Was Slavery Dying in 1860?

Pat Young

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#41
My question is specifically about the immigration of "free non-whites" in the periods mentioned earlier. I had wondered if the differences were explained through immigration stats, or culture. ie: lower natural reproduction via cultural norms.
I am not aware of any significant migration of free non-whites to the South during this period.
 

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#42
I agree. Its an ideologically driven belief. The war was unnecessary because slavery was about to collapse. You can blame the secessionists for going nuts for a dying institution, or you can blame the abolitionists for being "pests" as you say, for starting all the trouble when slavery was about to go the way of the hulu hoop.

But no one thought it was dying, in 1860.
The debate is ideologically driven. I am not so sure that people in 1860 were thinking that slavery was safe in the modern world.
1. We really don't know why the demand for coerced labor was so high in New Orleans. Expansion in Texas and Arkansas was certainly a factor. But the question arises as to why natural increase was not supplying the labor? What was the demographic status of the black population with respect to infant mortality, malnutrition, and disease in the states near the Mississippi River?
2. What was the distribution of slaves in the US? Was it even or was there a rapidly increasing concentration of slaves in a few favored areas were the soil was infinitely productive? https://lincolnmullen.com/projects/slavery/
3. The political demographics of slavery reflected its basic weakness by the second half of the 19th century. The slave economy repelled European immigration. It did not attract permanent residents from the northern areas, and instead there was a steady trickle of people who sold out and moved north and west. Thus the white population of the south was withdrawing from slavery. There are substantial reasons why Kansas, California and Oregon entered as paid labor states, with substantial free soil Democrat advocates. The demographics of the white population in the south were not able to maintain political power. On top of that, by disenfranchising their working class, southerners were further handicapping their political power by removing 40% of the growth of the population growth of the working class.
 
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#43
The problem is that slavery did not produce enough white adherents to control westward expansion. Iowa was outgrowing Texas, at that point in time. Illinois was the new Virginia. States that tried abolition did not go back to slavery. They found out that immigration and white population growth meant good business and more than enough cheap labor. Therefore, 15 slave states was the most there were ever going to be, and slavery was on shaky ground in Delaware, Maryland and Missouri.
 

matthew mckeon

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#45
The debate is ideologically driven. I am not so sure that people in 1860 were thinking that slavery was safe in the modern world.
1. We really don't know why the demand for coerced labor was so high in New Orleans. Expansion in Texas and Arkansas was certainly a factor. But the question arises as to why natural increase was not supplying the labor? What was the demographic status of the black population with respect to infant mortality, malnutrition, and disease in the states near the Mississippi River?
2. What was the distribution of slaves in the US? Was it even or was there a rapidly increasing concentration of slaves in a few favored areas were the soil was infinitely productive? https://lincolnmullen.com/projects/slavery/
3. The political demographics of slavery reflected its basic weakness by the second half of the 19th century. The slave economy repelled European immigration. It did not attract permanent residents from the northern areas, and instead there was a steady trickle of people who sold out and moved north and west. Thus the white population of the south was withdrawing from slavery. There are substantial reasons why Kansas, California and Oregon entered as paid labor states, with substantial free soil Democrat advocates. The demographics of the white population in the south were not able to maintain political power. On top of that, by disenfranchising their working class, southerners were further handicapping their political power by removing 40% of the growth of the population growth of the working class.
The ideology is all postwar. Which is my point. Certainly secessionists saw slavery as under threat in the United States, but the threat was political. If the slaveowners had their way, slavery would do great.
 
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#46
The problem was that the slave economy had not done anything to transition out of slavery, because that would have cost some money. Therefore the probability was that if the price of cotton sagged, poverty and disease would become the solution to problem of slavery.
 

Carronade

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#47
Given that slavery didn’t die until the 1960’s, and only then after federal intervention was threatened, I’d say it still had quite a bit of life left in it.
Whether or not slavery had economic value, southerners had no desire to share their communities with large numbers (in some cases majorities) of free blacks on anything like an equal basis. As tony said, they did everything they could to keep blacks in their place.

I agree it's hard to imagine slavery in our lifetimes, but at what point would the same people who created and maintained Jim Crow abolish it on their own?
 
