29 Nov.-4 Dec. 2001
The Expansion of Slavery and the
Intensification of Southern Cultural Identity
Westward Expansion and the Cotton Boom
(amplifying points made in video)
A. Spread of
planters, cotton, and slavery into new southern states, creating internal
slave trade and economically reinvigorating slavery.
of the national economy around cotton: Hemp in the upper south and textiles
in New England.
Clips: "Africans in America"
to watch for:
international slave trade (1808), growth of internal slave trade
& African Methodist Episcopal Church
varieties of and changes in
David Walker and
Elijah P. Lovejoy
of citizenship in North
Slavery and Southern Cultural Identity
Slavery, the peculiarly paranoid institution: Fear of rebellious slaves as
underlying factor in history of Old South.
1. Planters could
not forget that slaves did not want to be slaves and would escape or
resist if they could.
2. The "wolf
by the ears": The racist, fear-based abolitionism of Thomas Jefferson
& other white southerners.
tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just: that his justice
cannot sleep for ever: that considering numbers, nature and natural
means only, a revolution of the wheel of fortune, an exchange of
situation, is among possible events: that it may become probable by
supernatural interference! The Almighty has no attribute which can take
side with us [the whites] in such a contest."
3. Necessity of
violence and coercion to keep slaves in bondage, contradicting many other
southern values: whipping, slave patrols.
B. Slavery's Impact
on Southern Culture
1. Slavery had
always made South distinct from other regions, but there had been hope
that differences might fade.
2. Impact of
slavery on southern whites: Slavery turned many slaveholders into depraved
tyrants and taught their children to be same.
3. Result: A
violent, patriarchal culture, where white men lived by code of
"honor" & physically punished rivals, critics, challengers
to their power.
C. Cotton and the
Intensification of Southern Cultural Differences
1. Problem: Need
to find some justification for expanding slavery in face of egalitarian
American values and outside criticism.
2. Growth of
plantersí self-image as feudal lords or British-style aristocrats; yet
more lavish estates and lifestyles; "Cavalier" myth; interest in
Middle Ages, novels of Sir Walter Scott & ideas of
"chivalry"; growth of duelling & other aspects of
3. Rise of the
proslavery argument and planter paternalism: Plantation slavery seen as a better
system than northern individualism & capitalism. Chattel slavery as
more humane than "wage slavery."
intolerance of dissent against slavery in South or North,
especially after the Virginia slavery debate.
III. Van Burenís
Slavery and the Demands of Party
defense/expansion of slavery strained party system: northern politicians
forced to prove their loyalty to slavery.
B. The War against
1. Origins: Van
Buren was Jackson's heir apparent but under pressure from southern
Democrats to prove that he was not soft on abolitionism.
anti-abolitionist "mobs" attacked newspapers and meetings all
3. The attack on
the Charleston post office and Postmaster General Kendallís decision to
allow non-delivery of abolitionist direct mail.
congressional "gag rule," 1837-1844: automatic tabling of
abolitionist petitions to Congress.
C. Van Buren
as Proslavery President
1. Election of
1836: South partly deserted Van Buren but he won anyway.
pressure became even harder to resist after Panic of 1837 made MVB very
Seminole War (1835-42): brutal campaign to make Florida safe for slavery.
case (1839): Administration sided against Africans who had taken over an
illegal Spanish slaving ship & then been tricked into sailing to