The Rise Of Slavery During The Early 1800s Essay

The Rise Of Slavery During The Early 1800s Essay

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As America developed further, larger tracts of land, which would eventually become huge plantations, demanded large amounts of manual labor to work the land and turn a profit. The cheapest labor would therefore be the most attractive option for these large farms, and slavery was seen as a fitting method to acquire free labor by many. During this time, the Christian church was especially powerful and not questioned by many common people. Therefore, the support given to slavery from Christianity was a major reason that American citizens felt slavery was a necessary part of being a good Christian, not only would slave owners be getting free labor, but they would be saving a life by converting an African person. One of the earliest examples of Christianity being used to defend slavery comes from a minister in Mississippi during the early 1800s. Preacher James Smylie greatly supported slavery and viewed it as an institution sanctioned by God. He relied heavily on Biblical scripture to back up his proslavery claims. For example, despite the lack of any real explanation as to the nature of the sin for which the Hamites were cursed, in his discussion of Paul’s teaching Smylie emphasizes that slaves owe their masters honor, as well as obedience, hard work and loyalty. This message appealed greatly to slave owners who wanted not just the God given right to own slaves, but the respect and even admiration of the very people they held in bondage.
In examining the reasons for Christianity’s support for slavery, racism was not the only motivation. The relationship between southern, white Christians and slavery was more complicated than is remembered in modern America’s collective memory. For many white Southerners, slavery was not just a syste...


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...tion that would truly decide if slavery was meant to stay or go. Although Christianity was used as justification for the war for most of the South, it had more economic and social significance. Southerners were more afraid that they would lose their wealth and status is slavery was abolished, than they were afraid that African-Americans being free would jeopardize Christian morals. For many southern families, the destruction of a slave labor system was synonymous with the deterioration of wealth. In part, the fact that slaves served as a relief from menial household chores and labor, was the foundation of wealth in the south and had a great deal to do with status. So as slavery began its’ demise right before their eyes, southerners of considerable status found themselves performing household tasks and consequently began to feel as if their wealth was slipping away.

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