The American South During Civil War

966 words - 4 pages

The American South, had a social system which was distinct in many ways. There was an economy relative to
the region, where class structure and a system of racial differences which caused the South to become
unique to the rest of the nation. Historians such as James Henretta have said that Capitalism was the
cause of all evil within the American South. American Capitalism defined by Max Weber is “ a greed for
gain”, and “acquisition by force, ... whether directly in war or in the form [of] exploitation of
subjects”. This type of lifestyle within a growing nation could not work with the gentry class which was
moving into the region unless there was ...view middle of the document...

To southern colonists, slavery was first an
economic institution solely for the purpose of solving an economic problem, that problem - work cost too
much money so the colonists implemented forced labor for economic gain. So slavery provided the basis for
a special Southern economic and social life which had continued on until the Ci!
vil war.
The special economic life which the people of the South lived upon was one of greed for expansion
and gain. Capitalism at its best, and the Southern colonies were very good at it. Lewis C. Gray defined
the southern plantation as a “capitalistic type of agricultural organization in which a considerable
number of unfree laborers were employed under a unified direction and control in the production of a
staple crop.” The plantations were mostly one crop oriented, cotton or tobacco, and this lead to cash
crops rather than supplying for the colonies themselves. The plantation gentry or Masters as they were
called by the slaves, never thought of the ‘big picture’ involving cash crops, only their own well being
and how much money they were going to make whether physical force was used or not. Slavery and the
plantation system led to agricultural methods that depleted soils and the slavery system forced the South
to exploit more slave labor as a means of better production rather th!
an the realization of worn-out lands. Such a labor system in the South aggravated and caused very deep
problems between the Master and his slaves.
Slavery established the basis of the planter’s position and power. It measured his affluence,
marked his status, “and supplied leisure for...

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