Slavery And The Economy Of The Southern Colonies

1226 words - 5 pages

Everybody has something they feel that makes their lives easier, something a person becomes so accustomed to they could not live without it. This is what African slaves were to the Southern colonists. Slavery was a huge factor in the Southerner’s lives. Originally the colonists used indentured servants to work in their homes and on their plantations. This situation was not ideal because the Southern farmers wanted more control over their workers (orange). Virginian farmers heard about the success of slavery in the Caribbean and thought it would be a good solution to their problems (blue). The southern colonists had a very different way of earning a living than in the north. They needed people to work through “the harsh realities of a land-rich, but labor-scarce economy…” (Purple). The plantation owners had all the land and resources, but no one to work on their grounds long term. Throughout the years 1607-1775, slavery rose as an important contributor to the South’s economy due to social, geographic and economic aspects.
Slavery affected the South’s social structure because the southern elite enjoyed being at the top of the ranks. Although slavery was originally started for economic reasons, social components regarding slavery soon became important to the southern colonists (red). Land and slave owners were at the top of these ranks, and then came poor farmers, and then slaves at the bottom. Virginians had a specific attitude towards others based on the color of one’s skin and the amount of slaves a person had (pink). Generally, the amount of slaves owned by a proprietor established his position and power, measured his affluence, and marked his status. The plantation owners with the most land and slaves held the most power in the southern colonies. These slaveholders were able to spend their free time pursuing leisure activities, educational undertakings, and participating in public affairs (orange). Many laws were created in an effort to ensure a white man’s position over a black man’s position. It was made illegal for an African American to insult any white man regardless of either person’s position (red). Also, slave owners were allowed to punish their slaves in any form they deemed necessary. Often they would punish a slave more harshly in order to show the rest of their slaves the repercussions for their missteps. Southerners also used race to justify the negative claims about slavery. They claimed that the white colonists were civil while the African Americans were barbaric and dangerous. When referring to African Americans, white southerners used language similar to the language used by educated Englishmen while describing the extremely poor (red). This influenced others to believe that African Americans were beneath them, which led more and more people to begin to condone slavery.
Aside from social benefits, geographical aspects made slavery seem more appealing. Average food crops were not compatible with the southern soil, so southern...

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