolt, like running away (underground railroads) defying masters, stealing from masters or neighbors, loosing or breaking tools, preforming improperly and refusing to work all to protest or resist slavery Typically blacks resisted by adding subtle methods of rebellion into their behavior, which slowly became out of hand as the North began to support their actions and the south felt differently, sectional divide Pidgin

It retained some African words but it drew primarily, if selectively from English. & while slave language grew more sophisticated as blacks spent in America-and as new generations grew up never having known African Tongues-some features of this early pidgin survived in black speeches for many generations

Slave Polytheistic Religions
Blacks developed their own version of Christianity, at time incorporating voodoo or other polytheistic religious traditions of Africa. African-American religion was more emotional and joyful.

Slave Nuclear Family
Crucial institution of black culture. It suffered legal restrictions, most notably lack of legal marriage. Black women began bearing children at younger ages. Slave communities did not condemn premarital pregnancy the way white society did, and black couples often lived together before marrying. Husbands and wives living on separate plantations often had to visit at night in secret. If a slave was moved to a different plantation, often they were adopted into a family in their new community.

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Cotton, Slavery and the Old South. (2016, Apr 19). Retrieved from

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