How did Southerners think about slaves?

Remington 1858

Private
Joined
Dec 1, 2020
When I posted, I thought I was one of the first ones to do so. Then I saw there had been 2 pages of discussion. It was a quick post—as are most of posts I make on my iPhone— and I was really reacting to the 3rd point of the original post.
I was referring to a love for their state and homes and a willingness to serve.
The original post seemed to accept today’s modern view that the Southern people hated slavery and this prevented them for rallying to the call to arms.
First, Helper wrote five other books, three of which were extremely racist and unleashed intense hatred towards the Negro race. His writings contained rational, progressive, and farsighted viewpoints and ideas as well as irrationalities and illogical ideas which sometimes sounded like the ravings of a maniac.
After about 1890 Helper spent most of his time in Washington, D.C. His wife became blind and returned to South America with their son. Helper's mental instability worsened and he eventually committed suicide.
I agree that peer pressure made critizism of slavery impossible in most cases but it was not the majority or even close. It is because of the majority that you could not speak out without reprecussions.
how do we judge a group, any group ? By the actions of each individual? No by the way the majority behave and their commonalities .
” I was referring to a love for their state and homes and a willingness to serve.” I do not doubt their bravery and their willingness to serve. They did not serve the USA though and violated the constitution regardless of whether secession was legal or not. The constitution provided relief through legislation. The constitutional troubles were created because the south used slave labor that only counted as 3/5 and they did not want immigrations and they knew the math would lose Congress for them. So they needed more slave states to keep up. Slavery could not be contained in the south if the south was to have power in congress. So their patriotism was either to the Bible and the message from the pulpit or independence as traitors to the USA through armed revolt. IMO
 

Piedone

Corporal
Joined
Oct 8, 2020
Sorry but I do not find southern antebellum society an enigma. It is pretty straight forward and in many cases documented by law. The declarations of secession are self explanatory and precise. While there were slave revolts I do not remember hearing of southern non slave owning whites revolting .
It´s interesting that our point of view is seemingly so different.
I always found it hard to come to a picture of the South which I could perceive as being coherent.

It took me years to clear away all that rubble of idealisation and glorification the "Lost Cause"-myth had left.
But on the other hand I always cherished southern literature which made it unlikely (albeit to me) to identify all of the South as a society of heartless, bigot slave-masters or wannabe-slavemasters.

Regarding a revolt of the non-slave-owning class of the South:
we have many soldiers going AWOL, we have deserters, about 200.000 Southerners joining the Union forces, we have "freestate communities", we have West Virginia...the southern society was seemingly not that consolidated - but somehow rather splintered.

Regarding the declarations of secession etc. I found I a link to a very interesting lecture by Gordon Rhea:
https://web.archive.org/web/2011032.../civil-war-overview/why-non-slaveholding.html
He clearly shows that the slave-holding class in the South used all of their influence on politics and the clergy and went to any lengths to hammer the idea of slavery being morally, religiously and prudently above all critic in everybody´s heads.
He defines South Carolina eg. as kind of a police state where any discussion on slavery was virtually made impossible by force.
Why should anybody make such of an effort if all Southerners anyway were stout supporters of slavery?

Those that moved for the most part only wanted to increase their chances of improving their condition which often meant getting land and buying slaves. If you grew cotton you needed slaves,
While I am quite agreeing with you that a lot of people in the antebellum South thought that way - I am still pleading for a more nuanced view: In the upper South eg it had become near impossible to make a profit with growing cotton on the base of slave labour (as the soil was mostoften already depleted).

I am not schooled enough to support my interpretation with more historical facts.
It´s just that from a pure personal view I cannot see owning slaves as being a viable or acceptable option to everybody.
You had of course to display brutality and aggressiveness to a certain degree if you wanted to profit from slave labour.
Even if the clergy told you that this was absolutely fine, morally acceptable and even necessary for "elevating a menially race" - I doubt that EVERYBODY felt okay with that (there WERE Southerners who could have afforded to buy slaves and didn´t do it - why?).

But I am pretty sure that the bigger part of them at least ignored the deep inhumanity of slavery - and I am also absolutely sure that the clergy, the politics and the influencing of public opinion via newspapers made it very easy to ignore the realities.
You just had to avoid to take a closer look at the big plantations (which wouldn´t have been easy anyway regarding the suppression of critical literature and the impossibility to just visit such a plantation out of curiosity...) and slave markets and you could get quite easily through your day.

I cannot bring anything into the field to support that impression but a comparison with the present:
A lot of people (here in Germany) do somehow know how absloutely infuriating the working conditions in our slaughtering yards are - but everybody likes cheap meat, the workers are from foreign countries (and only a fracture of the population) and you can always believe the managers when they are telling you that everything in their yards is just fine (which they of course always do...).
But most people would definitely not be able to exploit and suppress foreign workers - and they are duly shocked when eg. seeing a film about the repulsive conditions in the yards.

