Why did slavery need so much protection?

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wausaubob

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Why did slavery need so much protection from the federal government?
Why did secessionists assert that a government with abolitionist allies could eliminate slavery in the long run?
Why didn't they have confidence that the arrangement was so powerful and flexible that it would not only survive but spread and become national, regardless of any temporary political problems?

I think there are a few considerations.

The status of women was changing and changing rapidly. Elite women could read and write, and did so on a large scale. The productive power of working women, when equipped with power equipment was changing. The working conditions may have been bad, but the value was there.

That meant that slavery was in retreat in England, France, and the northern United States. Together with Belgium and some parts of German speaking world, slavery had disappeared and these were the areas that at least wealthy people were doing better than in any time in history.

The critical issue was in the northern United States. If slavery was so valuable and necessary, the economy in those areas would have suffered. There were some slumps, but the economy and the population were growing rapidly. Therefore slavery was not necessary in all circumstances, though it could still be necessary for southern agriculture. When all the states had some version of slavery, no special protection was needed. But when there were both paid labor businesses and coerced labor businesses in the same country, the potential for weakening of slavery was a problem.

The African-Americans were becoming American. Both their English skills and the cultural competence were improving. Outside the south, free Blacks did many things. Every free Black person was evidence that perhaps if people paid the African-Americans, they would work, just the same as other people. I've written before that the slaves became aware that they were enslaved, and no one else was enslaved. That meant that enforcement costs were escalating and that continuation of race based slavery created the need for a rationalization of the system.

Finally the country became bigger. The relative power of any individual state was smaller. Virginia was no longer dominant. It became harder for a slave owner to chase down a fugitive and a more favorable method of reclaiming a slave had to be created.

Basically, the rising standard of living, and the increasing need for literate labor that could do basic math was making coerced labor in agriculture more exceptional and noticeable, perhaps.

Why did slavery need so much protection that it competed with the emerging railroad industry for political power and influence?

Just a thought.
 
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