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Lecture 15

HIST 2110Y Lecture Notes - Lecture 15: Nat Turner, Hillbilly, Denmark Vesey

Course Code
HIST 2110Y
Jeremy Milloy

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HIST-2110Y January 22, 2014
Slavery and the Antebellum
“The negro slaves of the South are the happiest, and, in some sense, the freest
people in the world. The children and the aged and infirm work not at all, and yet have all
the comforts and necessaries of life provided for them. They enjoy liberty, because they
are oppressed neither by care nor labor. The women do little hard work, and are protected
from the despotism of their husbands by their masters. The negro men and stout boys
work, on the average, in good weather, not more than nine hours a day. The balance of
their time is spent in perfect abandon. Besides' they have their Sabbaths and holidays.
White men, with so much of license and liberty, would die of ennui; but negroes
luxuriate in corporeal and mental repose. With their faces upturned to the sun, they can
sleep at any hour; and quiet sleep is the greatest of human enjoyments. "Blessed be the
man who invented sleep." 'Tis happiness in itself--and results from contentment with the
present, and confident assurance of the future”
– George Fitzhugh
From “The Rules of Highland Plantation,” 1838
No Negro shall leave the place at any time without my permission.
No Negro shall be allowed to marry without my express permission.
The very security of the plantation requires that a general and uniform control
over the people of it should be exercised…
You must provide for him yourself and by that means create in him a habit of
perfect dependence on you
No rule that I have stated is more important than that relating to Negroes marrying
out of the plantation… It creates a feeling of independence, from being, of right,
out of the control of the masters for a time.
Never allow another man to talk to your Negroes, nothing more injurious.
Frederick Douglass
“He who has endured the cruel pangs of slavery is the man to advocate liberty.
“Those who profess to favor freedom, and yet deprecate agitation, are men who
want crops without plowing up the ground, they want rain without thunder and
lightning, they want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters.”
Last week, we saw how opposition to slavery, the abolitionist movement, became
increasingly radical and powerful in its opposition to the inhuman slave system, and the
violence used by some to try to defend slavery and crush the movement
Today, we are going to explore the society at the centre of these conflicts and
developments: the ANTEBELLUM SOUTH
In some ways the South changed – its cotton economy grew bigger and more
complex, economic power shifted from the upper to the Deep South
But it the most fundamental respect, it did not change – “The South grew, but it
did not develop”
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HIST-2110Y January 22, 2014
It remained an agricultural society built on slave labour, which provided great
wealth to some while guaranteed degradation, exploitation, and hardships for
As North and South diverged, and opposition and resistance to slavery mounted,
the planter elites of the South became more and more determined to protect the
“peculiar institution” and the way of life it provided them
This Week’s Topics
King Cotton
Southern Femininity
Ordinary White Southerners
The Slave Trade
Slave Endurance and Slave Resistance
The Gathering Storm
King Cotton
Painting of a planation – cotton being carried to the markets, which would then
most likely be shipped out
The development of the cotton gin made cotton production feasible across the
Deep South
The plantation economies of these states boomed, and the economies of the Upper
South became increasingly dependent on selling hundreds of thousands of slaves
further South
Profits and materials from KING COTTON also spurred wealth and greater
industrialization in the North
How important was slavery to the Southern, and wider US economy? By 1860,
the economic investment in slaves exceeded the total combined value of the US’s
factories, railroads, and banks – more money invested in slaves than all of the
1840-1860 there is an estimated 16,000 slaves moved
The South remained agrarian, dependent on the North for manufacturing,
shipping, and many services
Many Southerners disliked this dependent relationship
The South produced less than 10% of its goods in America
Far fewer of a landless white population in the South that could be put into
However, Southerners had little reason to industrialize, given the big profits, how
much money they had tied up in slaves, and their attachment to the “Southern way
of life”
This was a myth of virtuous, chivalrous, “cavaliers” living in refinement and
Quarter of the white population was slave owners, some only owned a few slaves
which they worked beside
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