Does that make any sense?
 

Rhea Cole

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Nov 2, 2019
Location
Murfreesboro, Tennessee
I am not sure what you mean ? Walker was yet another southern attempt to change the direction and push the envelope of containment in the south. The south wanted to expand but with southerners and their slaves.
Walker was from England, my point is that the reason South Carolinian gave for expanding slave-holding territory was very different from that of Tennesseans who went to Texas, for example. There was no united “Southern” policy that was pursued. In fact, when it became obvious that the Southwest & the Great Plaines were not going to support slave-holding, protesting the denial of expansion was nothing but a propaganda tool.
 
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Rhea Cole

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Nov 2, 2019
Location
Murfreesboro, Tennessee
All across the upper tier of slave-holding states, the institution was no longer a money maker. The cash crop that supported the Virginia that Lee & others revered was human beings. This topic has been covered in detail on CWT before by me & others several times.
 

Piedone

Corporal
Joined
Oct 8, 2020
All across the upper tier of slave-holding states, the institution was no longer a money maker. The cash crop that supported the Virginia that Lee & others revered was human beings. This topic has been covered in detail on CWT before by me & others several times.
Could you please lead me to those threads? I always read that proof for real „slave breeding“ is scarce and tended to the belief that it should have been an exception.
 

unionblue

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Member of the Year
Joined
Feb 20, 2005
Location
Ocala, FL (as of December, 2015).
It´s interesting that our point of view is seemingly so different.
I always found it hard to come to a picture of the South which I could perceive as being coherent.

It took me years to clear away all that rubble of idealisation and glorification the "Lost Cause"-myth had left.
But on the other hand I always cherished southern literature which made it unlikely (albeit to me) to identify all of the South as a society of heartless, bigot slave-masters or wannabe-slavemasters.

Regarding a revolt of the non-slave-owning class of the South:
we have many soldiers going AWOL, we have deserters, about 200.000 Southerners joining the Union forces, we have "freestate communities", we have West Virginia...the southern society was seemingly not that consolidated - but somehow rather splintered.

Regarding the declarations of secession etc. I found I a link to a very interesting lecture by Gordon Rhea:
https://web.archive.org/web/2011032.../civil-war-overview/why-non-slaveholding.html
He clearly shows that the slave-holding class in the South used all of their influence on politics and the clergy and went to any lengths to hammer the idea of slavery being morally, religiously and prudently above all critic in everybody´s heads.
He defines South Carolina eg. as kind of a police state where any discussion on slavery was virtually made impossible by force.
Why should anybody make such of an effort if all Southerners anyway were stout supporters of slavery?


While I am quite agreeing with you that a lot of people in the antebellum South thought that way - I am still pleading for a more nuanced view: In the upper South eg it had become near impossible to make a profit with growing cotton on the base of slave labour (as the soil was mostoften already depleted).

I am not schooled enough to support my interpretation with more historical facts.
It´s just that from a pure personal view I cannot see owning slaves as being a viable or acceptable option to everybody.
You had of course to display brutality and aggressiveness to a certain degree if you wanted to profit from slave labour.
Even if the clergy told you that this was absolutely fine, morally acceptable and even necessary for "elevating a menially race" - I doubt that EVERYBODY felt okay with that (there WERE Southerners who could have afforded to buy slaves and didn´t do it - why?).

But I am pretty sure that the bigger part of them at least ignored the deep inhumanity of slavery - and I am also absolutely sure that the clergy, the politics and the influencing of public opinion via newspapers made it very easy to ignore the realities.
You just had to avoid to take a closer look at the big plantations (which wouldn´t have been easy anyway regarding the suppression of critical literature and the impossibility to just visit such a plantation out of curiosity...) and slave markets and you could get quite easily through your day.

I cannot bring anything into the field to support that impression but a comparison with the present:
A lot of people (here in Germany) do somehow know how absloutely infuriating the working conditions in our slaughtering yards are - but everybody likes cheap meat, the workers are from foreign countries (and only a fracture of the population) and you can always believe the managers when they are telling you that everything in their yards is just fine (which they of course always do...).
But most people would definitely not be able to exploit and suppress foreign workers - and they are duly shocked when eg. seeing a film about the repulsive conditions in the yards.

Does that make any sense?
@Piedone ,

You have posted an excellent and well thought out post above with many interesting and informative points. I enjoyed reading it.

Here's hoping you continue to make such thoughtful posts in the future. They can only benefit the membership here and make them think along other paths and views.

Sincerely,
Unionblue
 

Remington 1858

Private
Joined
Dec 1, 2020
It´s interesting that our point of view is seemingly so different.
I always found it hard to come to a picture of the South which I could perceive as being coherent.

