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Economy and Slavery Essay Sample

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Economy and Slavery Essay Sample

Slavery is an institution that has existed since ancient times. To argue over its immorality is irrelevant, as its ethical and moral implications are blatantly evident. However, to say that the main cause of disdain of the institution from the North stems from its immorality is inherently incorrect, due to the fact, that as previously stated, slavery has existed since ancient times, perforce its immorality could not simply be the main cause of hatred toward this withstanding system from the North. Nevertheless, it goes without saying that their disgust toward the peculiar institution (a common name used to refer to slavery) is related to its ethical implications. However, the question still remains: what was the root of the difference of opinion between the North and South, prior to the Civil War, regarding slavery, and how were these views attained? Many factors come into play when assessing the answer, such as their differing economies and political views. The following documents prove how both their economic and political differences culminated in their drastically different viewpoints on slavery preceding the Civil War.

The main staple of the Southern economy was cotton, which was known as King Cotton or referred to as “our great Southern staple” (doc. B) among those living in the South at the time. Cotton was harvested on plantations that required the use of slave labor (doc. E), which led to a large population of slave owners. In the South, the economy was dependent on selling these raw materials to manufactures. In contrast, the North was comprised of the manufactures that hired factory workers instead. When juxtaposing the northern factory workers with the southern slaves many similarities surface. Both the southern slaves and northern factory workers were comprised of immigrants, the southern slaves were from Africa and the northern factory workers were from Ireland and Germany. Their treatment differed, however many believe that the factory workers may have had a slightly easier ride. This notion has been disproven by evidence found in doc. A. which claims that the comforts of the slaves are “greatly superior to those of the English factory operatives”.

The southern economy could not function without its slaves, so to justify slavery to the religious the south proclaimed it as a necessary evil, and even went as far as belittling the slaves to being devil worshipers (doc. G). The devout of the North did not fully understand the extent of the horrors of southern slavery, however it was revealed to them in Harriet Beecher Stowe’s novel Uncle Tom’s cabin which became one of the great bestsellers of its time (doc. H). Politically, slavery became one of those hot topic issues that politicians usually like to avoid speaking about because the country was divided into two different view points, pro-slavery and anti-slavery, and politicians wanted to be in everyone’s good graces to win come election time. However, when the argument came about weather or not newly inducted states could ban slavery or not, tensions rose in the government.

This led to the Compromise of 1850, which allowed for stricter fugitive laws, but allowed California to be free, and New Mexico and Utah to make their decision based on popular sovereignty (the idea that the people of that state should choose). Politically, slavery left a whole mess of confusion for the new states. For example, in the Kansas- Nebraska act a railroad was to be built crossing over two new territories (Kansas and Nebraska) that allowed for the possibility of slavery. However, the location of these territories falls under the area of land that had been closed to slavery by the Missouri Compromise of 1820. This sort of confusion is what led to free slaves having their free papers ripped to pieces in front of them in the south by greedy, desperate plantation owners so they (the plantation owners) could acquire more slaves (doc. C). All in all, there were many factors that contributed to the rise of the Civil War. Moreover, it must be recognized that because slavery has been an on going practice for centuries its unethical implications cannot be deemed as the primary foundation behind the difference of opinion between the North and South. Rather, their political and economic situations should be recognized as the central root of tension between the North and South, which ultimately led to their differing opinions toward slavery, thus culminating in the Civil War.

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