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An outstanding book review! The best source of which I know, (no strong recommendation), regarding the problems of slavery in the USA is Half Slave and Half Free the roots of Civil War by Bruce Levine. He portrays the same situation as Goodwin but makes the point that the chief sources of animosity by Northeners over slavery derived from two factors: first were laws making all US citizens responsible for assisting slave owners in the capture and return of fugitive slaves, which made it impossible for them to just ignore the unpleasant reality of the South's "peculiar institution"; second was the resentment of northern small tradesmen and journeyman workers at having to compete with slave labor.

Another factor he brings out is the extent to which so many Southerners also thought that slavery would die out prior to the rise of King Cotton. Cotton culture gave new life to the institution of slavery and attitudes in the South changed by 1830 or so. And then there was the deep fear amongst the slave holders of a slave revolt of which Haiti was the chief example.

That fear gave context to the extreme brutality with which slaves were treated and the reason they were denied literacy. Levine cites slave owner's manuals, which were popular in the South and uses excerpts to illustrate just how brutal those conditions were. One example was how to deal with an uppity female slave who was in an advanced stage of pregnancy. The owner naturally did not want to endanger the foetus, so the solution was to dig a hole in the ground large enough to accommodate the baby bulge and then have the typical four other slaves each hold a limb while she was beaten bloody.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sun Jan 19th, 2014 at 11:50:08 AM EST
Bruce Levine

Actually, I forgot to credit him in the seed comment as the author of Confederate Emancipation: Southern Plans to Free and Arm Slaves during the Civil War. So that adds to your recommendation.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Sun Jan 19th, 2014 at 11:54:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Needless to say, I had not clicked your link for Confederate Emancipation when I composed my first remark.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Mon Jan 20th, 2014 at 04:25:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
As to Southern Myths, the best source I know is W.J Cash's The Mind of the South. No one knows them like their own.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sun Jan 19th, 2014 at 12:02:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Another interesting discovery in my "supplementary reading" was the root of John Wilkes Booth's pro-confederate and anti-abolition radicalism: the Christiana Riot of 1851.

Christiana was a settlement in Pennsylvania for escaped slaves, including two of four who escaped a Maryland farm two years prior. A guy making his living from tracking down and tipping off escaped slaves found these and informed their owner, who came over from Maryland with a small posse – only to be killed by the locals who were warned and resisted. This led to a trial under the Fugitive Slave Law, which ended with the release of all accused (the one delivering the deadly blow escaped to Canada with Frederick Douglass's help, though). One of the sons of the killed slave-owner was a childhood friend of John Wilkes Booth, who heard the story in a totally twisted version, in which the slaves fled after committing robbery and the owner was in direct pursuit.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Sun Jan 19th, 2014 at 12:24:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Slavery was dying in the late 1700s.  Even with slave labor the labor costs of picking out seeds from the bolls were too high.  That was the argument that finally persuaded Sam Adams, et. al., to drop their demand for abolition during the Constitutional Era.  Otherwise, the United States would have split in the 1790s.  

It took the northern mechanization (irony of ironies) of cotton de-seeding to make slavery pay.  And when that happened it made it impossible to "solve" slavery through political compromise.


She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

by ATinNM on Sun Jan 19th, 2014 at 02:59:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]

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