It took me years to clear away all that rubble of idealisation and glorification the "Lost Cause"-myth had left.
But on the other hand I always cherished southern literature which made it unlikely (albeit to me) to identify all of the South as a society of heartless, bigot slave-masters or wannabe-slavemasters.

Regarding a revolt of the non-slave-owning class of the South:
we have many soldiers going AWOL, we have deserters, about 200.000 Southerners joining the Union forces, we have "freestate communities", we have West Virginia...the southern society was seemingly not that consolidated - but somehow rather splintered.

Regarding the declarations of secession etc. I found I a link to a very interesting lecture by Gordon Rhea:
https://web.archive.org/web/2011032.../civil-war-overview/why-non-slaveholding.html
He clearly shows that the slave-holding class in the South used all of their influence on politics and the clergy and went to any lengths to hammer the idea of slavery being morally, religiously and prudently above all critic in everybody´s heads.
He defines South Carolina eg. as kind of a police state where any discussion on slavery was virtually made impossible by force.
Why should anybody make such of an effort if all Southerners anyway were stout supporters of slavery?


While I am quite agreeing with you that a lot of people in the antebellum South thought that way - I am still pleading for a more nuanced view: In the upper South eg it had become near impossible to make a profit with growing cotton on the base of slave labour (as the soil was mostoften already depleted).

I am not schooled enough to support my interpretation with more historical facts.
It´s just that from a pure personal view I cannot see owning slaves as being a viable or acceptable option to everybody.
You had of course to display brutality and aggressiveness to a certain degree if you wanted to profit from slave labour.
Even if the clergy told you that this was absolutely fine, morally acceptable and even necessary for "elevating a menially race" - I doubt that EVERYBODY felt okay with that (there WERE Southerners who could have afforded to buy slaves and didn´t do it - why?).

But I am pretty sure that the bigger part of them at least ignored the deep inhumanity of slavery - and I am also absolutely sure that the clergy, the politics and the influencing of public opinion via newspapers made it very easy to ignore the realities.
You just had to avoid to take a closer look at the big plantations (which wouldn´t have been easy anyway regarding the suppression of critical literature and the impossibility to just visit such a plantation out of curiosity...) and slave markets and you could get quite easily through your day.

I cannot bring anything into the field to support that impression but a comparison with the present:
A lot of people (here in Germany) do somehow know how absloutely infuriating the working conditions in our slaughtering yards are - but everybody likes cheap meat, the workers are from foreign countries (and only a fracture of the population) and you can always believe the managers when they are telling you that everything in their yards is just fine (which they of course always do...).
But most people would definitely not be able to exploit and suppress foreign workers - and they are duly shocked when eg. seeing a film about the repulsive conditions in the yards.

Does that make any sense?
I don’t want a spaghetti post but I want to address each point. I might miss one.
the first thing , and it seems to be in each point .... I made a point out of saying “the majority” not everybody. But the majority make the laws and if you can’t live with them you move, revolt, or keep your mouth shut and make the best of it.
I really don’t think we are that far apart except that I give no quarter to the antebellum, war time, or postbellum
jim crow south. I except and am very disappointed that the north was probably just as racist but take heart in the fact that they gave up slavery voluntarily and economics played a big role, or never were slave states. They had the better idea of power nation building.
as regards your comments about non-slave owning white people revolting I was talking about before the war. Where were the southern abolitionists then ? Probably headed north , tarred and feathered, or hanging from a tree. These things were done by the local gentry.
I agree with Rhea but I do not understand what you meant by effort. Who’s effort ? For what ? All southerners were not pro-slavery but most were. The voting majority make laws and if I am not mistaken it was not a secret ballot. Again peer pressure or worse. But the fact remains the laws got passed, new states were added, Alabama, mississippi, Arkansas, etc. which southerner stood up in congress and said “no” ? Why weren’t southern congressmen flooded with complaints to the point that they might not get re-elected ?
the north HAD slavery in many parts. how did they get rid of it ? And why ? Certainly they were racist enough, at least in many parts. But what were they hearing from the pulpit ? Freedom for all . God’s plan. Salvation through Christ for themselves not forced salvation of others through Caesar’s pocket.
the border states were not just slave users such as those from Kentucky working the salt works in Illinois, they were slave exporters and made so much money sending slaves south that we have the expression “sold down the River”. The larger concentrations of slaves were in the Deep South and for the most part never saw snow. South Carolina‘s white population was in the minority. You will have to explain what you were trying to get at. I think their declaration was pretty clear.
I think we are in agreement on the rest.
 
