The Hierarchy of Southern Society Planters

Download 229.88 Kb.
Size229.88 Kb.

The Hierarchy of Southern Society

Planters (aristocracy or “slave-ocracy”)

  • a very small but elite, wealthy, and powerful group in the South

  • planters dominated the southern state legislatures (they had both the economic and political power in the South; called the “slave power”)

  • owners of large plantations of at least 500-1000 acres, with usually more than 100 slaves

  • they grew primarily cotton, but also rice and sugarcane

    • “King Cotton” – cotton was the most important “cash crop” as it made up more than half of all U.S. exports; northern textile mills also depended on southern cotton

Farmers (yeomen or small farmers)

  • they were the largest group of slave owners, although still a rather small segment of the southern population

  • they produced the bulk of southern cotton, although some small farmers grew other crops like corn, wheat

  • owners of up to a few hundred acres; most had <20 slaves (half of all slave owners had fewer than 5 slaves total); many small farmers worked the fields side by-side with their slaves, especially in the Upper South

Poor Whites

  • they made up ¾ of southern whites, and owned no slaves at all

  • they could not afford the prime farmland of the coastal lowlands, so they lived in the hills away from the coast and were often called “hillbillies” or “poor white trash”

  • they lived as subsistence farmers (grew enough to survive)

  • despite not owning slaves themselves, they defended slavery (and later fought to protect it in the Civil War) because:

    • they aspired to own slaves one day

    • slavery made them superior to at least one group (slaves) on the social ladder; feared that freed slaves would be competition for land and jobs

Mountain People

  • they were small farmers on the frontiers of the South; lived isolated from the rest of the South (in the Ozarks of AR; Appalachians of western VA and TN)

  • they disliked (were jealous of?) the planters and the ruling elites of the east

  • they opposed they institution of slavery, not on moral grounds, but because it represented the wealth and power of the planter class

Free Blacks

  • 250,000 free blacks in the South at time of Civil War (which made up <10% of southern black population); by comparison, there were roughly 250,000 free blacks in North as well

  • many free blacks were emancipated during the Revolution; some were freed by their white fathers; some had saved money and bought their own freedom

  • free blacks tended to stay in the cities; they often had to show papers to avoid being returned to slavery

  • they could not vote nor serve on juries; were barred from all but most menial occupations


  • in 1800, there were 1 million slaves in the US; by 1860, there were 4 million (compare this to the 9 million whites in the South in 1860); slaves were a majority of the population in the “Cotton Belt” regions of the Deep South

  • valued at $2000 on average (in 1860; equivalent of about $50,000 today); wealthy southerners invested so much capital in slaves that they had little left over to invest in industry (an argument made by Hinton Helper in The Impending Crisis of the South, 1857)

  • about ¾ of slaves worked in field labor; others worked as domestic servants; <5% worked in factory labor; a small fraction of urban slaves may have worked in skilled trades or service jobs and returned a portion of their wages to their masters

  • slaves had a strong sense of family; most plantation slave families were stable and couples were monogamous, despite the threats of death and separation by being “sold down river”; on smaller farms, slave families were often “matrifocal” (female-led) and women cared for their children in the absence of their husbands

  • slave communities had a strong sense of “kinship” with non-blood relations

  • slaves were very religious and practiced their own adaptation of Christianity, incorporating many African religious rituals; slaves drew heavily from the Bible’s story of Moses leading his people out of slavery in Egypt to the Promised Land of Canaan (from Book of Exodus)

The “Peculiar Institution”

Slave Resistance and Revolts

  • slaves resisted in many ways including: work slowdowns, sabotage (breaking equipment or self-inflicting injuries), escape, and (rarely) revolts

    • Underground Railroad – a network of abolitionists and former slaves who helped slaves escape north to freedom (often to Canada)

      • led by Harriet Tubman, Sojourner Truth, David Ruggles, William Still

  • Stono rebellion (1739) – largest slave uprising of the colonial period (in South Carolina)

  • Prosser’s rebellion (1800)

    • Gabriel Prosser was a deeply Christian, young slave who planned to lead a massive armed revolt by taking Richmond, VA, by force

    • with 1000s of followers and weapons, Prosser was set to attack when his rebellion was set back by a betrayal by two followers and a flood that wiped out key bridges

    • Prosser’s rebellion, which had the potential to take Richmond, was crushed by the militia

  • Vesey’s conspiracy (1822)

    • Denmark Vesey was a skilled ex-slave from Charleston, SC, who had bought his freedom, but despised slavery

    • Vesey, too, was inspired by his Christianity and the Israelites escape from bondage in the Old Testament

