The Pre-Civil War South

  • Length: 1269 words (3.6 double-spaced pages)
  • Rating: Excellent
Open Document

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Text Preview

More ↓

Continue reading...

Open Document

the pre-Civil War era, only about 5 percent of white Southern women actually lived on plantations and about half the Southern households owned no slaves at all. Still, slavery defined everything about life in the South, including the status of white women. Southern culture orbited around the strong father figure, simultaneously ruling and caring for his dependents - Mary Hamilton Campbell was struck when her servant Eliza refererred to Campbell's husband as "our master". Black and white women never seemed to develop any sense of common cause, but every Southern female from the plantation wife to the field slave was assinged a role that involved powerlessness and the need of a white man's constant guidance. A Southern slave owner named George Balcombe advised a friend to "Let women and Negroes alone. Leave them in their humility, their grateful affection, ther self-renouncing loyalty, their subordination of the heart, and let it be your study to become worthy to be the object of their sentiments."

Southerners compared themselves to the ancient Romans, another proud race of slave owners. Dipping back two millennia, they gave their slaves names like Cato and Cicero and celebrated a culture in which families were strong, men were in charge, and slaves did the physical labour. women were expected to follow the lead of the Roman matron, who presided over the hearth, took care of the children, and entertained her husband's guests. poor women, of course, did not get to stay home. They worked as seamstresses and washerwomen, often to support a family in which the man had run away or failed in his duties as a breadwinner. Slave women were expected to labour with their men in the fields. But plantation wives, who set the tone for Southern culture, despite their small numbers, did not do physical housework. Their letters, which are full of reports about gardening, smoking of meat, cooking, and sewing, actually referred to work done slaves, which the white mistress supervised.

The overwhelming impression of the lives of most plantation wives is of isolation. When Anne Nichols moved to her husband's Virginia estate, she wrote that she was "absolutely as far removed frome very if I was in a solitary tomb." Houses were far apart, and Southern mores prohibited ladies from travelling alone, or even with another woman. "It is quite out of our power to trvel any distance this summer as we have no gentlemen to go with us" wrote a stranded plnatation mistress.

