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Slavery During the Antibellum Era - Essay Example

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George Fitzhugh made a thought-provoking observation relating to the issue of slavery. He “insisted that all labor, not merely black, had to be…
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Slavery During the Antibellum Era
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Essay, History and Political Science Topic: Slavery During the Antebellum Era
The issue of slavery during the Antebellum Era
Slavery was a burning issue during the Antebellum Era that impacted the economic, cultural and social lives of the people of America. George Fitzhugh made a thought-provoking observation relating to the issue of slavery. He “insisted that all labor, not merely black, had to be enslaved and that the world must become either all slave or all free. These views had become commonplace in the South by the 1850s, but his originality lay in the insight that slavery could survive only if the capitalist world markets were destroyed.” (George Fitzhugh) He opposed secession on economic grounds. He highlighted the agenda of the South to spread slavery to the rest of the nation. The standard of living of the Negro slaves of the South in real terms was good, according to him. Their family life was free from tensions and the aged and infirm were properly taken care of. Women could look forward to the protective umbrella of their masters against the highhandedness of their husbands. He made an interesting observation about the conditions of labor in the North. “We do not know whether free laborers ever sleep. They are fools to do so; for, whilst they sleep, the wily and watchful capitalist is devising means to ensnare and exploit them. The free laborer must work or starve. He is more of a slave than the Negro, because he works longer and harder for less allowance.”(George Fitzhugh)This line of thinking was his original contribution to the issue of slavery.
What issues were dividing the North and the South in terms of slavery?
Abraham Lincoln possessed the inherent capability to gauge the public opinion, one of the greatest traits of a successful politician. He had the good measure of the issues that divided the North and the South and personally he was not an abolitionist. He advocated that the nation cannot remain half-free and half-slave, on a permanent basis. Supreme Court Ruling, 1857 in the Dred Scott v. Sanford case sealed the fate of the black race. It read thus. “. . . [t]here are two clauses in the constitution which point directly and specifically to the negro race as a separate class of persons, and show clearly that they were not regarded as a portion of the people or citizens of the government then formed.” (Roger B. Taney)The struggle for abolition slavery turned more intense with the legal position clarified by the Court. The court opined that Negro race was a separate class of persons. Denied of legal protection for getting equal status the Negro leadership and society turned cynical and began to adopt violent alternatives to secure their rights.
What justifications were made for/against slavery?
Fitzhugh argued, “But our Southern slavery has become a benign and protective institution, and our Negroes are confessedly better off than any free laboring population in the world.” (George Fitzhugh)So, the Negroes in the South liked the system of slavery. But that was only one part of the issue. Basically no enlightened black liked slavery in any form. The confessions of Nat Turner were the example in point. Fifty-five whites were killed in the rebellion captained by him in the year 1831.Turner in his confession to his white lawyer, Thomas Gray stated, “The manner in which I learned to read and write, not only had great influence on my own mind…I would find many things that the fertility of my own imagination had depicted to me before…” (Nat Turner) He developed the type of confidence that made him the natural choice to lead and he was inspired by revelations in the scripture. He relied on spiritual weapon along with other weapons he used in the rebellion to liberate the slave labor from the bondage of the white masters.
What other events were leading the country to a division?
Antebellum period was the “pre-war” period. The Civil War ended the antebellum period. The sectional conflict took serious dimensions and came close to dividing the country between slave-labor and South dominated by agriculture and free labor of the industrialized North. Technological advancement during the antebellum period had a telling effect on the issues of slavery and racism. The national culture of America began to change for the better, in favor of the black people. Printing press and telegraph facilities revolutionized communications and kept the people up to date as for important developments taking place all over the country. Photography played its role in awakening the black people when evidence was tendered about whipped and abused slaves. Political participation by both the blacks and whites was on the ascendancy. Granting full constitutional rights to the blacks was the justified alternative to prevent division of the country.

Works Cited
(All these files are provided by the customer)
Fitzhugh, George. “The Blessings of Slavery" exp. Sociology for the South, or The Failure of
Free Society, A. Morris: Richmond, VA 1857.
Turner, Nat. "Confession of Nat Turner". Wit: Gray, Thomas. Virginia: 1831.
Lincoln, Abraham. "A House Divided". Speech, Illinois Senate Race: 1858
Taney, Roger B. "Dred Scott v. Sanford". Supreme Court Ruling, 1857. Read More
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