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Remington 1858

Private
Joined
Dec 1, 2020
Walker was from England, my point is that the reason South Carolinian gave for expanding slave-holding territory was very different from that of Tennesseans who went to Texas, for example. There was no united “Southern” policy that was pursued. In fact, when it became obvious that the Southwest & the Great Plaines were not going to support slave-holding, protesting the denial of expansion was nothing but a propaganda tool.
Walker’s parents were English immigrants (weren’t most of our ancestors of the time ) but he was born in Nashville. For the rest you will have to explain. Tennesseans went to Texas to grow cotton. They were not Spanish citizens but rather a sort of guest, much like Brazil after the war. When Mexico got it’s independence from Spain it outlawed slavery to get the anglos to leave. They did not and most if not all were southerners and Texas became a new slave state. You are correct that they worn out the soil but that was not unique to SC. That is precisely why the south needed more land, and also indicates their greed. Plant it all and if the yield is low move to new ground. SC was looking for a way to get around the confinement and transportation to inland markets was their main endeavor. But it was all about cotton, slavery, and white supremacy.
I never claimed the south had a united conspiracy but they all wanted the same thing. It was their disunion that elected Lincoln and lost the war.
 
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Remington 1858

Private
Joined
Dec 1, 2020
It´s interesting that our point of view is seemingly so different.
I always found it hard to come to a picture of the South which I could perceive as being coherent.

It took me years to clear away all that rubble of idealisation and glorification the "Lost Cause"-myth had left.
But on the other hand I always cherished southern literature which made it unlikely (albeit to me) to identify all of the South as a society of heartless, bigot slave-masters or wannabe-slavemasters.

Regarding a revolt of the non-slave-owning class of the South:
we have many soldiers going AWOL, we have deserters, about 200.000 Southerners joining the Union forces, we have "freestate communities", we have West Virginia...the southern society was seemingly not that consolidated - but somehow rather splintered.

Regarding the declarations of secession etc. I found I a link to a very interesting lecture by Gordon Rhea:
https://web.archive.org/web/2011032.../civil-war-overview/why-non-slaveholding.html
He clearly shows that the slave-holding class in the South used all of their influence on politics and the clergy and went to any lengths to hammer the idea of slavery being morally, religiously and prudently above all critic in everybody´s heads.
He defines South Carolina eg. as kind of a police state where any discussion on slavery was virtually made impossible by force.
Why should anybody make such of an effort if all Southerners anyway were stout supporters of slavery?


While I am quite agreeing with you that a lot of people in the antebellum South thought that way - I am still pleading for a more nuanced view: In the upper South eg it had become near impossible to make a profit with growing cotton on the base of slave labour (as the soil was mostoften already depleted).

I am not schooled enough to support my interpretation with more historical facts.
It´s just that from a pure personal view I cannot see owning slaves as being a viable or acceptable option to everybody.
You had of course to display brutality and aggressiveness to a certain degree if you wanted to profit from slave labour.
Even if the clergy told you that this was absolutely fine, morally acceptable and even necessary for "elevating a menially race" - I doubt that EVERYBODY felt okay with that (there WERE Southerners who could have afforded to buy slaves and didn´t do it - why?).

But I am pretty sure that the bigger part of them at least ignored the deep inhumanity of slavery - and I am also absolutely sure that the clergy, the politics and the influencing of public opinion via newspapers made it very easy to ignore the realities.
You just had to avoid to take a closer look at the big plantations (which wouldn´t have been easy anyway regarding the suppression of critical literature and the impossibility to just visit such a plantation out of curiosity...) and slave markets and you could get quite easily through your day.

I cannot bring anything into the field to support that impression but a comparison with the present:
A lot of people (here in Germany) do somehow know how absloutely infuriating the working conditions in our slaughtering yards are - but everybody likes cheap meat, the workers are from foreign countries (and only a fracture of the population) and you can always believe the managers when they are telling you that everything in their yards is just fine (which they of course always do...).
But most people would definitely not be able to exploit and suppress foreign workers - and they are duly shocked when eg. seeing a film about the repulsive conditions in the yards.

Does that make any sense
this is from wiki. It has multiple sources. It counts about 100,000 Southern unionists , about a million men served in the confederate army. This does not include slaves workers or the navy.
There were no black Confederate combat units in service during the war and no documentation whatsoever exists for any black man being paid or pensioned as a Confederate soldier, although some did receive pensions for their work as laborers. 200,000 served in the union army and navy. Wiki cites that the population of southern states (I think they exclude Missouri and Kentucky) in 1860 was just over 9 million , of which just under 4 million were slaves, which puts the white population at about 5 million. So out of 5 million , 100,000 had a conscious. If the population was higher it just makes it worse.
southern society was splintered with each state competing with every other state, but they each wanted the same thing for their state. And really you can throw around seemingly big numbers and point in all these directions and say “see, what about these one , or these ones, etc. and it sounds right but look at ALL the numbers and you see super-majority of support for the southern cause. And what was the southern cause ? What was behind every argument the south presented, whether state’s rights or territorial expansion or even Lincoln’s election, slavery and cotton.