    • Vesey and others organized a massive revolt with numerous “cells” of rebels and planned to violently butcher slave masters and their families, but they too were betrayed

  • Nat Turner’s rebellion (1831)

    • the last great slave uprising prior to the Civil War

    • Nat Turner, known as the Prophet, was deeply religious (like Prosser and Vesey) but focused more on New Testament’s apocalypse and creation of a “New Jerusalem”

    • Turner and others led a rebellion in VA in which 55 whites were brutally killed; whites retaliated and brutally killed hundreds of blacks in retaliation

    • rebellion quelled any southern talk of abolishing slavery and, like all slave insurrections, led to greater restrictions and harsher punishments imposed on blacks

  • John Brown’s raid (1859) – Brown, a white abolitionist, planned to spark a slave uprising by seizing the federal arsenal at Harper’s Ferry, VA – he failed, was captured and hanged

The “Peculiar Institution”

  • great paradox of slavery: southerners saw slaves as both human and yet “property”

  • as result of this paradox, southerners were constantly attempting to defend the institution of slavery

  • before Turner’s rebellion, slavery was viewed as an economic necessity (“necessary evil”)

    • southerners often debated whether (and how) to gradually emancipate the slaves

    • some southerners supported the American Colonization Society and its plans to gradually emancipate and then deport slaves back to Africa

  • after Nat Turner’s rebellion (and with increasing profitability of cotton production, and thus, slavery itself), southerners offered a variety of arguments in defense of slavery, calling it a “positive good”

    • race “science”

      • claimed that blacks were an inferior race best suited for slavery

      • claimed blacks had smaller skulls and brains and lower mental abilities

      • ludicrous biological and historical evidence was presented to “prove” it

    • Christianity and the Bible

      • slaveholders argued that, by exposing and converting African slaves to Christianity, they were saving the souls of these “heathens”

      • southerners pointed to slavery in Biblical times as evidence of its consistency with Christianity; often quoted from the Bible: “servants obey your masters”

      • “polygenesis” – theory that there was more than one genesis (Biblical creation), from which all men descended; blacks and whites were not all children of Adam and Eve

    • paternalism

      • southerners argued that, because of slaves’ mental and moral “shortcomings,” slavery allowed whites to care for and protect them

      • argued that masters were “good” to their slaves – they provided food, shelter, care, Christianity, and they welcomed them as part of their “extended family” (“our people”)

        • like a parent-child, teacher-student, or doctor-patient relationship

      • paternalist view of slavery meshed with the patriarchal (husband/father-dominated) society of the South

  • some southerners criticized northerners for being hypocritical

    • argued that northern white laborers (many of whom were immigrants), worked long hours under brutal conditions in factories and mines and were nothing more than “wage slaves” (George Fitzhugh’s Cannibals All!)

Immigration and Nativism


  • US population figures

    • in 1820, nearly 10 million people lived in America

      • and in 1820, only 8,000 immigrants came to the US from Europe

      • however, between the 1830s and 1850s, the first major wave (nearly 4 million) of immigrants came to the United States (known as the “Old Immigrants”)

    • so that by 1860, over 31 million people lived in America

  • the three major waves of immigration in US history

    • “Old immigrants” – primarily Irish and Germans in the Antebellum decades

    • “New immigrants” – primarily southern, central, and eastern Europeans (Italians, Poles, etc.) and Asians (Chinese, Japanese) in the late 19th and early 20th centuries

    • modern immigrants – primarily Hispanics (Mexicans), Asians (Filipinos, Vietnamese, Indians), and Middle Easterners from 1965 to the present

  • “Old Immigrants”

    • why did they come to America?

      • transportation improvements (especially steamships) made the trip easier and less expensive

      • “push” factors: the Irish potato famine (1840s and 1850s); Irish persecution by the English; and the failed German democratic revolutions of 1848

      • “pull” factors: economic opportunities (jobs, cheap land) and political and religious freedoms

    • the Irish (1840s)

      • Irish were largest group of the early immigrants (approx. 2 million)

      • they were poor, unskilled laborers

      • their difficult farm experience in Ireland and lack of resources to buy farmland in US led them to seek factory jobs

      • they were primarily Roman Catholics, who faced persecution in largely Protestant America

      • they settled together in the big cities of the East (Boston, NYC, Philadelphia)

      • they often competed with free blacks for low-paying jobs, which often led to tension

      • some Irish eventually entered politics and they supported the Democratic party, which shared the strong anti-British feelings that the Irish possessed

    • the Germans (1850s)

