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Slavery was like an addiction that the south could not break. Although it provided economic benefits to both the north and the south, the addiction or “curse” bound the people to the downfalls of slavery as well. Slavery created an oligarchy of which a small aristocracy of slave-owners would dominate political, economic, and social affairs of both blacks and whites. The institutions negative impact on the South, and even the entire nation would eventually lead to a great tragedy: the civil war. Although the institution of slavery oppressed enslaved individuals, the effects were felt beyond the large slave population. Often, “the whites of the [southern] region were also touched by an institution [slavery] which was central to their way of life” (189). In the early 1800’s, the largest class in the south was yeoman farmers, small-scale, non-slaveholding farmers who, eighty percent of the time, owned their own land (189). Although numerically the yeoman farmers were superior, the balance of power was slanted utterly towards the small slave-holding class. According to Degler, “… the small class of slaveowners actually dominated the economic, political, and intellectual institutions of the whole white South” (189-190). Even in the matter of land distribution, most of the fertile and nutrient-rich land was used to support plantations built by the wealthy slaveowners. In 1860, 92 percent of Georgian slaveholders held land, while only 55 percent of non-slaveholders could be so fortunate to have an acre (190). In the capitalistic economy of the ante-bellum period, “to rise in… one needed slaves…” (190-191). Even in industry the institution of slavery also affected the status of factory workers. At the time, working conditions were e... ... middle of paper ... ...n national unity and the great documents of the United States, such as the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. The Southerners and the Republicans also had different beliefs in the interpretation of the Declaration of Independence. The Southerners viewed the Declaration of Independence as “glittering generalities”, stating that Negros did count. However, the Republicans argued that the line “all men are created equal” should be “nearly reached” (201). American blood would have to be spilled in order for slavery to come to an end. In 1861, the south would succeed from the Union. The Northern Republicans, strong supporters of both national unity and the Constitution would fight to bring them back on their own terms. In the words of Carl N. Degler, “without the issue of slavery to divide the two sections, there would have been no Civil War” (203).
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