Slavery is The South Essay

Slavery played a dominating and critical role in much of Southern life. In the

struggle for control in America, slavery was the South’s stronghold and the hidden motive

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behind many political actions and economic statistics. By dominating Southern life, slavery

also dominated the economic and political aspects of life in the South from 1840 to 1860.By the 1840’s and 50’s the Southern economy had almost completely become

slave and cash crop agriculture based. Without slaves in the south a person was left either

landless and penniless or struggling to get by on a small farm.

However, even though

slaves dominated the southern economy, slaveholders only included about 2 to 3 percent

of the population. This small percentage was the amount of people successful in a slave

based, cash crop agricultural, Southern economy. Therefore, the Southern economy was

controlled and dominated by those who did and did not have slaves. Furthermore, with the

high demand for Southern items in Europe and Northern America more slaves were

needed in the South to produce these cash crops.

Without slaves there would be no

cotton, tobacco, or sugar production and without these integral items the Southern

economy would absolutely fail. The South depended on slaves to fuel their economy and

therefore slavery dominated their economy.

Between 1840 and 1860 many political issues, debates, and actions were inflamed

by slavery. As America grew, the South wanted more slave states and the North wanted

more free states to increase their hold in politics. One important act that fueled the slavery

dominated political world of 1840 to 1860 was the Kansas and Nebraska act written by

Stephen Douglas. This act repealed the Missouri Compromise of 1820 and called for

popular sovereignty in Kansas and Nebraska which under the Missouri Compromise had

been free. The Missouri Compromise was originally an act to settle disputes about free

states and slave states entering the Union. To repeal this was to almost beg for revolution;

hence “Bleeding Kansas” which included the John Brown riots and caused political

uproar. The Kansas and Nebraska act was a disruptive and shortsighted solution to a

complicated and commanding political issue. The Compromise of 1850 was another weak

solution to the dominating problem of run-away slaves and the issue of slavery in new

territories. This Compromise created stronger fugitive slave laws which satisfied Southern

slave catchers and enraged Northern abolitionists. The compromise also made California a

free state, the Mexican Cession subject to popular sovereignty, and dictated that there

would be no slave trade in Washington D.C., but it would remain a slave state. All of these

things under the Compromise and the reaction they caused led to slavery becoming an

even more dominating issue in 1850 America. Another significant political issue was the

Dred Scott decision. Dred Scott was a slave who had been taken into a free territory by

his owner. A “Free-Soiler” then convinced Scott to sue his master for his freedom. In

1857, Supreme Court Justice Robert Taney declared that Dred Scott was property and not

a citizen, and property can not sue. Taney went even further in his decision to declare the

Missouri Compromise unconstitutional and rule slavery could not be forbidden anywhere.Many Northerners, Abolitionists, and “Free-Soilers” were infuriated by this decision. From

1820 to 1860 slavery was a “hot topic” in Congress and the House of Representatives. In

a way, it even caused the Civil War and in the end was perceived as the main reason for

fighting it. All political issues during this time could not be discussed without the topic of

slavery behind it. Slavery dominated all political issues.A Georgia editor in 1860 commented; “Negro Slavery is the South, and the South

is Negro Slavery”, an absolutely true statement. Slavery lead and dominated the South’s

economy and political actions. Nothing was ever handled in the South without slavery

being a part of it. Through good times and bad, slavery was the “dominating reality of all

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