Slavery And The Slave Market

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The slave market was engrained in all aspects of the antebellum South ranging from fields to the farms, auctioneer blocks, and white households. It even influenced common consciences about how slave owners should feel about their slaves and the rhetoric they used when talking about slavery in general. Slave owners began to take on a paternalistic ideology in that they began to see watching over slaves and their buying and selling as a benefit to slaves that could not take care of themselves. The slave market therefore influenced slave owners self-perception, causing them to internalize their cultural surroundings. It also played into ideas of chivalry, gentility, patriarchy, and honor: concepts were endangered of alteration with each sale of a slave on the market. Directly as a result of this, slave bodies became a site for cultural understanding as buyers and sellers social values began to be created and learned based on slave sales, advertising the sale of slaves, and the overall commodification of life caused by slavery.
The rhetoric and culture that slaveholders used and were a part allowed the overdependence upon slaves to be downplayed. Slaveholders went as far as tying rhetoric and a social coding of sorts to the idea of freedom itself depending on slavery. All of this meant that day-to-day life itself “banked on” the black slave body. Much of the identities of white slave owners were developed through their relationships with slaves and how they interacted with other slave owners. Some even convinced themselves that buying slaves was justified because they were “rescuing” them from the terrors of the market. In many ways, white men entered into full Southern society membership through the buying of slaves that could car...

... middle of paper ... labor, but rather a society that no longer knew another way of life. The balance of power was beginning to shift as the antebellum South’s dependence on free labor economically tied their existence to the heinous practice of owning slaves. Slavery was in many ways a dream come true for southern culture in its ability to relieve the issue of finding labor and keeping costs low, but this inhumane practice became the downfall of the antebellum South in how its practice became so common in its culture that it became more of an economic addiction. Their entire economy was seemingly tied to this need for free labor under the impression that slavery was there to stay, shamefully allowing the gruesome, inhumane, nature of slavery to transcend societal values to the point of widespread acceptance. This accepting culture marked the downfall of the antebellum South.
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