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Essay/Term paper: Capitalism: the cause of slavery in the american south

Essay, term paper, research paper:  American History

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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 people

to do the work on the farms for them. At first there were indentured servants,

but this system of work only worked for a limited time as these servants would

work their time of servitude and then leave on their own. The American farmer

in the south needed more control on their workers and needed to know that they

( the workers ) weren"t going to just leave

and start up their own farm for

themselves. Thus the manipulation of slave labor became the answer for capitalism,

and from the use of black slave labor, tension began to rise between the slaves

brought from Africa, and the land holders of the South.

Tension between

Slaves and land owners have been strong in the South for many years, and one

might say that the cause of it is the ways of which the Black slaves of plantations

and farms were treated. The founders of the Carolina colonies were not only

interested in the use of slaves in the solution of their labor problems of

too much work not enough workers, but they had a very big material interest.

The use of slave labor, was a coerced, cash-crop system of labor from which

slavery became an economic necessity because for a person who owned land they

needed workers, and these workers were predominantly Negro slaves brought in

sold from Africa. 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 Civil 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 than the realization of worn-out l

ands. 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 social

graces and aristocratic duties." The road of power in the South lay through

the plantation and the Master would see to it that his or her plantation be

the best. Great planters held enormous power in the southern colonies, they

spent much of their free time in leisure, educational pursuits, and participation

in public life; George Washington and Thomas Jefferson both were within this

group of people. Most planters were also very active entrepreneurs, who would

engage in quick profit type situations which would help them make more money

on top of the plantation profits made for them by their slaves. Although their

main means of money and profit was the forced labor unit of slavery on the

plantations, these other quick scheme ideas forced planters into believing

that slave holding was more profitable. Therefore an increase in the amount

of slaves doing work on p

lantations was evident due to its profitability

for planters and farmers and the control on labor. Controlling labor

in the South, became an entity upon which no plantation could survive without.

The Southern Master had many slaves who he expected to do enormous amounts

of work all for the Master"s gain. Consequently a capitalistic lifestyle had

absorbed and encouraged slavery. The resultant fortunes for which Planters

and Farmers had flow into their pockets, was because of slavery and slave-holding.

A small commercial bourgeoisie was created from slavery and the ideology of

capitalism was the root of construction. Perhaps if it weren"t for capitalism

and the expansion by British gentry slavery caused by capitalism would never

have happened. 

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