      • Germans were second-largest group of early immigrants (approx. 1 million)

      • they had some farming and craft skills and modest wealth

      • they were mostly Protestant, but some were Catholics

      • most settled on farms in the Old Northwest (including Ohio)

      • as their political influence grew, Germans tended to support public education and oppose slavery

The Nativist Backlash

  • nativism –idea of protecting interests of native-born Americans against the interests of immigrants

    • native-born Americans feared that the large influx of immigrants would

      • create competition for jobs and land

      • weaken the culture of the Anglo majority in America

    • most nativists were Protestants who distrusted the Roman Catholic Irish and Germans, labeling them as “papists” (a derogatory term for Catholics who, it was believed, would put their loyalty to the Pope before their loyalty to their new country)

  • some protests against immigrants turned to riots in large northern cities

  • a secret anti-immigrant society formed, known as the Supreme Order of the Star-Spangled Banner, and became political in the 1850s, when it organized as the American (or “Know-Nothing”) party

    • the American party was a nativist party that supported restrictions on immigration and other laws that protected native-born workers against cheap immigrant labor

    • the party was strongest in northern cities where immigrants (especially Irish Catholics) were increasing in number and offering competition for jobs

    • the nickname “Know-Nothings” derived from party members who often responded, “I know nothing,” when asked questions about their nativist views or activities

    • although the Know-Nothings won few major elections, they weakened the Whig party in the North by taking away crucial votes

    • the party quickly faded since it had no strong position on the major issues, particularly slavery; most Know-Nothings joined the Republican party after 1854

  • the nativist movement faded during the Civil War, but reemerged in the late 19th and early 20th century when more immigrants (the “New immigrants” ) arrived

Pursuit of Perfection: Religion and Reform in Antebellum America

Review of the (First) Great Awakening

  • (First) Great Awakening (1730s-1740s in New England; 1750s and 1760s in the South)

    • GA was the first of many evangelical religious revivals in America and it brought emotionalism into Protestant services

      • evangelicalism – a brand of Protestant Christianity that emphasizes the need for a personal conversion (being “born again”), places great authority in the Bible, and emphasizes the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ

      • GA was characterized by a re-emphasis on human sinfulness, the perils of damnation, and the need for repentance (in the Puritan tradition) and in fervent expressions of religious feeling among the masses

    • GA was led mainly by two preachers:

      • Jonathan Edwards

        • Edwards initiated GA with series of “fire-and-brimstone” sermons, most notably “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God”

      • George Whitefield

        • came from England and traveled throughout colonies, ignited GA with rousing sermons about hell and damnation; preached in barns, tents, fields to large audiences of up to 10,000

    • impact and significance of the First Great Awakening

      • created and/or increased membership of new religious sects like Baptists and Methodists (including A.M.E. Church); while GA often split older churches between “New Lights” and “Old Lights”

      • increased religious diversity and call for separation of church and state, as new religions feared being marginalized by “established” churches

      • GA was perhaps the first common experience shared by nearly all Americans regardless of national origin or socio-economic status – may have had a unifying effect on the colonies

      • may have had democratizing effect by changing Americans’ views of authority – thus may have helped indirectly inspire the Revolution

The Second Great Awakening

  • American Protestant Christians faced many perceived threats in early 19th century

    • the separation of church and state removed government support and funding from the older, traditional churches (New England Congregationalists – formerly Puritans; Southern Episcopalians)

    • new religious groups (“infidels”) threatened Protestantism: Catholics, Unitarians, Mormons, others

    • the Enlightenment’s secularism and opposition to organized religion, and the rejection of elitism (including religious elites) in the Age of Jackson, combined to minimize religion’s place in politics and society

  • Second Great Awakening (early 1800s through 1840s)

    • 2GA was another religious revival that developed as a reaction to the rational and liberal beliefs of the Enlightenment and American Revolution and the increasing influx of Catholic immigrants

    • unlike the 1GA, which began in New England, 2GA began in the South and on the frontiers with a series of highly emotional “camp meetings” (revivals), usually organized by Methodists, Baptists, or Presbyterians

      • camp meetings were as much social gatherings (in the sparsely-populated, rural West and South) as they were religious events

      • meetings featured conversion experiences; provided a sense of community; and sought to instill social discipline (temperance, lawful behavior) on the “lawless” frontier

      • as a result of the revivals, Baptist and Methodist churches grew in the South and West so that, by 1850, they were the largest Protestant denominations in the country

    • the northern GA started in New England and western New York and was led by Congregationalists and Presbyterians, with heavy Puritan influences

