Slavery

In: Historical Events

Submitted By aaanderson
Words 2500
Pages 10
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“How accurate were Southern claims in the antebellum period that slavery was benign and profitable?”
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By 1850 the issues surrounding slavery had dominated American politics because it was such a divisive issue in the antebellum period. Slavery was extremely important to Southern economics where ‘plantation’ farming had been established and laws passed which meant that all Negro slaves would be slaves for life. In the North, however, they found it easy to rid themselves of slavery and many states began to oppose slavery. Another important and again divisive question is was slavery benign or malignant and also was it profitable? In the antebellum period there were Southern claims that slavery was both benign and profitable. This claim can be argued to be partly accurate, but there are, however, other claims that slavery was malignant and unprofitable. This essay will weigh up and evaluate the evidence under the terms of punishments, revolts, living conditions and profitability before coming to the conclusion as to whether slavery was benign and profitable or malignant and unprofitable. An important aspect to consider when determining whether or not the Southern claims that slavery was benign in the antebellum period were accurate or not is the punishments faced by slaves. It has been argued that slaves were controlled through rewards rather than physical punishments. Historians Fogel and Engerman backed up the antebellum Southern view in the claim that slave owners used a scheme of work incentives designed to relieve tensions of slavery rather than to increase the work rate. This is also backed up by Peter Parish when he said: “They were often tranquilizers rather than stimuli, safety valves rather than incentives.” By this he means that the owners gave…...

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