State​
White soldiers serving
in the Union Army
(other branches unlisted)
Alabama3,000
Arkansas[4][10]10,000
Florida3,500
Georgia400
Louisiana7,000
Mississippi545
North Carolina25,000
Tennessee42,000
Texas2,200
Virginia and
West Virginia
22,000[11]

I know I’m new here but I keep feeling like the comments are gotcha questions. If I’m wrong about something or am ignorant of something please just say so and tell me why. I probably won’t agree but I might.
 

Piedone

Corporal
Joined
Oct 8, 2020
I know I’m new here but I keep feeling like the comments are gotcha questions. If I’m wrong about something or am ignorant of something please just say so and tell me why. I probably won’t agree but I might.
You are absolutely right - I am just presenting some ideas and do indeed regard them as questions - hoping for more input.
I feel we currently see a decisive transition of the picture of the South.
I mean it took modern DNA-analysis to proof that miscegenation happened to an almost unbelievable extent - whereof we only had some intimations in 19th century letters before whose interpretation everybody could bend in one or the other direction.

You will have to explain what you were trying to get at.
The point is I somehow got the impression that this transition is eventually falling into another extreme, depicting the southern society as a profoundly corrupted, inhuman system where everybody exploited black people to any extent and without any guilty conscience or at least had absolutely no problem with knowing that such exploitation happened.

But I do not believe in monochrome pictures of societies.

Your post #29 seems very convincing to me - although I find it still remarkable that 10% of the recruits choose to fight on the side of "the enemy" (as such a choice brought them most probably despise and scorn in their home communities especially after the struggle became desperate and destructive).
I suppose there could have been even more people who considered such a move but shrinked from it (because of that).

But that´s also not the point I am trying to get to (you have proven that allegiance to the Confederacy was high).

I am suggesting:
1) that atrocious exploitation happened chiefly on the plantations
2) that being the owner of many slaves made individuals often prone to brutality and disdain against negroes
3) that the very same people held the most distinguished and influential position in their communities (for that reason alone that they were people of extreme richness in rather poor communities)
But that would IMHO only be a appropriate picture of the plantation society of the Deep South (explaining the negligible proportion of Union soldiers from Georgia, Mississippi and South Carolina eg.)

There were far amplier middle classes in the Upper South whose economical situation increasingly deteriorated because of slavery.
I´d ask if those people really had insight into the dire situation on plantations?
I´d ask if those people could have been influenced from their local experience with freedmen, home-servants and leased-out slaves who floated relatively free in the daily routine of their everyday life (Olmsted eg. was somehow impressed how confident such blacks behaved in society especially in southern cities).
I´d ask if their views on slavery were heavily shaped by a tremendous and increasingly hysterical propaganda effort initiated by the most influential slave-owning class (who - albeit to me - very well knew that "the institution" was fighting a loosing battle against an increasing moral consciousness especially in the North and therefore worked towards secession).

Don´t we have collections of letters of such people?

How could we detect what they thought about the conditions of life of black people?
 
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Remington 1858

Private
Joined
Dec 1, 2020
You are absolutely right - I am just presenting some ideas and do indeed regard them as questions - hoping for more input.
I feel we currently see a decisive transition of the picture of the South.
I mean it took modern DNA-analysis to proof that miscegenation happened to an almost unbelievable extent - whereof we only had some intimations in 19th century letters before whose interpretation everybody could bend in one or the other direction.


The point is I somehow got the impression that this transition is eventually falling into another extreme, depicting the southern society as a profoundly corrupted, inhuman system where everybody exploited black people to any extent and without any guilty conscience or at least had absolutely no problem with knowing that such exploitation happened.

But I do not believe in monochrome pictures of societies.

Your post #29 seems very convincing to me - although I find it still remarkable that 10% of the recruits choose to fight on the side of "the enemy" (as such a choice brought them most probably despise and scorn in their home communities especially after the struggle became desperate and destructive).
I suppose there could have been even more people who considered such a move but shrinked from it (because of that).

But that´s also not the point I am trying to get to (you have proven that allegiance to the Confederacy was high).

I am suggesting:
1) that atrocious exploitation happened chiefly on the plantations
2) that being the owner of many slaves made individuals often prone to brutality and disdain against negroes
3) that the very same people held the most distinguished and influential position in their communities (for that reason alone that they were people of extreme richness in rather poor communities)
But that would IMHO only be a appropriate picture of the plantation society of the Deep South (explaining the negligible proportion of Union soldiers from Georgia, Mississippi and South Carolina eg.)

