Slavery In 19c

Slavery In 19c

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Slavery in 19th Century

     A justified institution as the 19th century emerged; the infamous institution of slavery grew rapidly and produced some surprising controversy and rash justification. Proslavery, Southern whites used social, political, and economical justification in their arguments defining the institution as a source of positive good, a legal definition, and as an economic stabilizer. The proslavery supporters often used moral and biblical rationalization through a religious foundation in Christianity and supported philosophic ideals in Manifest Destiny to vindicated slavery as a profitable investment. They also examined the idea of popular sovereignty and the expansion of slavery in territorial plans like the Kansas-Nebraska scheme to support their arguments. The proslavery advocates even went far enough to include the constitution as a fair legal justification for their practices. Clear-cut attempts to bend the rules on the legality of slavery in documents like the Lecompton Constitution made some rationalizations look weak and rash in concept. With the South’s slavery dependent and fragile economy, Southerners were ready to fight for their survival with whatever means were necessary. Proslavery whites launched a defensive against slavery, which explained the “peculiar institution” as a positive good, supported, in fact, by the sacred words of the Bible and the philosophy of the wise Aristotle. The moral and biblical justification surrounding their belief that the relations between slave and man, however admitting to deplore abused in it, was compatible with Christianity, and that the presence of Africans on American soil was an occasion of gratitude on the slave’s behalf before God. Basically, the slaves should have been grateful for their bondage. Plantation owners even stressed religion by teaching the slaves the principles of Christianity and by brainwashing the slaves into thinking they were blessed by God to be given a master who cares for them and a Christian family to live with. In accordance with religion, proslavery Southerners used the idea of Manifest Destiny. The belief that God predestined the United States for a hemispheric career to defend their fragile position by explaining that slavery promoted territorial expansion, thus adhering to the expansionist principles of Manifest Destiny and promoting slavery as a positive good. Southerners used this argument timely right in the middle of an era of domestic expansion led by President Pierce and supported by people like Stephen Douglass. Douglass proposed the controversial Kansas-Nebraska act a plan to resolve a sectional imbalance in newly surveyed territory, which directly relied on the idea of popular sovereignty to be compromised.

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Due to the fact that popular sovereignty is an ideal based on the tenets of democracy that support the People’s will. Southerners used popular sovereignty to justify their slavery practices, ultimately slavery is supported through popular sovereignty since it is the people’s will to enslave black, or at least the Southerner’s will. Another social aspect of rationalization is the slavery institution is derived from the Southern argument, which contrasted the happy lives of their slaves to the overworked and exhausted Northern black wageworkers. In the South, benefits; whereas in the North black were caged in dank and dark factories and were released after their usefulness had served its purpose. Why work in the North when there are safe, comfortable plantations to work on in the South? Though the social aspects of slavery helped to directly support the moral argument of proslavery Southerners, the legal aspects of slavery more or less served as visible victories and defending events in Southern philosophy. The Dred Scott Case is a prime example of the legal side to the Southern defensive arguments and the Southern definition of popular sovereignty. The Supreme Court decreed that because a slave was private property, he or she could be taken into any territory and legally held there in slavery. The court’s reasoning lied in our own Constitution. The Fifth Amendment clearly forbade Congress to deprive people of their property without due process of law. Moreover, proslavery Southerners used legal arguments rooted in the Constitution to defend their position on slavery by merly stating that the “Supreme Law of the Land” did not even mention the “slavery,” at least not up until that time. So by this fact, slavery was legally justified and, therefore, should and could be practiced. Southerners further used their argument in 1857 when proslavery forces devised a tricky document known as the Lecompton Constitution, which manily dealt with the statehood of Kansas. The constitution could not be voted down or approved by the people; rather, the people voted for the Constitution with slavery or without slavery. If the anti-slavery forces prevailed in the vote, there was a protective clause which secured slaves already in Kansas; so either way the South won, thus further defining the South’s view of popular sovereignty and further providing a legal justification for slavery. The south’s agriculturally driven economy was the main reason slavery remained in existence for so many years, and because no principles or moral were compromised, it was the prime justification for slavery. The cotton industry controlled many aspects of American society during the 19th century. The triangle of reliance formed between the dependent economies of the North, South, and Britain relied on the Southern cotton industry for materials used in textile mills, the South relied on the North for grain, and Britain was the market for both American economies. One argument surrounds the fact that the North was actually supporting the slavery institution because for so many years they pumped money into the industry by investing in the cotton. The fragility of the triangle was tested as controversy surrounding the labor methods used by the South was questioned and criticized. The controversy reached a high and the Civil War commenced, proving to be the ultimate imbalance and destructor of the economy. Meanwhile, the South also saw a war that was not winnable without foreign intervention; thus, the third party comes into play. It is obvious the South had to enforce slavery at this point based on their dependence on cotton as a source of revenue and foreign intervention as a pathway to victory. Surely, if they had no slaves, there would be no cotton, and without cotton, there was surely to be no help from Britain. Thus, the economy proved to be a viable source of justification toward slavery as a profitable institution in the minds of the Southerners. By analyzing the social, political, and economic reasons in which Southern proslavery advocates vindicated and justified their position on the issue of slavery, we are given the unique opportunity to look deep at the Southern philosophy on war, peace, and bondage, the raw side of human nature where survival is the only option. Perseverance is what the pro-Southerners are respected for, but they are remembered for their fault in judgment and rash justifications in their defense of slavery as a profitable institution. Perhaps it would have been an injustice to society if slavery had not existed since so many moral lessons have been learned from it.
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