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

How to Cite this Page

MLA Citation:
"The Pre-Civil War South." 20 May 2018
Title Length Color Rating  
Essay about Causes of The American Civil War - "War is the unfolding of miscalculations." - Barbara Tuchman Lasting from 1861 to 1865, the Civil War is considered the bloodiest war in American history. However, the Civil War had seemingly been a long time coming. There were many events that took place within the fifteen years leading up to the Civil War that foreshadowed the eventual secession of seven “cotton states” from the Union. The end of the Mexican-American War in 1848, the publication of Uncle Tom’s Cabin in 1852, the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854, the Dred Scott Decision of 1857, John Brown’s raid on Harper’s Ferry in 1859, and the outcome of the Presidential Election of 1860 all helped contribute to southern secession and the s...   [tags: American Civil War] 2128 words
(6.1 pages)
Powerful Essays [preview]
Essay on The Civil War - The Civil War occurred because of several reason, one being slavery and another was maintaing the Union. Slavery played a big part in the Civil War because of the fact that it did cause an abundance of conflict between the North and the South. The Union War mainly focuses on the United States citizen in the free and four slaves states who were against secession and supported the Civil War to maintain the Union. The Union represented “Cherished legacy of the founding generation” (GWG). It was also a place where people could start all over and better them selves economically....   [tags: slavery, army, union] 519 words
(1.5 pages)
Good Essays [preview]
Pre-Civil War Slavery: Early to Mid-1800s Essay - INTRODUCTION In an idealistic democratic America, one likes to think that everyone is free and everyone is equal. However, this is not the complete truth; we still battle injustice and work to treat everyone fairly every single day. But what is the truth is that we have come a long way and that we have improved over time. Slavery before the Civil War is important in U.S. history because not only was it involved in various significant events; it also shows us how far our society has come. SLAVERY’S SIGNIFICANCE In the United States, slavery is said to have started in 1619, when slaves were brought to Jamestown, Virginia to aid in the production of lucrative crops such as tobacco (“Slavery...   [tags: African-American history]
:: 11 Works Cited
1997 words
(5.7 pages)
Term Papers [preview]
Essay about The Economics of The Civil War - Economics of the Civil War: What economic advantage was provided with the completion of the railroad. TABLE OF CONTENTS Plan the Investigation 3 Summary of Evidence 3 Evaluation of Sources 5 Analysis 6 Conclusion 8 List of Sources 9 PLAN THE INVESTIGATION Question: What economic advantage was provided with the completion...   [tags: railroad, union, confederacy]
:: 10 Works Cited
1734 words
(5 pages)
Powerful Essays [preview]
The American Civil War Essay - ... Although both sides had conflicting perspectives and values, they did not engage in a Civil until they evaluated the relative costs and benefits of violence. It is important to understand the differences in perspectives, values, and relative analysis of costs and benefits that shaped the social, political, and economic transactions during the Civil War because this era created a nation that values freedom. A perspective is a specific way of viewing things depending on one’s beliefs, character, and associations....   [tags: north, south, slave, liberation] 700 words
(2 pages)
Strong Essays [preview]
Essay on The American Civil War - The American Civil War The American Civil War had made a major impact on the course of the nation's history. Slavery was a major factor in Southern and Northern USA's economy — the South had used slaves in cotton plantations, and the North relied on the South to provide cotton for them to manufacture and trade. However, in the Pre-Civil War era, people had started to gain a sense of morality to stop slavery. The Northerners believed in abolition, but the South had relied on slavery in order to grow....   [tags: United States history]
:: 5 Works Cited
2268 words
(6.5 pages)
Term Papers [preview]
Southern Slavery and the American Civil War Essay - On September 17, 2011 thousands of protesters filled Zuccotti Park in front of Wall Street in New York City. Armed with peaceful protests and picket signs these protesters demanded change in the American system of equality. They fought for the cause they believe in: no one should be excessively wealthier than another person, and every American should have equal economic opportunity. This movement spread throughout the country with people captivated by the exuberance that fills these protests. This same passion that continues to fill these protesters once filled every American....   [tags: History, War]
:: 10 Works Cited
1675 words
(4.8 pages)
Powerful Essays [preview]
Essay about Reconstruction Following the American Civil War - Reconstruction refers to the time period from 1865 to 1877 following the American Civil War that aimed to reinstate the former Confederate states into the Union, rebuild the South, and to assist the newly freed blacks in their transition from slavery to the freedom of American citizenship. Reconstruction was a difficult time for America that sparked many questions, such as how the Confederacy would be reinstated into the Union, would the President or Congress control the readmission, what would happen to the freedmen, etc....   [tags: rebuilding the South, from slavery to freedom] 1429 words
(4.1 pages)
Powerful Essays [preview]
Race and Political Power in the Pre-Civil War Period Essay - Race and Political Power in the Pre-Civil War Period How did race translate itself into political power during this period, and how did Blacks attempt to combat that power. Racism has been the most provocative topic in American history; it has seemed to transcend other struggles, and fester its way into almost every facet of American culture. It has grown like weeds in an unattended garden in to the ideology of America. Politicians use it as a tool for reelection, corporations use it as a way to exploit, and the media uses it as a way to control....   [tags: Essays on Politics] 1926 words
(5.5 pages)
Powerful Essays [preview]
Civil War Reconstruction Essay examples - The period of Reconstruction began immediately after the Civil War and ended in 1877. This era is known for the advancements made in favor of racial equality. These improvements included the fourteenth amendment, "this law guaranteed that federal and state laws would apply equally and unequivocally to both African Americans and whites" (, and the fifteenth amendment, which granted freedmen to vote. With the end of Reconstruction in 1877, the Republican Party lost control of the southern governments and the Democratic Party took over....   [tags: American History] 1310 words
(3.7 pages)
Strong Essays [preview]

