Slavery became a practice of people mainly of color being purchased,sold and forced to work. During the early 1600’s ,slaves were purchased for many different reasons but purchasing them to pick cotton was at an all time high. Over time the widespread of cotton grew rapidly , along with slavery.
There were all different types of slaves that worked on these plantations, field workers, house slaves , butlers, maids, painters,and carpenters. Most of them mainly worked in the fields on the cotton plantations. Men, women and children beared back-breaking work from sunup to sundown in the cotton fields,along with clearing land, planting seeds for crops, feeding animals, preparing dinner, tending to other chores, and harvesting the cotton. Cotton and slavery moved hand in hand . Slavery was the new way of life especially with farmers expanding their landing , planting their crops, and with slavery being the reliance of the Southerns economy, plantation owners were in almost desperate needs to gather double the slaves they already had to make them wealthy than ever before. The revolution of cotton was a time of panic, stress, and competition. A lot of time and effort went into the productions of cotton , the expansion of lands ,maintenance of enslaved workforces, and credit. Maintenance played a huge role in the production of cotton,if lands didn’t produce viable crops within a year , or endured lack of nutrients ,the owner would lose everything.
His land and his slaves, and would suffer a huge debt. With all this transitioning, slaves still went through traumatizing times. Life of a slave was tragic, horrible memories of what they have experienced , and what was to come haunted them.
Slaves pictured their inhumanity in full , undergoing twenty hour work days, the burning hot sun, heartbreak of being split from their families, being sold, reminiscing on the pain from lashes.Women being raped, physically, mentally ,and emotionally abused. Slave owners didn’t show any type of sympathy. As long as a days work was completed, that’s all that mainly mattered. Stealing slaves also became a huge business as well as extremely profitable, involving networks in the North where African Americans were kidnapped and sold down South to work on plantations.
Former slave Solomon Northrup who was kidnapped March 1841 in Washington D.C and taken to New Orleans where he was sold to a slave owner. He was granted his freedom after twelve years of being a slave. Slave napping was happening to thousands of free African Americans, while no one cared enough to fight for these people nor their freedom. They had to deal with the cards that were unfortunately dealt to them. Slavery had shaped the culture and society of the South, which rested on a racial ideology of white supremacy.
The Souths high society whites believed that slavery itself sustained a newly prosperous wealth and way of life for the Southern economy. Overtime cotton picking became a labor-intensive crop, which caused many plantation owners to reduce the number of slaves they had due to high costs and low output. Eli Whitney revolutionized the cotton production when his invention of the cotton gin came about , which many of slaves grew fear of. The cotton gin was a device that separated the seeds from raw cotton. All of a sudden, a process that was extraordinarily labor-intensive would be able to be complete quickly and easily.
During the early 1800s, cotton grew as the South’s major cash crop. Cotton become a good product for commercial values, instead of for use by the owner. Cotton had quickly surpassed tobacco, rice, and sugar in economic importance. Overtime the slave trade became a very profitable business between the 1820s and the 1860s.Slave trade was mostly sustained by the natural growth of the slave population. Virginia, North Carolina, Kentucky, Tennessee, Missouri, and the District of Columbia were the slave exporting areas.
Of all these states, Virginia was the biggest supplier. With Mississippi becoming the wealthiest cotton state.Mississippi, became the nation’s largest state to produce cotton. Mississippi, was economically and politically dependent on cotton, as was the entire South. Cotton, was the South’s economic ”backbone”.
Once the southern states decided to split from the United States to form what we know now as the Confederate States of America. In 1861, they used cotton to finance its government, arms for its military, along with having economic power for a diplomatic strategy for the underdeveloped Confederate nation. After President Abraham was elected things slowly started to shift.
Lincoln demanded a blockade be put on the Confederacy. This blockade was to prevent massive productions of cotton to be shipped over to the European powers. The South would soon be deprived of cotton and slaves.The South’s economy, was still shaky throughout the Civil War, it grew worse in its later years.
The Emancipation Proclamation, angered the South with the promise of freedom for their slaves, it also threatened the very existence of its primary labor source. Unfortunately,the economy continued to suffer, slaves were still being captured. “Without slavery there would be no Cotton Kingdom”, (Yawp17).