      • unlike the southern and western revivals, northern evangelicals sought to reform society and achieve a sense of individual and societal “perfection” (see Antebellum reform movements)

      • northern evangelicals were troubled by the Enlightenment’s emphasis on Deism (belief in a God who expressed himself through natural laws) and Unitarianism (belief in God but not the Trinity)

      • prominent northern preachers of the 2GA included: Timothy Dwight, Lyman Beecher, and Charles G. Finney in western New York’s “burned-over district”

Antebellum Reform Movements

  • the Antebellum decades (1810s through the Civil War in 1860s) witnessed a succession of social reform movements that sought to improve societal and personal behaviors – these reform movements were inspired by the ideas of both Jacksonian Democracy and the Second Great Awakening, however…

    • Jacksonian democrats idealized the “common man” and tolerated his “immoral” behaviors without seeking to change or reform him…

    • whereas evangelical reformers (who were more likely to be upper- or middle-class Whigs) sought to redeem and uplift, not only themselves, but the “common man,” too

  • the major Antebellum reform movements included: Temperance, Humanitarian reforms (such as prison and asylum reform, ending gambling and prostitution, etc.), Education, Women’s rights, and Abolition of slavery (“THE WAy”)

  • northern women (especially upper- and middle-class white women) played a major role in many reform movements

    • while possessing very few, if any, political or legal rights, social reform movements provided women with a “voice” in society and politics

    • however, in most movements, women (as well as blacks) were often segregated into their own organizations – only the most radical organizations permitted women and black participation with white men (the debate over whether to offer leadership positions to women split the American Anti-Slavery Society)

    • ironically, perhaps the least successful of the major Antebellum reform movements was women’s rights, as women willing suspended their calls for equality when abolition (and ultimately, Civil War) took center stage


  • alcoholism was viewed as the source of all societal ills in Antebellum America and, thus, temperance was the largest and ultimately most successful reform movement

  • temperance was largely supported by women because alcoholism was most threatening to the family (drunk and abusive husbands, fathers)

    • because alcoholism was a threat to the home, women’s involvement in the temperance movement was widely accepted (it fell within the proper “sphere” for women)

  • temperance also received support from factory owners who experienced high absenteeism

  • goals of the temperance movement shifted over time from urging moderation to pledging total abstinence to seeking prohibition by law

      • Neal S. Dow (the “Father of Prohibition”) and the “Maine law” of 1851

  • in urban areas, temperance reformers feared alcohol’s potential effects on mobs of poor laborers – because many of these working poor were Catholic immigrants, it is likely that the fervor for temperance was also inspired by anti-immigrant, anti-Catholic nativist sentiments

    • temperance was largely opposed by Irish and German immigrants

  • temperance and prohibition faded during Civil War; but regained strength after war and advocates achieved ultimate victory with Prohibition and the passage of the 18th Amendment (1919)

Humanitarianism, Public Education, and Other Reforms

  • humanitarian concerns

    • the “discovery of the asylum”

      • a belief developed amongst evangelical reformers that all the ills of society could be solved and that, along those lines, the insane could be cured and criminals reformed

      • as the sense of community began to diminish in early industrial America, the insane and poor could no longer be supported by the private charity of the community

      • by the 1820s and 1830s, states began to establish prisons, insane asylums, and poorhouses; but the conditions of these institutions were miserable and treatment of its inhabitants was inhumane

    • Dorothea Dix emerged as a reformer who worked for the humane treatment of prisoners and the mentally ill

    • prison reformers began to rehabilitate prisoners, instituting the Auburn system, which provided moral instruction and work programs

    • other reformers sought reduction of harsh punishments for crimes

      • fewer executions, public hangings were abolished as were floggings and other cruel punishments

  • public education

    • Horace Mann (MA) was the leading advocate for public schools (1830s-1840s)

      • he worked for compulsory attendance laws, a longer school year, better teacher preparation, and tax-supported schools

    • early public schools placed great emphasis on moral instruction, attempting to instill a standard culture on people who, especially in a place like MA, came from different cultures (many were immigrant Catholics)

      • schools emphasized the “three R’s” of reading, ‘riting, and ‘rithmetic, but also the “Protestant ethic” of industry, punctuality, sobriety, and frugality

      • McGuffey Readers –elementary textbooks that taught reading and moral instruction (behaviors considered necessary in an emerging industrial society)

    • new colleges

      • inspired by the 2GA, numerous private religious colleges were founded in the West (especially OH)

      • some colleges began to admit women (Mt. Holyoke and Oberlin)

