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#8: The Antebellum South .pdf

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Professor Candace Sobers

THE ANTEBELLUM SOUTH INTRODUCTION : W HERE IS THE “SOUTH ?” •Texas and Delaware are slave states, but they are not the “South” •Kentucky and Missouri are slave states, but don’t secede during the Civil War •The South is not homogenous -- has many shared assumptions •The Upper South -- Maryland, Virginia Deep South -- Georgia, Alabama, Carolinas • K ING C OTTON AND THE A GRARIAN IDEAL •Southern states all live by a cash crop economy -- different from the North Settlers in the South intended to create a cash crop economy • •Tobacco was the original cash crop •Other cash crops takeover, like rice •Hard to cultivate •Very grueling work •Susceptible to disease •Slaves were needed to harvest crops and manage the canals, etc •Sugar production begins in 1795 in Louisiana -- also very hard •Cash crop in many colonies at this time •Things don’t change that dramatically until cotton comes along when Eli Whitney invents the Cotton Gin •Used to pick off the sticks out of the cotton -- the cotton gin did this much more effectively •This makes cotton commercially viable -- this allows slavery to expand •1830s -- cottons fields reach Texas •1840s -- 60% of the country’s exports are cotton •This makes people really wealthy -- but also leads to economic stagnation •Lack of economic diversification allows the South to remain rural •In the North 30% of people live in cities, while 12% live in the cities in the South •1850 -- no southern city will be over populated •The cities that do exist are very different from the northern cities •South produces almost 100% of the county’s cotton, but manufactures less than 7% •To manufacture the cotton you need to export it Britain and France (even the North) -- to export out of the states makes them richer •Very little immigration in the South because there are no factories -- more homogenous ethnic group •Also immigrants realize they cannot compete with the slave culture •The Agrarian ideal -- the most noble occupation for a man was to have a farm •For many this becomes the only appropriate thing for a man to do •Fits in with the American idea of taming the wilderness -- physically and metaphorically •Leads to the idea of individualism and self-sufficiency -- you have your own farm, you only rely on your hands THE ANTEBELLUM SOUTH W HITE S OUTHERN S OCIETY Planation life dominates the South • •Need at least 20 slaves to be considered a planter •Some of the most wealthly and influential men derived from this stock •Less than 1% of white southern society were planters •An even smaller section of the planter elite -- own 50 or more slaves and more plantations •Socioeconomic disparity -- richest families earned as much as everyone else in the South •It is in the Southern constitution that society should be stratified With really large planation, the role of an overseer is opened -- allowing the owner to • do other leisure pursuits •The archetypal southern gentleman is very similar to an English gentleman •1850 -- planation society is at its apex •Making more money now then before •1812 -- the annual export of bales of cotton was 150,000 •By 1860 this has increased to 4 million bales! •The majority of white society is middle class -- yeomen farmers (own their own land) •Might have a few slaves and work alongside them If you are a yeomen farmer you adopt the values of the planter aristocracy -- they • would have considered themselves related to the elite •Below the yeoman class are poor whites or “crackers” •When the elites need more land they push the smaller farms out -- to areas that cannot sustain to grow anything •A fundamentally unequal society -- there is not much social mobility in the South •How do we get the idea of all the South seceding? C LASS •An absolutely huge part of Antebellum society •Planter aristocracy sets the tone -- all others aim to mirror him •The “Big House” is supposed to instill fear in the slaves and impress the neighbors •Children would be educated -- this is reserved for white children G ENDER •Is strictly and rigidly defined •Even more of an emphasis on the cult of domesticity on elite women •Gentile •Marry and marry well -- to maintain the property or allow it to grow •Marriage is permanent •Marriage is between social equals •To have as many children as possible Women are supposed to be submissive to patriotic figure • •The idea here is that elite women will be put on a pedestal •The idea of honor and chivalry •Deep moral code and a means of policing actions THE ANTEBELLUM SOUTH •Relationship between social violence and the maintenance of one’s honor -- it is okay to hit people on the head with canes •To hit someone with your cane meant that they were inferior to you -- if they were your equal you would have a dual •This will have political sentiments later -- some aspects of the Civil War are closely related to this INSTITUTIONALIZATION OF R ACISM R ACE AND R ELIGION •Radicalized -- defining categories •Racist -- hostile ideas toward other races •Religion is very important -- support slavery •2nd Great Awakening -- evangelicals believe that the Kingdom of God is imminent, if Christ is coming you better look busy •This was taken very seriously •The idea that America was chosen for a divine mission •Every individual has the capacity to become perfect -- no more predetermination •This is a very egalitarian idea -- everyone has got this within them •At this time entirely new dominations were created •Revivals were very popular -- social gathering with 10,000s of people •This area is known as the bible belt Many of these new religions sought to challenge slavery • •The 2nd Great Awakening endorses abolitionism •The South us
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