Creating the Cotton South





Chapter 12 Summary

Creating the Cotton South

Chapter 12 starts by focusing on the development of the cotton South, starting with the expansion of the slave trade due to the exhaustion of various tobacco regions in Chesapeake, which resulted in the existence of surplus slaves. The following expansion of the economic development to new lands in the Southwest and the Southeast brought about new demands for slave labor. Slavery was expanded even further due to the government’s securing of Louisiana, as well as the removal of Indians, and the annexation of Texas as well as other lands from Mexico. Despite the end of international slave trade, the natural increase in the African American population ensured a steady supply of slaves. By the year 1860, the author argues that a number of different groups made up what had come to be viewed as an increasingly complex society. These groups ranged from yeomen, middle-class planters, elite planters and propertyless whites. Further slave holding as well as non-slave holding whites continued to compete politically over land taxation, luxury goods and slaves, while others concentrated on creating a race based society that would see all whites own property and become slave owners, with other whites fleeing to areas such as the Appalachian Mountains, to create free labor counties. In 1860, the South opted to remain committed to the institution and expansion of slavery due to a number of reasons, ranging from abundant land, which increased the demand for slaves, high profits in cotton cultivation, the high demand for cotton by Europe and Northern United States, and the belief that slavery was good for the society and was in tandem with republican values, to the view that the existence of a slave society reinforced white superior identity and privileged all whites.

The African American World

In terms of spirituality, and culture, a few similarities existed between whites and blacks, with the Second Great Awakening influencing both groups to turn to spirituality. Further, the similar environmental and geographical conditions also resulted in a similar diet for both groups. The origins of the cultures for both whites and blacks differed, with African Americans adopting certain practices from their African cultures, while the white culture was predominantly influenced by European, English and Scottis-Irish backgrounds. The obvious wealth differences also meant that the standard of living for whites was actually much higher than that of the African Americans, in terms of food, housing and clothing.

Some of the cultures borrowed and incorporated into the African American culture that have persisted to date included, incest taboos, the ring shout, and values of African marriage. Although some such as ritual scarring were eroded by the passage of time, the important ones remained. The institution of slavery also resulted in the development of other cultural practices, such as the prohibition of mutilation of slaves by other slaves, as well as the adoption of religion. The place of free blacks was also not really different to those of slaves, as they were forced to live precariously, and were mostly relegated to very low paying jobs. Further, they were not allowed to own property or vote. Blacks were also denied the liberty to join political parties or unions, as well as participate in juries, or testify against whites in courts of law. Most Free blacks in the south at the time, lived in coastal cities, and worked as domestic servants and day laborers.