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Slavery In America Essay

3126 words - 13 pages

Slavery shaped every facet of the daily life of those living in the old south and even those living in the Northern Stares. Focusing primarily on the Old Southern States it is easy to see that slavery heavily affected the social, economic, religious, and political aspects of old southern life. To begin, the economic effect that slavery had on the southern states were numerous. Slavery allowed for enormous profits to be made by the America. The free labor used to pick cotton and other crops made it very profitable for the plantation owners and the owners of factories in the northern states. Another economic effect was the development of the south. Because slavery made it so profitable ...view middle of the document...

Therefore the wealth that they accumulated allowed them to acquire a privileged and influential status in society. Because of this, most state and local governmental offices were held by wealthy and influential planters. These same people from the planter class formed the leadership of both political parties. In essence slavery became the tool that many used to reach a political office and the influencing of America’s policy decisions.
Slaves in the south were allowed very few legal rights. Slaves could be bought, sold, or leased. They had no voice in the government that governed them. They could not testify in court against a white person. They could not sign contracts, own property, own firearms, or learn to read and write. Slaves were allowed to raise and cultivate animals and crops to supplement the food they were given by their owners. This was only done to improve the living conditions to protect the owners’ investments. What seemed to be generosity was only done to strengthen slavery. Slaves rarely had any say in what they could do in their free time. In most cases their masters dictated what they could and could not do in every aspect of their lives. The owners could choose who was to marry who among the slaves. Slaves that were skilled labors could be hired by an employer but most of their wages would still go to the owner.
The lives of the plain folk were one of hardship and daily struggle. The plain folk were those families living in the South with no slaves. This made up about ¾ of the families in the south. These families used family to work the land rather than slave labor or hired labor. These plain folk also were reduced to the most undesirable land because the planters, those with 20 or more slaves, had monopolized the most desirable land. The plain folk were self-sufficient and depended on livestock and the growing of their own food to feed the family. They bought little from local stores. In most cases these families were desperately poor. Most members of this class were illiterate due to the low amount of public schools at that time in most southern states. Also these plain folk served as slave patrols to capture fugitive slaves and to keep slaves from running away. Because plain folk were self-sustaining they were for the most part isolated from the markets. The planter class as already mentioned were those that owned 20 or more slaves. This included about 40000 families at the time. These southerners controlled the desired and fertile land. Slave ownership was one path to wealth and status. One of the results of this fact was that state and local governmental offices were held by members of this class. Also the leadership of both political parties borrowed from this class of southerner. These planter southerners invested in enterprises such as railroads and canals. The wives of this class kept busy by providing medical attention to the slaves, directed domestic servants, and also...

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