    • lyceums – educational lectures for small-town and big-city audiences

  • other miscellaneous reforms

    • American Peace Society formed in 1828 with the goal of abolishing war

    • dietary reforms

      • eating whole wheat bread or Dr. Sylvester Graham’s crackers (“tasteless” foods) was encouraged to promote good digestion, to cure alcoholism, and to discourage sexual promiscuity

      • in late 1800s, Dr. John Kellogg (a disciple of Graham) developed corn flakes for similar reasons

    • women began wearing Amelia Bloomer’s “pantalettes” instead of long skirts to free themselves from restrictive women’s clothing while still protecting a woman’s modesty

      • Bloomer herself was actively involved in women’s rights and temperance

    • “science” of phrenology developed to study the skull’s shape to assess a person’s character and ability

Utopian Communities

  • rise of utopian communities and ideas was a result of several factors: industrialization, urbanization, Second Great Awakening, perfectionism, and emerging women’s rights movement

  • numerous attempts were made in the middle decades of the 19th century to create ideal (or utopian) communities, especially in the open lands of the West

    • these communities were formed by those who largely rejected orthodox Protestantism in favor of alternate spirituality or religion, secular (non-religious) humanism, or European-style utopian socialism

    • most communities rejected established institutions (like existing churches and government); developed new ways of living; and established communes to put their ideas into practice

    • most communities failed sooner or later

  • utopian socialism

    • Robert Owen was a British manufacturer who established a community at New Harmony, IN based on communal ownership of property

      • Owen hoped to address the problems of inequality and alienation caused by the Industrial Revolution

    • Frances Wright established a similar community at Neshoba, TN, consisting of slaves who would work to earn their freedom

    • several other communities were formed around the ideas of French socialist Charles Fourier (known as Fourierist “phalanxes”)

    • Americans’ strong sense of individualism was often blamed for the failure of these socialist communities

  • Shakers (also known as the Millennial Church, or the United Society of Believers)

    • Englishwoman Mother Ann Lee (who believed she was the feminine incarnation of Christ) brought Shaker beliefs to the US in 1774

    • Shakers, like other “millennialists,” believed the Second Coming of Christ to be imminent

    • Shaker beliefs emphasized simple living, the communal ownership of all property, equality of the sexes, and strict celibacy (men and women were kept separate and marriage and sex were forbidden)

    • the Shaker communities failed due to the lack of new recruits and the strict rules of celibacy, which prevented growth of the community through natural increase

  • Oneidas (NY)

    • John Humphrey Noyes formed the Oneida Community in upstate NY in 1848

    • the community was dedicated to perfect social and economic equality; they shared everything, including property and spouses (“complex marriage”)

    • their strange sexual practices were criticized as a form of “free love”

    • Noyes experimented with selective reproduction (“stirpiculture”), hoping to create morally-perfect children

    • upon disbanding around 1880, some members of community reorganized and began producing fine silverware that was still sold until recently

  • Brook Farm (MA)

    • Brook Farm was founded by Protestant minister George Ripley in 1841 with the goal of creating a “more natural union between intellectual and manual labor”

    • it was a communal experiment based on transcendentalist ideals, emphasizing time for conversation, meditation, communion with nature, and artistic activity

    • many intellectuals (including Emerson, Hawthorne, Margaret Fuller) lived there

Antebellum Literature

  • Transcendentalism

    • transcendentalism was both a literary and philosophical movement; the American version of the romanticism that swept Europe in the early 19c, challenging the Enlightenment’s rationalism and materialism

    • transcendentalists looked for new ways of thinking and discovering one’s inner-self

    • sought God through nature, or a oneness with the universe and forces of nature

    • they were highly individualistic and often rejected organized institutions (religion, government, capitalism)

    • transcendentalists supported many of the reform movements of the era, especially abolition

  • Transcendentalists

    • Ralph Waldo Emerson – essayist (“Nature” and “Self-Reliance”) and lecturer

      • Emerson argued for self-reliance, independent thinking, and spirituality over materialism

      • he became a leading critic of slavery and a strong Union supporter during Civil War

    • Henry David Thoreau – author and essayist

      • after spending two years alone in the woods near Walden Pond (a “utopia of one”), Thoreau wrote Walden (1854), a work of his observations of nature and the truths of life and the universe

      • his essay, “On Civil Disobedience,” advocated nonviolent protest, which he practiced by not paying his taxes in protest of the Mexican War (Thoreau’s ideas later inspired M.L. King’s use of civil disobedience)

    • Margaret Fuller’s Woman in the Nineteenth Century (1845), a classic of 19th-century feminist thought, argued for women’s equality

