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GOLDESSAYS

Slavery and Cotton

  1. Paternalism is a form of social relations, which presupposes the strict societal hierarchy and full obedience to the authorities. The term originates from the Latin pater (“father”) and where it described a social system of ancient societies, in which the role of males was crucial. In the nineteenth century, in the United States paternalism reflected the social order and class structure existing mainly in the South (Thompson, 2013). The ideas of paternalism were opposite to the ideas of new capitalistic society. Instead of equality, paternalism stood for the universal hierarchy, it refused liberalism and commercial values. Therefore, the paternalistic believes were the main prerequisite for enduring slavery in the South. Hence, in ancient era paternalism reflected the existing social relations, but in the nineteenth century, it became a conservative conception protecting bondage (Oakes, 2010).

Slaves always resisted the oppression of their masters. The most common forms of protest were sabotage – destroying tools, arson of buildings, pretending to be ill, and slowing down the work on purpose. Those slaves, who were servants sometimes poisoned their owners or tried to kill them in some other manners.

  1. At the end of the eighteenth century, the majority of countries in the world were agrarian, and the US was not an exception. Thus, slaves played an important role in the economy, because using of not paid labor allowed the planters to get an enormous benefit from their households. However, in the first quarter of the nineteenth century, the intensive industrial revolution began all over the Europe, and the US felt the impact of quickly spreading capitalistic values. The industry, free market, and wage workers became the engine of the new economy, instead of the agriculture. Therefore, in the 1850s – 1860s slavery was a critical obstacle on the US path to the modernization both in the spheres of economic and social relations.

  2. Cotton, for a long time, was the main source of wealth in the South. As a matter of fact, in the antebellum period its role had increased. European countries and especially Great Britain needed a great amount of cotton for their developing textile industries. For the Southern States export of cotton was the most effective and vital mean of increasing their revenue. Thus, cotton was so important during the Civil War because its realization could provide the financial basis for the independence of Confederation.