How did plantation crops and the slavery system change between 1800 and 1860? Why did these changes occur?
History of America between 1800 and 1860
The plantation crops and the slavery system underwent remarkable changes between 1800 and 1860. In the early 1800, the cotton industry experienced rapid expansion in the South. This was mainly driven by the invention of cotton gin, a machine that could easily process fine fibers from cotton seeds (Henretta and Brody, 2010). With the invention of the machine, the area under cotton cultivation increased drastically. This resulted to the ripple effect of increased demand for labor, which was dependent on slaves. It is worth noting that the development of the Southern states’ economies was hinged on cotton production and exportation (Henretta and Brody, 2010).
With the high demand for slavery, the southern states were overzealous to acquire more slaves from the neighboring states such as the western territories, with the hope that the trade would not die. In 1808, importation of slaves was made illegal (Henretta and Brody, 2010). Nonetheless, importation of slaves and domestic trading remained firm. In addition, smuggling of slaves became rampant. As the cotton plantations increased in the Deep South, more slaves were bought from the Upper South. This significantly increased the population of African Americans in the Deep South to about 4 million.
Meanwhile, political tension was growing as the entire continent was divided over freedom of slaves. The Southern states were keen on upholding slave trade, while in the Northern states slaves were free. By 1850, pressure had mounted on the Southern states as the United States of America had largely granted slaves freedom, with the exception of Confederate states which advocated for slavery (Smith, 1973). In 1960, Abraham Lincoln was elected the president and abolished forced labor in the entire continent. This resulted in the confederate states breaking up from the United States of American, marking the beginning of the American Civil War (Smith, 1973).
Henretta, J. A., & Brody, B. (2010). America: A concise history, Volume 1: To 1877. 4th ed. Boston, Bedford/St. Martin’s.
Smith, J. F. (1973). Slavery and plantation growth in Antebellum Florida. Gainesville: University of Florida Press.
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