Slavery 1780 - 1860


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Marxist histroiran

Genovese viewed anti-bellum south as closed paternalistic society that exploited and attempted to dehumanise slaves

Look at religion as resistance.  Look at how slaves reject status by religion, music and  culture..

Genoves apples Gramsci;s theory of cultural hegemony to the slave south.

Paternalism for masters means they can feel benevolent and benign

Paternalism for salves means they can twist so gifts and privileges can be turned into rights

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Genovese 2 Life in teh Big House

1/4 of slaves worked in houses - but includes yeoman who bought one salve to help round house

Mentions slaveholders who dread to go home and take care of 12 slaves who accomplish less than two northern servants

Whites become incompetent because they rely on slaves

Field hands had prescribed leisure times - Sundays, prescribed holidays and evenings - House slaves may not have this

Black mammy would deliver white baby often white mistress delivered black baby


Heightened paternalism of the big house

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Elkins made two major, and controversial, arguments in Slavery. The first was that American abolitionists undercut their own effectiveness by their insistence on ideological consistency and purity, and their refusal to compromise with the slave system. Elkins contrasted them with British abolitionists who, he argued, were more pragmatic and therefore more politically effective; he noted that Britain had abolished slavery without war.

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Elkins's second argument was that the experience of slavery was psychologically infantilizing to slaves, making them follow what he controversially called the "Sambo" model. He based his arguments on then-recent sociological and psychological research by Bruno Bettelheim and others on inmates of Nazi concentration camps during World War II, showing that the totalitarian environment systematically destroyed their ability to resist, to plan, and to form positive relationships with one another. Elkins speculated that antebellum slavery was a similar environment and instilled an infantilized, dependent personality pattern. One implication, only partially spelled out in Elkins's account, was that this personality pattern might persist in his own time, a century after the end of slavery. Elkins' views were influential during the late 1960s when Daniel Patrick Moynihan, supported Affirmative action programs in order to counteract the lingering effects of slavery on black culture.

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Slaveowners - centrality of labour issue was obvious - slavery is a great vital fact, without it every comfort would be taken from us

Black labour - land that is rich with the sweat of our faces and the blodd of our backs

description of how slaves; ruin more cart, break more gates etc

Slave revolts - not uncommon - slave revolts often inspired by religious and political ideas.    Negroes are the Jacobins - knowledge of independence of Haiti

Nat Turner insurection 1831 - a respectful bondsman who rose up with group of confederates and killed 60 whites in a desperate if unsuccessful bid for freedom

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Seminole Wars 1812 and 1835

Florida a haven for runaways (maroons)  joined up with Indians  !835 war lasted 7 years.  Ultimately victory for US but conditional as blacks were allowed to accompany Indians westward

White south also had turmoil.  System of slavery kept wages down for whites possibly restricted freedom of labour for whites

In 1790 looks as if slavery on the way out - until cotton boom

North growing in popn so started to have more influence by 1820 south had only 42% of votes in house of representatives.

Abolition groups started in north

Free soil clubs and North not wanting slavery in states acquied from Mexico

Slaves escape through underground railroad

Uncle Toms Cabin 1852

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Elkins again

The closed structure of the plantation system sustains infantilism - role play by negroes

Generalisation and crudely simplified

Examples WBA

African Americans were stupid lazy and dishonest

destroying tools and injuring livestock.

It was a way of surviving *******

Compare to concentration camp behaviour

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Elkins more

All food warmth etc comes from a signifcant other - the ** guard or the plantation master

Penalties for overstepping the mark severe

The simple unadulterated slave (pollard)

Elskins says in latin america it was an open system there were otehr significant others priests magistrates - slave could po**ibly have other roles outside the plantation

Elsins says revolts were planned by leaders who were outside the plantation system


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Numbers and lecture notes

1790 4000 bales of cotton and 700k slaves

1860 4 m bales of cotton 4 m slaves

By 1780s price of slaves declining but Industrial revolution in England makes big demand for cotton.

1793 Eli Witney invents cotton gin, suitable for processing short staple cotton

2 consequences:

Westward migration

increase in slavery

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Lecture notes

Settlers from upper south go to deep south

Cotton planters expand and need more land

1808 slave imports banned - domestic slave popn grows

Owning slaves was not wide spread.  75% of white south did not own slaves.

Of 25% who did own slaves had only 4 or 5

Small eliet owned 50 slaves - 50% of slaves lived on large plantations

North had urban industrial transprt?

South very rural

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Lecture notes

Hostile and contemptuous north

Upper south has a more diverse economy than deep south but south is unified

North - slaver a source of embarrasment


Phillips 1918 - benevolent and benign slavery, providing education and welfare to blacks

By 1950s Civil Rights movement > examination of Old South Myth

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Lecture Notes

Why did slaves not rise up?

Elkins, Genovese

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