  • other authors of the period

    • Nathaniel Hawthorne questioned both the idealism of the transcendentalists and other utopians and the conformity of 19th-century American life

      • Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter challenged the legacy of Puritanism and its influence on 19th century revivalism and perfectionism

    • Herman Melville’s Moby Dick reflected the religious and cultural conflicts of era

Reform Turns Radical


  • opponents of slavery varied in their opposition

    • moderates favored gradual emancipation and abolition (see American Colonization Society) and some advocated compensating slave owners for their “loss of property”

    • radicals urged immediate emancipation and opposed any compensation to slaveholders

    • the Second Great Awakening caused many northerners to begin to view slavery as a sin; this limited the possibility of compromise and promoted a more radical abolitionism

  • American Colonization Society (moderate abolitionism)

    • founded in 1817, ACS promoted the idea of transporting freed slaves to an African colony as a solution to the “slave problem”

    • colonization pleased moderates, politicians, and racists who feared that emancipated slaves would start a “race war” in America

    • prominent members and supporters included: Henry Clay, James Madison, James Monroe, Daniel Webster, John Marshall, Roger Taney, Francis Scott Key; at one point in time, both Thomas Jefferson and Abraham Lincoln supported idea of colonization

    • ACS established an African settlement at Monrovia, Liberia, in 1821

    • idea proved impractical as the total number of American slaves grew into the millions during the early 1800s – only 12,000 were ever transported to Liberia

  • William Lloyd Garrison (radical abolitionist)

    • Garrison published an abolitionist newspaper, The Liberator, beginning in 1831

    • he supported the immediate emancipation of slaves, without compensation to their masters, and opposed efforts at colonization elsewhere

      • his denunciations of colonization as immoral helped swing many moderates to abolitionism

    • Garrison used harsh rhetoric and took bold actions to denounce slavery

      • he burned the Constitution, which he claimed was a proslavery document, as an act of protest

      • he even advocated the North’s secession from the slaveholding South

    • in 1833, he founded the American Anti-slavery Society and also supported women’s full inclusion in the abolitionist movement

  • Liberty party

    • organized by those who wanted to make abolition a political, not just a moral, crusade

    • Liberty party ran candidate James G. Birney in 1840 and 1844

  • black abolitionists

    • Frederick Douglass (1818-1895)

      • Douglass was a former slave who escaped and published an autobiography, Narrative of a the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave

      • an early follower of Garrison, Douglass published his own abolitionist paper, The North Star

      • he advocated both political and direct action to end slavery

      • he often consulted with political leaders, including Lincoln

    • radical black abolitionist David Walker’s Appeal to the Colored Citizens of the World (1829) was influential in denouncing slavery and calling on blacks to revolt against their white masters

    • Underground Railroad – a network of primarily black abolitionists who helped slaves escape north to Canada and freedom

      • led by Harriet Tubman, Sojourner Truth, David Ruggles, William Still

      • “conductors” led fugitives from “station” to “station” across the North

      • Congress passed the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850, in large part, to counter the effectiveness of the Underground Railroad

The Cult of Domesticity

  • Republican Motherhood – a concept that emerged out of the American Revolution regarding women’s role in society, especially a new republican society

    • because civic virtue was essential to success of a republic, women (as wives and mothers) were charged with “special task” of instilling these virtues in husbands and sons

    • Republican Motherhood was consistent with women’s “proper sphere” – home and family

    • as a result, some women were able to obtain greater education than earlier generations of women

  • despite the semi-enlightened notion of Republican Motherhood, by the start of the 19c, American women were still denied many of the basic rights of citizens in the new republic:

    • women were largely denied most educational opportunities

    • women were also largely denied economic opportunities, including productive means of employment and property ownership

    • and only NJ allowed women to vote (from 1790 to 1807); however, after 1807, no state granted women the right to vote, until WY Territory did so in 1869

  • The Cult of Domesticity (or Cult of True Womanhood)

    • Cult of Domesticity was the standard view of the role of women in the new, urban, middle-class society that was developing in the United States in the 19c

      • as the center of economic activity in America shifted from the home/farm (where men and women worked together) to the city/factory (where men left women behind at home), the notion of “separate spheres” took root

      • men and women occupied “separate spheres” in society: the man operated in the public sphere of politics and the workplace, while the woman’s sphere was domestic (the home)

      • novels and popular magazines helped celebrate this new role of women in society by sentimentalizing women’s domestic responsibilities

    • similar to the concept of Republican Motherhood, the woman was charged with the special tasks of being the moral, spiritual, and religious leader in the home and the educator of the children