There were far amplier middle classes in the Upper South whose economical situation increasingly deteriorated because of slavery.
I´d ask if those people really had insight into the dire situation on plantations?
I´d ask if those people could have been influenced from their local experience with freedmen, home-servants and leased-out slaves who floated relatively free in the daily routine of their everyday life (Olmsted eg. was somehow impressed how confident such blacks behaved in society especially in southern cities).
I´d ask if their views on slavery were heavily shaped by a tremendous and increasingly hysterical propaganda effort initiated by the most influential slave-owning class (who - albeit to me - very well knew that "the institution" was fighting a loosing battle against an increasing moral consciousness especially in the North and therefore worked towards secession).

Don´t we have collections of letters of such people?

How could we detect what they thought about the conditions of life of black people?
you have given me something to think about I will respond later.
 

Remington 1858

Private
Joined
Dec 1, 2020
you have given me something to think about I will respond later.
I think we can never know at the individual level what people thought but I also believe we are basically all the same. Some of believe one thing and some another and it is as varied as the spectrum of light. Some of us are good and some bad etc.
we have documents such as official , newspapers, and letters, but these are not necessarily representative of the population and except for letters do not reach the individual level. Many people of the day were not even literate. So we judge the antebellum south, confederacy, and Jim Crow periods of southern social history as a group. As a group in elections, individuals vote to determine for the group and that is about as far as we can go with and any certainty. the only other place I can think of is church, north and south, and what they were told, I assume they believed .
so at the individual level I think we are all the same with our differences. We might believe different things but we have a sameness in how we got there. In many cases northern and southern folks might have the exact same opinions and beliefs.
as a society and culture we were miles apart. Even today.
I just rewatched a penn and teller vid about vaccines. They used a clever visual way to demonstrate the effectiveness vs complications. When it was done you were left with one side having 90% of these pins that represented children, knocked over while the other side had one pin knocked over. They asked which side do you want your kid on ? So my answer to this thread is whatever they thought in the south , I would have picked to live in the north.
 

Piedone

Corporal
Joined
Oct 8, 2020
I would have picked to live in the north.
Now that made me think. In another thread @wausabob explained how fluid the population in the US in the 19th century was (with Kentucky eg. loosing quite over 200.000 citizens). He somehow convinced me that everybody who didn´t feel happy with slavery could and did move away from the South, especially from the Deep South.

I still do believe that the situation in the Upper South was different - but if one only considered how unhealthy the climate in the Deep South was (I read about New Orleans in DeLeon, Five Years in Rebel Capitals, where everybody not wealthy enough to leave the place in summer feared deadly fevers) everybody should have known what fate slaves awaited there after some years.
So yes...I think it has to be accepted that probably most Southerners knew what plantation slavery meant (even if they were not aware of all the terrific details).
 

Remington 1858

Private
Joined
Dec 1, 2020
Now that made me think. In another thread @wausabob explained how fluid the population in the US in the 19th century was (with Kentucky eg. loosing quite over 200.000 citizens). He somehow convinced me that everybody who didn´t feel happy with slavery could and did move away from the South, especially from the Deep South.