Related Searches

Considering how fragile women were presumed to be, planters left them alone on remote farms among hundreds of slaves with stunning impunity. "I presume you have planted all the crop. I have only to add that I wish you good luck and good speed" wrote one husband in 1790. John Steele, who had been away in Washington for a year while his wife ran the plantation, responded to her complaints by writing "I know you will live disagreeably, the Negroes will be disobedient, the overseer drunk and foolish, but I must rely on your good management." These casual demands were sometimes interspersed with reminders about the importance of maintaining the standards of Southern femininity, which the wives must have found maddening. "I would willingly follow your adivce and not go in the sun if I could avoid it, but there is many things to do about a place that you men don't think of" wrote a Louisiana woman to the husband who had left her in charge. The husbands' absences were not always compulsory. Southern men went to spas to "take the waters" about five times more frequently than women.

By the mid nineteenth century there were nearly 4 million slaves in the souther states. The vast majority, including about 80 percent of the women, worked in the fields, plowing, hoeing, planting and poicking crops, They worked up to fourteen hours a day, and perhaps sixteen hours at harvest time. The women did the same jobs as them men, using heavy iron tools to hoe and in some cases steering the bulky wooden plows, controlling the mules or oxen that pulled them. The elderly, children, and pregnant women were put in "trash gangs" tht did weeding and cleaning chores.

Slave owners expected women to do three-quarters of the field work a man could do, but some did much more. But even though both sexes worked in the fields, the men did not share much in the family housework. "The women plowed just like the men" remembered former slave Henry Baker. "On Wednesday night they had to wash and after they washed they had to cook supper. The next morning they would get up with themen and they had to cook breakfast before they went to the field and had to cook the noon meal at the same time and take it with them." Men hunted for game and tilled the family garden, but even small boys were gnerally excused from cooking, cleaning, or washing chores.

In addition to the fieldwork, many planters required women to do a quota of spinning or weaving before they went to bed. they worked as a group, with the children helping to card the wool. Bob Ellis, whose mother was head spinner on a Virginia plantation, said that as the other slaves worked, she walked around checking progress, singing "Keep your eyes on the sun, See how she run, don't let her catch you with your work undone". The point, Ellis said, was to make the women finish before dark because it was "mighty hard handling that cotton thread by firelight." Fannie Moore hled the light for her mother to see while she made quilts. Sometimes, she said, her mother sewed through the night. "I never see how my mammy stand such hard work."

During her working life, a female slave spent much of her time pregnant, and most owners put a high value on good "breeders" The Plantation manula advised readers to encourage reproduction by giving every woman "with six children alive" all their Saturdays off. Major Wallon, a plantation owner, offered every new mother a calico dress and a silver dollar. More important than the presents to many young women was the fact that if they became pregnant, they were much less likely to be sold away from their husbands and relatives.

Plantation slaves typically lived in one-room cabins. Some were substantial, with plank floors raised well above the ground and solid chimneys. but many were as small as ten feet square, with dirt floors and no windows. Slaves often had plots of land where they gardened, although the work had to be done as one recalled "on moonlight night and on a Sautrday evening".

half the Southern slaves worked for small farmers, who lived in houses only slightly more impressive than the slave cabins on large plantations. white women on small Southern farms worked exceedingly hard, and when a farmer became prosperous enough to acquire a slave, his first purchase was often a woman to help his wife. "That sure was hard living there" recalled Mary Lindsey, who was the only slave of a poor blacksmith "I have to get up at three o'clock somtimes so I have time to water the horses and slop the hogs and feed the chikcens and milk the cows and then get back to the house and get the breakfast." A former slave in Nashville whose master hired her out to a working-class family said that she was required "to nurse, cook, chop in the fields, chp wood, bring water, wash, iron, and in general just do everything." She was six years old at the time.

Return to