    • the Cult of Domesticity emphasized four main virtues of a “true woman”:

      • piety – women were to be more religious and spiritual than men were

      • purity – women were to be pure in heart, mind, and body (sexual purity)

      • submission – women were to obey men (fathers, husbands), God, and their duty in life

      • domesticity – women were to be caretakers of the home (housewives) and raise children

    • although this appears to have only promoted and rationalized a male-dominated society, by the standards of the evangelical culture, women’s virtues (esp. piety) were seen as superior to men’s

    • furthermore, this “special role” as guardians of moral purity allowed some women to take an active role in public sphere by partaking in many of the Antebellum reform movements

    • finally, while most women aspired to the ideal of “true womanhood,” few women outside the upper- and upper-middle classes had time to attend to the “higher things of life”

Women’s Rights

  • the birth of the women’s rights movement

    • by the 1830s and 1840s, several American women (most notably, Sarah and Angelina Grimké) who were active in abolitionist causes (and whose public words and actions brought them into the “public sphere”) began to agitate for greater rights for women

    • when, in 1840, prominent American female abolitionists were denied participation in World’s Anti-Slavery Convention in London, those women (Lucretia Mott and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, in particular) began to organize a woman’s rights convention

    • Seneca Falls (NY) Convention (1848)

      • delegates issued the Declaration of Sentiments – a document modeled after the Declaration of Independence, it was a statement of men’s mistreatment of women (“all men and women are created equal”)

    • prominent early women’s rights advocates: Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Lucretia Mott, Susan B. Anthony, Lucy Stone

    • despite these initial efforts, the looming Civil War overshadowed the women’s rights issue and postponed any real progress until afterward

Manifest Destiny and the Mexican War

Manifest Destiny

  • Jefferson often spoke or wrote of America as an “empire of liberty” or “empire for liberty”

  • Manifest Destiny

    • the belief US was destined to expand to the Pacific and possibly to include Canada, Mexico, Central and South America (perhaps entire Western Hemisphere)

    • with that expansion of territory, American liberty, democracy, culture, and ideals should be extended to all possible, even if by military conquest and force

    • John L. O’Sullivan coined the phrase in the Democratic Review in 1845, arguing for Texas annexation

  • idea of Manifest Destiny intensified in the first-half of the 19th century as a result of several factors:

    • the nationalist spirit that followed the Revolution and the War of 1812

    • a rapidly growing population, due to both natural reproduction and immigration

    • the reform impulse spawned by the 2GA and Antebellum “perfectionism” that encouraged Americans to improve the lives of others

    • the desire for resources and raw materials to boost the increasingly industrial economy

    • the desire for more land by both northern farmers and southern cotton-growers

  • not all Americans were united behind the desire for expansion; many northerners interpreted the predominantly southern desire for land as a plot to extend slavery (suspicious of expansionists and the “slave power”)

  • Manifest Destiny was the primary issue of the 1840s, and especially the election of 1844


  • TX was a state of Mexico since Mexico won its independence from Spain in 1822

    • US gave up all claims to TX as part of the Adams-Onís Treaty with Spain (1819)

    • US offered to buy TX in 1820s, but was rejected

  • in 1820s, Mexico encouraged Americans to immigrate to Texas to develop this desolate region

  • soon, Americans outnumbered Mexicans 3:1, which Mexico saw as a loss of control to these “gringos;” so Mexico began tightening the laws in Texas

    • slavery was outlawed

    • residents were required to convert to Roman Catholicism

    • immigration from US was limited

  • Texas War of Independence [or Texas Revolution] (1835-1836)

    • in 1836, Americans in TX declared independence from Mexico

    • at the Alamo, Santa Anna (Mexican military dictator) massacred approx. 200 Texans

    • at San Jacinto, Houston defeated Santa Anna and declared victory and independence

  • TX immediately asked US for recognition and annexation, but AJ and MVB rejected because:

    • TX’s admission would reignite the slavery issue, or…

    • it could spark war with Mexico, as Mexico never acknowledged TX’s independence

  • Republic of Texas (1836-1845) was recognized by European nations, who hoped they could trade for cotton in competition with the US

  • Texas annexation (1845)

    • John Tyler attempted to annex TX in 1844, but the Senate rejected the annexation treaty (which required 2/3 majority approval)

    • after the election of 1844 made James K. Polk the next president with an apparent mandate to annex TX, Tyler persuaded Congress to annex TX by joint-resolution (which only required a simple majority)

Election of 1844

  • Democrats:

    • Dems were torn between MVB (their last president) and John Calhoun

    • ultimately, Dems selected a “dark horse” from TN, James K. Polk

      • Polk, a protégé of Andrew Jackson, was nicknamed “Young Hickory”

      • he strongly supported expansion: the annexation of TX, the acquisition of CA, and the control of all of OR (“54*40’ or Fight!”)

