Slavery And The Old South Essay

Slavery And The Old South Essay

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Slavery and the Old South are tied together like peas and carrots. The Antebellum South had a symbiotic relationship with slavery from its very onset. Starting with indentured servants it was then picked up by African blacks brought into the colonies by ship. The relationship with slavery was ingrained into the country side by the planters who used slaves to farm cash crops of tobacco and then cotton. This relationship along with southern nationalism eventually leads the newly formed nation into a bloody war that masqueraded as States rights battle, but really was about slavery. It is this fundamental relationship between slavery and the South that James Oakes explains in his book, Slavery and Freedom; An Interpretation of the Old South. Oakes takes us on a tour of his thoughts of the Old South and his fundamental reasons of why it all happened. The book does establish Oakes’ thoughts on not only slavery in the American South, but how it relates to freedom and its involvement in the Civil War.
Oakes first task is to connect slavery to the South and why it was there. “Where slavery dominated the economy of the ancient world, New World slavery was itself the servant of the driving force of capitalism.” In a way that almost commands common sense, Oakes compares slavery and capitalism as a joint entity. He is not completely wrong, as early members of the South had been aristocrats from Europe who became land owners. With a nod to the futile system of ancient days, they went out to establish that kind of land, becoming planters.
To work the land, planters started with indentured servants from England. As indentured servants became scares it was more economic viable to buy slaves. “Free Virginians steadily acquainted themselv...


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... power in the old South, afterward; power became ownership of the land. The two became interconnected. Planters owned the land, then after the Civil War, they became land-lord merchants. Both used their money to control slaves, and later all Southern farmers.
Oakes’ book Slavery and Freedom; an Interpretation of the Old South, is an account of how Capitalism plays an important part of slavery and freedom. The Old South, so entrenched in slavery, relied on it as one of its sole sources of income. This comes to a head after the Revolutionary War, when freedom itself becomes social evaluation. Slavery eventually ends but the capitalist approach doesn’t. Finding different ways to navigate through times the planters still hang on to power. Oakes book takes us along for the ride with not much in the way of a good conclusion except knowing one will eventually come.

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