I still do believe that the situation in the Upper South was different - but if one only considered how unhealthy the climate in the Deep South was (I read about New Orleans in DeLeon, Five Years in Rebel Capitals, where everybody not wealthy enough to leave the place in summer feared deadly fevers) everybody should have known what fate slaves awaited there after some years.
So yes...I think it has to be accepted that probably most Southerners knew what plantation slavery meant (even if they were not aware of all the terrific details).
the Deep South was fine, it was the coastal and swamp south that was killing folks.
If you know about details like climate conditions I shouldn’t have to point this out.
It was lucrative for slave owners to sell their slaves to the deep south, shipping approximately 80,000 Africans southward between 1830 and 1860. Lexington was a central city in the state for the slave trade.
It was not infrequent for slaves to be "hired out," leased on temporary basis to other farmers or business for seasonal work. This was a common practice across the upper south.
Kentucky exported more slaves than did most states. From 1850 to 1860, 16 percent of enslaved African Americans were sold out of state, as part of the forced displacement to the Deep South of a total of more than a million African Americans before the Civil War. Many slaves were sold directly to plantations in the Deep South from the Louisville slave market, or were transported by slave traders along the Ohio and Mississippi rivers to slave markets in New Orleans, hence the later euphemism "sold down the river" for any sort of betrayal. Kentucky had a surplus of slaves due to reduced labor needs from changes in local agriculture, as well as substantial out-migration by white families from Kentucky. many white families migrated west to Missouri, south to Tennessee, or southwest to Texas. The larger slave-holding families took slaves with them, as one kind of forced migration. In Kentucky, slavery was not as integral to the economy as it developed in the Deep South. The small-farm nature of much of Kentucky meant that slave labor was not so critical to profits as it was for the labor-intensive crops of the Deep South, such as cotton, sugar, and rice farming. But Louisville became a major slave market, which generated considerable profits.
A highly efficient interstate slave trade compensated for the absence of a free labor market, moving tens of thousands of slaves across the South every decade; it allowed planters to sell their surplus slaves without difficulty or to purchase more slaves with similar ease. Each plantation was like a small village owned by one family. That family lived in a large house, usually facing a river. Many separate buildings were needed on a plantation. For example, a building was needed for cooking. And buildings were needed for workers to produce goods such as furniture that were used on the plantation. There were artisans , many black, on plantations. people who were rich enough to own many slaves became leaders in their local areas. They were members of the local governments. They attended meetings of the legislatures in the capitals of their colonies, usually two times a year. Slave owners had the time and the education to greatly influence political life in the southern colonies...because the hard work on their farms was done by slaves. The local plantation was the social and political center of most locals. Towns sprung up around plantations , not the other way around. Many plantations had no town near by. Life was centered around the plantation not the town. They made what they needed or imported it so all they needed was a boat landing. People leaving Kentucky were headed to Missouri, Tennessee , and Texas, all slave states. The upper south was the same as the rest only it exploited slaves in different ways, and profited greatly from Interstate slave trading and out hiring. John Hart Crenshaw devised a plan to begin a slave-breeding program in his attic. A slave named Uncle Bob was used as the stud breeder to provide Crenshaw with cargo to sell off to the south. A pregnant black woman would bring more money at auction in a slave state. An adult able-bodied slave could bring $400 or more. A child could be sold for around $200. It was said that Uncle Bob sired more than 300 children in that upstairs attic.
Kentucky did not secede but kept slavery, why ? My guess is that they could assimilate to either side if necessary. Keep all options open and no burned bridges. Money, money, money,moneeeeey ! The upper south wasn’t better if anything in some respects it was worse.
 
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19thGeorgia

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Apr 4, 2017
There were no black Confederate combat units in service during the war and no documentation whatsoever exists for any black man being paid or pensioned as a Confederate soldier, although some did receive pensions for their work as laborers....

I know I’m new here but I keep feeling like the comments are gotcha questions. If I’m wrong about something or am ignorant of something please just say so and tell me why. I probably won’t agree but I might.
CWT has a forum for the subject of black Confederates-

https://civilwartalk.com/forums/the-legend-of-black-confederates.244/
https://civilwartalk.com/threads/co...vice-records-of-black-and-mulatto-men.142783/
https://civilwartalk.com/threads/bl...se-what-the-newspapers-said-1861-1865.129911/
 

Piedone

Corporal
Joined
Oct 8, 2020
Money, money, money,moneeeeey !
Yep, I deem it one of the principal driving forces of men.

But we should regard that those times probably were a lot harder than ours. I am currently reading Sebastian Barry "Days without End" who depicts the 1850s / 1860s as a world where many ordinary people lived next door to poverty.
Some false decisions or some bad weather sufficed probably to destroy a farm or somebody´s live.
Seems somehow understandable to me that people under such conditions not always chose the most moral decisions and eg. sold their black farmhand "down the river" (although they knew what it meant - and maybe did it with regret).
[I am not talking of the people who traded with slaves as their profession]

What about moving away?

Now I read somewhere that even black freedmen and their families often stayed in slave states (in spite of being permanently endangered there) - as they shrinked from an unfamiliar environment where they couldn´t estimate the dangers awaiting them.

And as a lot of the people in most of the southern states were often rather poor, unlettered and dependant on their regional communities maybe they just tried to come to terms with their environment as best as they could?
And didn´t bother much about the life conditions of black people?
Or deemed them not THAT much different from their own?
Or somehow rejoiced in being that one decisive rung higher on the ladder of society?
Or all of these points came together though people nonetheless felt some sympathy for black people in their communities - especially when their lives got destroyed by a nasty mood of their "owners"?

But you are absolutely right: we cannot read in their minds.
And - of course - I myself would have followed the tracks of Mark Twain - can´t see how the South of the 19th century could have been a lucky place (excluding SOME people who profiteered from the system excessively....)
 

Remington 1858

Private
Joined
Dec 1, 2020
Yep, I deem it one of the principal driving forces of men.

But we should regard that those times probably were a lot harder than ours. I am currently reading Sebastian Barry "Days without End" who depicts the 1850s / 1860s as a world where many ordinary people lived next door to poverty.
Some false decisions or some bad weather sufficed probably to destroy a farm or somebody´s live.
Seems somehow understandable to me that people under such conditions not always chose the most moral decisions and eg. sold their black farmhand "down the river" (although they knew what it meant - and maybe did it with regret).
[I am not talking of the people who traded with slaves as their profession]

What about moving away?