  • Whigs:

    • Whigs nominated Henry Clay

    • Clay opposed annexation, but began to waver on the issue and even claimed to support it (under the right circumstances) as the election neared, which cost him critical votes in the North and amongst abolitionists

  • Liberty:

    • Liberty party nominated James G. Birney, abolitionist candidate who won only 2% of PV

    • however, Birney’s votes in NY (which presumably would have gone to Clay if Birney was not an option) cost Clay a very close race in NY and, thus, its pivotal electoral votes (which ultimately meant the election)

  • Polk’s victory was interpreted by some as a mandate for Manifest Destiny

The Oregon Question

  • despite Polk’s belligerent campaign rhetoric (54*40’ or Fight!), he settled for compromise with Britain on the Oregon question

    • with the US at war with Mexico, starting in 1846, many Americans preferred resolution of the Oregon controversy over fighting a two-front war

    • some northerners saw Polk’s willingness to negotiate with Britain (and, in the end, rescind his demand for all of Oregon) as proof that Polk (and the South) only wanted to expand slave territory

  • the Treaty of 1846 divided Oregon at the 49th parallel (similar to the Treaty of 1818 that established much of the US-Canadian border)

Towards War with Mexico

  • Mexico viewed annexation of TX as hostile act (Mexico never recognized Texas’ independence)

  • Slidell Mission

    • Polk sent special envoy John Slidell to Mexico to persuade the Mexican government to:

      • sell the California and New Mexico territories to the US; Mexico refused

      • settle Mexico-Texas border dispute (Mexico insisted border was the Nueces River, which was further north than the US claim of the Rio Grande River)

  • Texas border dispute (April, 1846)

    • Polk ordered Gen. Zachary Taylor to move his army into the disputed territory (across the Nueces River and approaching the Rio Grande River)

    • Mexican army captured an American patrol (which they viewed as “invaders”), killing 11

    • Polk, already preparing for and anticipating war, used the incident to ask Congress for a declaration of war

  • “spot resolutions”

    • northern Whigs opposed a war, and more specifically, Polk’s justification for war (which rested on the claim that the Mexican army had “invaded our territory and shed the blood of our fellow-citizens on our own soil”)

    • Congressman Abraham Lincoln (Whig-IL) challenged Polk to identify the exact “spot” where American blood was spilled on “American” soil

  • Wilmot Proviso (1846)

    • Congressman David Wilmot (Whig-PA), a “free-soiler,” proposed a bill that would forbid slavery in any lands acquired from Mexico as part of the war

    • the bill twice passed the (northern-dominated) House, but was defeated in the Senate

The Mexican War (1846 – 1848)

  • Gen. Stephen Kearney took Santa Fe (NM) and southern CA

  • John C. Fremont used a small force to overthrow Mexican rule in CA; proclaimed CA to be an independent republic, the “Bear Flag Republic”

  • Gen. Zachary Taylor (“Old Rough and Ready”) invaded northern Mexico and won a major victory at Buena Vista

  • Gen. Winfield Scott landed a force on the Gulf coast of central Mexico and won battles at Vera Cruz and eventually captured Mexico City in September 1847

    • despite numerous military defeats, Mexico only reluctantly sued for peace after their defeat at Mexico City

  • Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo (1848)

    • Mexico recognized the Rio Grande River as the southern border of TX

    • the US acquired CA, NM, UT territories (known as the Mexican Cession), for which the US paid $15 million and assumed any American claims against the Mexican government

    • despite ratification of the treaty, there was some opposition

      • some Whigs opposed the treaty because they viewed the war was an immoral effort to extend slavery

      • some Democrats opposed the treaty because they wanted all of Mexico

Consequences of the Mexican War

  • the acquisition of new lands (and the controversy over whether or not slavery would exist there) reignited the sectional debate over slavery and gradually pushed the US closer to civil war

  • the Mexican War provided real war experience for many of the officers who would later fight in the Civil War on both the Union and Confederate sides

  • Mexican War created a deep rift between US and Mexico, which still exists to some degree today

    • US began to develop an image amongst Latin Americans as the “Colossus of the North”

Unit 4: Antebellum America 25 October 2012

Download 229.88 Kb.

Share with your friends:

The database is protected by copyright © 2022
send message

    Main page