GDG- NPS, Slavery and Economies

Andy Mills amills at
Thu Jan 5 14:18:01 CST 2012


A nice response.  

But are the slave owners fighting to keep their slaves, or keep their value in those slaves that are make them rich?

If the federal government decided as a result of the housing bubble to nationalize all private homes to avoid another bubble and people rebelled as a result:  would that rebellion be over houses or the fear of losing your investment in those houses?  There is a distinct difference between the two as one is over the right to own an object and the other is over money and investments and what is perceived to be an invasion of the government to prevent you from making a living by a system that has been around and ingrained in your culture for centuries.  

Please:  before anyone says it, I understand one is comparing an inanimate object to a human being but fortunately, we have no modern example to use.  


-----Original Message-----
From: gettysburg-bounces at [mailto:gettysburg-bounces at] On Behalf Of Jack Lawrence
Sent: Thursday, January 05, 2012 2:13 PM
Subject: Re: GDG- NPS, Slavery and Economies

Esteemed GDG Member Contributes:
There is, as you point out, a lot more going on here.

The wealth generated by slavery was not only in the cotton, rice etc that they produced.
It was also in the slaves themselves. A strong field hand was worth a thousand dollars in 1850's-60's dollars.
So a man with a thousand slaves had a hundreds of thousands of dollars dollars in wealth out in the fields, no matter how well his crops fared. He could also hire those slaves out, or let a skilled slave, like a carpenter, take on work in town and pay (more likely split) what he earned. He could even hire out the women.

The south understood that the influx of northern immigrants was producing a body politic that wanted no part of slavery. Even so, the north was willing to tolerate it, to preserve the union. So was Lincoln. In that regard, he was a manifestation of the body politic in it's purest form. What would not be tolerated was the southern demand to allow slavery in territories prior to their admission into the union (bleeding Kansas was all about whether Kansas would be free or slave at admission.)  The Supreme Court was responsible for this when it overturned The Missouri Compromise, which required one slave state be admitted for every free state admitted So the south tried to circumvent this by allowing slavery in the territories prior to admission. Trying to abolish slavery in a state that already had slaves would be difficult to say the least.

Now, the reason the south wanted the territories to be open to slavery was purely economic. More slave territory meant that more slaves were needed. 
Which meant that if a man owned a thousand slaves worth a hundreds of thousand of dollars, they were worth hundreds of thousands of dollars more.

Succinctly stated, slavery as practiced in the United States at that place and time was a giant bubble. It was not slavery that was going to go away. 
It was the wealth of the slaves that was going to diminish.

Your second paragraph, that the matter of slavery in the Civil War is over 
determined is simply incorrect. The only thing going on here is slavery.
It is true that there was a racial undertone, but it was a created racial 
undertone. Throughout history, for the most part, slavery had been pretty 
much an economic institution.
In the south, people were taught that Africans were an inferior people, 
somewhere between animals and people. They were too simple to function 
freely. Even the slaves were educated in their dependence on white people. 
Traveling minstrel shows toured the south. They always included three main 
characters, Jim Crow, the typical hard working, carefree negro who prospered 
when he did his masters bidding, Tambo, the joyous musical negro, and Zip 
Coon, the sly negro who was always getting Jim in trouble (think King Fish 
Amos and Andy and ). Just another way to keep blacks in their place.

Indoctrination was prevalent among white people too.

Preachers preached it on Sunday (There was even a "Christian Way" to treat 
your slaves dogma), politician orated over the dangers of free negroes and 
civic leaders did the same.
The message was always the need that slaves had for white masters. But the 
really chilling, insidious, vile message, the one that chilled the populace 
and absolutely convinced them that they need to keep these people enslaved 
was that black slaves craved after, lusted for and, left unfettered, would 
unleash a depravity on white females unseen since the rape of the Sabine 
women. Can you imagine preaching this on Sunday?
Which, IMHO, accounted for the fierce devotion to the south among southern 
women during the war. (Ok, Butler didn't help much).

So, at the end of the day, there was no other cause for the war but slavery, 
but slavery itself was a many faceted thing.

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