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#48
The ideology is all postwar. Which is my point. Certainly secessionists saw slavery as under threat in the United States, but the threat was political. If the slaveowners had their way, slavery would do great.
In the deep south they may have thought slavery would be OK. But in every area touching the paid labor states people were aware that the northern states were growing rapidly, without slavery. Further, the geographic separation of the coerced labor system from the paid labor system was unstable.
Changes that would have taken hundreds of years in the ancient world now took ten years, and were accelerating. If the cotton areas were part of the world economy, sooner or later they were going to have conform to standards of the enlightment. And political independence was a false solution. An independent Confederacy is still part of the western world.
The idea that the south was going to be allowed to solve the slavery problem without the rest of the United States watching was false.
 

uaskme

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#49
By the Yankee Example, of a slow gradual Emancipation, Slavery would of lasted for some period of time. During the period of 1850 to 1860 Coolie importation began to equal African importation in Cuba. So Asian Labor was growing in relation to African Labor. Chinese were literally eating each other. Labor Contracts were replacing Slavery as evidenced by Coolie Labor. Blacks and other Ethnic Groups under Contract were less than Free so it is argumentative that Slavery ended after the Civil War. The South was conscious as well as the North of Africanization. No indication that I have seen the Lower South would allowed itself to have a Black population many times more that the White Population. Governor Wise of VA and others were wanting to export Slaves. Wise was Minister to Brazil pre War and actually tried to attack the Slave Trade.

Nothing I have read suggest the Slave Trade ever stopped. Even though it was Illegal, it was still profitable. We know how that works. Creating a Law usually doesn't dispose of the Law of Economics.
 

Belle Montgomery

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#50
I have not seen the claim that slavery "would not have died" without the Civil War. I heard Eric Foner say that agricultural-based slavery was viable until the 1920s. Whether the leap to urban slavery could have been made is tough to say, but it is possible.

If slavery was dying out, we would expect to see it decline during the years leading up to the Civil War, yet as this table indicates, the number of slaves was steadily increasing:

View attachment 198891
From 1850 to 1860 there was a 23% increase in the number of slaves in the South. That is without anyone being added to the slave population through import or immigration!
I'm curious how many of these were "born into" slavery on the plantation?
 
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#51
I am not sure why it is hard to imagine chattel slavery in our life time. I could well see chattel slavery in the US up to the 1950s to 1970s.
who's going to pass an ammendment to kill it in 1963? the passing of amendments seems to get more difficult with time.

i believe if slavery made it into the 1960 it'd be still around today (the numbers) would be reduced of course.

... and the american civil war of (chose one and only one)

[ ] 1874
[ ] 1886
[ ] 1892
[ ] 1903
[ ] 1911
[ ] 1924
would have most likely killed it by then, anyway (at some point the thread of secession would have been used up) and winning against ever stronger yankees becomes difficulter with every year the south choses to stay in the past (that's not only slavery).
 
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#53
The utilization of coerced labor was not spreading in the western states. If the application of slavery to mining and wheat growing was acceptable to Americans, slavery would have made the jump to Oregon and California. There would have been more than 119,000 slaves in Missouri if slavery was prosperous and thriving. There would have been 30 pro-slavery towns in Kansas equal in dynamism to Lawrence, KS.
The next tier of states ready for admission was going to be some combination of Washington, Nevada, Nebraska and Colorado. So the ratio of paid labor to coerced labor states was only going to increase.
 

Pat Young

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#54
Slavery wasn't in decline in 1860. I do believe the Boll Weavel, the invention of the tractor and the development of Egyptian cotton would have radically changed it.
I don't know enough about the subject to have a personal opinion, but I have heard a couple of economists say that, and Foner has said pretty much the same thing. Slavery was economically viable for another half-century, at least.
 
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#55
The fundamental political problem with coerced labor is that it cannot function in a society in which working people vote.
The factory workers, and in the case of the United States, the Irish immigrants, the people who have to work for a living, become the most active opponents of slavery. The political problem that the secessionists faced in 1860 was that the Democratic party was increasingly becoming a Irish immigrant party and the immigrants knew the geographical and commercial expansion of slavery undercut wages.
 
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#57
Wealthy people thought slavery was great. It provided a large class of domestic servants and cheap labor on commercial farms producing cash crops that could be sold in the world market. But more people over the entire south began to see slavery as something that rich people had and poor people did not have. Moreover, the cotton economy was booming between 1840-1860. Places not directly connected to the cotton economy, in Kentucky, Missouri and elsewhere, were experiencing the same problems that the rest of the United States was facing. Keeping the slaves gainfully and fully employed was becoming as a much of burden as an opportunity, which is why slaves were being sold westward.
 



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