Slavery As A Way Of Life Essay

Slavery As A Way Of Life Essay

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Emerson, an abolitionist himself, succinctly defines the ongoing dilemma of the slave owning South. The Southern states had inextricably tied their economy, politics, lifestyle and future to the “peculiar institution” of slavery. Once indulging in the ownership of slaves, the south had lost its own freedom to move beyond slavery. Instead they were bound to defend its existence and application regardless of circumstance.
Slavery was an integral part of the South. Not only vital to the southern economy, the existence of slavery became ingrained in the southern culture and way of life. As such, there were a variety of arguments that the southerners posed to rationalize and defend their lifestyle of slavery.
The arguments in defense of slavery, ranged from slaves possessing inferior intellect to giving them an almost utopian way of life. Even though only twenty-five percent of the southern population owned slaves, most southerners still supported slavery as a way of life and a status symbol to aspire to. Considering that the majority of Southern farmers were “plot farmers” barely existing, the chance to better oneself by owning a slave meant wealth, not Planter class but still a better station in life. Slaves performed the simplistic, menial and lowest types of labor, tasks that a white man should not have to do. This “provided a floor in the Southern economy” (Keene, 2012:364). Furthermore, it advanced the ideology of white supremacy, paradoxically purportedly preserving equality among the white men by them not having to stoop to perform these lowly tasks themselves.
Some of the pro-slavery activists purported that slaves were actually being given a better way of life than they previously lived and even better than their northe...


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...ccessful. Soon thereafter, Redeemer politics of white supremacy had become well entrenched in the South as evidenced by the Jim Crow laws, Mississippi Plan and use of poll taxes to keep blacks from the polls(Keene, 2012:412-425).
Slavery was a fundamental issue of the United States in the 1800’s. Slaves were able to see the light of liberty and freedom as a result of the Civil War, but shortly after, the darkness of oppression soon overshadowed the victory. Congress worked to enact laws to secure the rights of the Freedman, under Reconstruction, but they couldn’t legislate attitudes. Southern resistance in the form of both repressive laws, and violence added to the already cumbersome pressures of acclimating to life as free people. Returning southern leadership succeeded in creating barriers and thwarting efforts of the Freedmen; ultimately restoring the white power.

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