Lincoln Idealist and Pragmatist - Appendix II - Slavery in America

Appendix II - Slavery in America

History of Slavery in America

lavery came to the Americas in the 1600s, and helped build fortunes for the settlers. However, Christian missionaries and American Enlightenment forced people to think about

putting an end to the institution of slavery. Towards the end of the 18th century, Northern states began abolishing it. The Northwest Ordinance of 1787 prohibited slavery in territories north of the Ohio River. From 1808, the importation of slaves was banned by the Constitution of the U.S. However, during the end of 18th century the cotton gin had been developed which made cotton plantations in the South lucrative; consequently slave trade revived despite its illegal status and slave labor became further embedded in the South, influencing its society as well as its politics. Southerners justified slavery as beneficial for both slaves and society, depicting slave masters as benevolent fathers. However, economic forces were not the only obstacles to emancipation. White society could not reconcile itself to accept the Negro as his equal – even though free blacks had lived in both the North and South after the American Revolution and five thousand blacks had fought in it too. Solutions advocated by Presidents Jefferson and Monroe such as Gradual Emancipation and Colonisation did not prove successful. As the country ex­panded westward, the difficult issues with regard to slavery

Appendix II - Slavery in America

Appendix II - Slavery in America

cropped up repeatedly with the North and South fighting over the status of the new territories and states with regard to slavery. Wanting to influence Congress, the South succeeded in get­ting Congressional representation of slaveholding states in their favour. Each slave counted as 3/5th a person, thereby swelling that states representation as compared to those of the North. As a result, slaveholders’ interests were protected in the National Government, since majority presidents and Supreme Court justices were southern slaveholders.

With the passage of time, a new philosophy was taking shape. Apart from the humanitarian and moral reasons for objecting to slavery, the emergence of a free-labor industrial capitalism also disapproved of this aging slave institution. A growing number of Northerners, believed that slavery debased labor, prevented eco­nomic opportunity for the white labour class, discouraged edu­cation, and produced an autocratic class of people who seemed adamant to dominate the nation.

Appendix II - Slavery in America

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