Examining the choices that confronted the American South in the era of the cotton revolution, Lacy Ford outlines the tensions that appeared as both the upper and the lower South attempted reconfigurations of slavery after the foreign slave trade ended in 1808. Upper South politicians sought a demographic reconfiguration, or a “whitening” of the region, to reduce the number of slaves living there through both colonization and the sale of slaves to the lower South. Lower South leaders, meanwhile, sought an ideological reconfiguration to make slaveholding consistent with existing republican and emerging humanitarian ideals by transforming slavery into a “domestic” institution legitimated by paternalism. As Ford shows, the divergent efforts at reconfiguration pitted spokesmen of the upper and lower South against each other even as the antagonists displayed a shared and fundamental unwillingness to undermine slaveholding and slaveholders.
You may use the “Sections” menu on the upper right side of each page to navigate through this installment. Provided below is a summary of each section in this installment.
The full text of the article as it appeared in the June 2008 issue of the Journal of American History.
The author’s comments about using this article in the classroom. This installment includes 6 exercises:
- Exercise 1: Gabriel Prosser Insurrection
- Exercise 2: South Carolina Reopens the International Slave Trade
- Exercise 3: American Colonization Society
- Exercise 4: Missouri Compromise, 1820–21
- Exercise 5: Denmark Vesey Insurrection Scare
- Exercise 6: Abolition Petition and Mail Campaigns
A set of primary source documents selected for use in teaching this article.
A bibliography of related secondary sources recommended by the author.