Now I read somewhere that even black freedmen and their families often stayed in slave states (in spite of being permanently endangered there) - as they shrinked from an unfamiliar environment where they couldn´t estimate the dangers awaiting them.

And as a lot of the people in most of the southern states were often rather poor, unlettered and dependant on their regional communities maybe they just tried to come to terms with their environment as best as they could?
And didn´t bother much about the life conditions of black people?
Or deemed them not THAT much different from their own?
Or somehow rejoiced in being that one decisive rung higher on the ladder of society?
Or all of these points came together though people nonetheless felt some sympathy for black people in their communities - especially when their lives got destroyed by a nasty mood of their "owners"?

But you are absolutely right: we cannot read in their minds.
And - of course - I myself would have followed the tracks of Mark Twain - can´t see how the South of the 19th century could have been a lucky place (excluding SOME people who profiteered from the system excessively....)
I am not so sure that life was harder. Then a person had the ability to be self sufficient and live off the land. Today a person can not even lie down without the risk of being rousted or jailed for vagrancy. Every drop of land is owned by soembody. Water is not free. Etc.
many ordinary people live next to and in poverty today and have legal restrictions that prevent them from taking charge and improving their condition.
maybe people had regret but there is little evidence of that.
blacks did stay in the south because they were not welcomed in the north and in many cases could not take residence there. The underground RR did not end in the northern US but in Canada. They had no skills except agriculture , especially cotton cultivation, and were almost exclusively illiterate. And they had no way of knowing what lay beyond. That is pretty intimidating. I do not have stats but I believe free blacks in slave states was rather rare. I think you are confusing antebellum and reconstruction times.
I think you hit a nerve with the one rung higher on the ladder and I think that and the fact that some labor was considered unfit for whites might have made poor whites harder on slaves than an owner would. a Slave holder had a vested interest in his property where a starving white person seeing a slave being well fed would feel resentment. Not that slaves were necessarily well fed but perception is everything. The slave was alive and able to work while some poor dirt eater was dying of malnutrition.
we can’t all be a mark twain but the south was lucky enough for him, not so much for his brother. His family had owned a slave and his uncle , where he spent summers, owned 20 when he was a boy and he enlisted in a confederate unit, for two weeks. But he moved and seldom came back and died a yankee. He might have been sympathic to blacks as a youth and was outspoken against slavery as a writer he did little else except be such a writer that most folks have read some of his work. I think Twain was conflicted for most of his life and viewed slavery as abhorrent as practiced but benevolent in a idealistic way. He liked to use the n word which you might blow off as the language of the day but i also heard the same thing from almost everyone as a youth in the 50s and 60s. So I don’t believe he saw blacks as equals but as a lower caste deserving sympathy and benevolence.
 

Piedone

Corporal
Joined
Oct 8, 2020
To begin with I´d like to say how intriguing this conversation is to me - especially as we have partially different views your responses give me always something to think.

I think you are confusing antebellum and reconstruction times.
Maybe not - I am referring to (among others)
https://www.theroot.com/why-did-free-blacks-stay-in-the-old-south-1790897284
Well, after reading something about the freedmen in the South I accidentally came upon the census of Virginia of 1860 where the data showed (not only a few) black carpenters, smiths, barbers etc. - I think I also read it in another thread that outside of the cotton 7 a relevant part of slaves did skilled work .

While I am absolutely with you regarding the appalling situation of poor people in our days (those things really shouldn´t exist at all regarding a gross national product of about 40.000 dollars per capita...)
- I would like to bring in two points:

1) life expectancy in the US was 39 years in 1880 where it is now about 80 years.

2) Surely one could then live (largely) from the land - but this required a certain amount of land of decent quality for each person of a homestead. While I am not familiar with the situation in the US in the 1850s/1860s in regard of how easy one could get some land in the territories, I remember descriptions of Olmsted about his visits on some farms (and even plantations) in Va and NCa which somehow puzzled me because the life conditions there seemed to have been rather miserable sometimes.

From what I´ve read eg. in Mark Twain I also got the impression that ordinary people in the South (with some exceptions) lived a modest live (at best). I think that leaving the place - like he did - was the most advisable option - especially when the war started (but you probably had to live with the condemnation of all of your friends and acquaintances for the rest of your life...)

About his attitude towards black people you are absolutely right.
From our point of view he demonstrated quite obviously a condescending and racist attitude!
But you mentioned that certain benevolence - which I am also constantly reading between the lines of his writings.
Would it be naive to think that more people in the South thought that way?
That´s exactly the point that is bothering me.
If those people existed (and were of a certain benevolence) - how could they get along with the knowledge about what atrocious things could happen to blacks in their society?

But now let me wish you a merry christmas - and I do hope we can continue that interesting exchange of ideas soon.
 
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