1840 - 1940

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2. Cotton Gin
  • Eli Whitney, 1793.
  • Idea of Mrs. Nathaniel Greene, Georgia widow.
  • Separates sticky seeds from short staple cotton.
  • Revolving drum with wire teeth reaches through slats to pull cotton away from seeds.
  • Moves cotton production inland.
  • 200 frost free days.
  • 50-60 inches of rainfall.
3. Cleaning Cotton: Hand Vs. Gin
  • Cotton gin cleans sticky seeds from long and short staple cotton 10 times faster than slaves can.
  • Makes cotton profitable across lower south.
4. Cotton Production: 1820 and 1860
  • Major cotton production area: red
  • Other cotton production areas: yellow
5. Frederick Law Olmsted
  • Journeys and Explorations into the Cotton Kingdom, 1861 [1856].
  • "For hours and hours one has to ride through the unlimited, continual, all shadowing, all-embracing forest, following roads in the making of which no more labor has been given than was necessary to remove the timber."
  • "For days and days he may never see two dwellings of mankind in sight of each other."
  • South is mainly rural.
6. Slave Distribution: 1790 and 1860
  • 1790: Slaves on coast; tobacco, rice, sea island cotton.
  • External slave trade banned in 1807. Natural reproduction as source of slaves.
  • 1860: Slaves all across south; cotton; sugar, rice, tobacco.
7. Slaves Moved in Gangs
  • Slaves moving in gangs hundreds of miles along roads to newly opened plantations were common sights in south. 
8. Internal Slave Trade

9. Plantation Economy

  • Mules and slaves as labor.
  • Cotton and corn rotations.
  • Shovels, hoes, cultivators, harrows, bull tongue plows.
  • The Big House and the slave house; cotton gin house.
10. Cotton Fields

11. Plowing it Under

  • Thomas Hart Benton (1889-1975), 1934.
  • Land deeply plowed in spring.
  • After plants appear, bull tongue plows were used to loosen dirt around plants.
  • Hoes used around roots.
12. Cotton Worm
  • A moth larva.
  • Not a boll weevil (beetle).
  • Problem in 19th century (before the boll weevil).
  • Labor intensive management by slaves.
13. Upland Cotton, Winslow Homer, 1859
  • Black slaves as cotton production labor.
  • Cheap, controllable.
  • "Pick a bale a day." 250 lbs.
14. Tobacco Versus Cotton South Tobacco South
  • Task labor
  • Individual, intensive
  • Fresh lands
  • Hills; squares
  • Weeds; suckers; tobacco worms
  • Slave trade
  • Mercantile capitalism
  • Luxury crop
Cotton South
  • Gang labor
  • Factory-like system
  • Cotton/Corn rotations
  • Row crops
  • Cotton boll worms; boll weevil
  • Natural reproduction
  • Industrial capitalism
  • Fiber crop; necessity
15. Market Woman
  • T. W. Wood, 1858.
  • Foods for slaves and livestock.
  • Wheat, oats, rye, corn.
  • Peas planted between rows of corn; harvested, dried, shelled; marketed.
  • Cabbages, yams, coarse sweet potatoes.
16. Slave Cabin
  • Slave way of life.
  • One room cabin; dirt floor; glassless window.
  • Straw mattresses; rope lashed bed-frames.
  • Clothing of osnaburg (coarse cotton); African patterns, kerchiefs.
  • Diet of cornmeal, fat pork, molasses.
  • Typhoid, malaria, dysentery, infections.
17. Farmers Nooning
  • William Sydney Mount, 1836. 
  • Evolution of culture of defiance.
18. Cinque, 1839
  • Nathaniel Jocelyn, artist. 
  • 1839 mutiny aboard a Spanish slave ship.
  • Noble, strong, exotic.
  • Roman toga as clothing.
  • Slave culture of defiance.
19. Bee Catching, 1818
  • David Claypoole Johnston, 1799-1865.
  • Whites vs. slaves.
  • Wealthy merchant despairs over bees following him.
  • Black housekeeper is amused.
20. Eel Spearing
  • William Sidney Mount, 1845.
  • Black woman spearing eels.
  • Hunting, fishing for plantation and slave subsistence.
21. Southern Yeomen Herders
  • Typical southerners; 2/3 of southern families did not own slaves.
  • Scotch-Irish immigrants.
  • Herded cattle and pigs in back woods (antebellum southern herdsman).
  • Independent, self-sufficient; not connected to market; raised subsistence surplus for needed items.
  • Followed by small yeoman farmers.
22. Yeoman Farmers
  • Hilly and mountainous lands cleared for crops.
  • Loved the beautiful mountains and wilds.
  • Moved on when they could hear sound of another man's axe.
  • "Weíve been movin' all our lives. As soon as ever we git comfortably settled, it's time to be off to something new."
23. Southern Yeoman Folkculture
  • Based on family, church, community.
  • Religious and camp meetings.
  • House-raisings, logrollings, quilting bees, corn shuckings; work, fun, fellowship.
  • Gender division of labor: men farmed; did outdoor work; women helped at harvest.
  • Women preserved and prepared food, made clothes, blankets, candles; indoor work, household economy.
24. Slaveholding Planters
  • 25% of white population had slaves.
  • 88% of southern slaveholders had fewer than 20 slaves; 72% had 10 slaves; 50% had fewer than 5 slaves.
  • Paternalism: custodians of welfare of blacks; benevolent guardians; anti-abolition.
  • Ambitious; aristocratic; profit-oriented.
25. Women in Planter Class
  • Household managers; subordinate female companions of husbands.
  • Daughters attended boarding schools; learned grammar, composition, penmanship; geography; literature; not science and mathematics.
  • "Violations of the moral law made mulattoes as common as blackberries."
  • 1839, Mississippi gives women some property rights to protect them from husbandsí debts; women gain control.
26. Discussion Questions
  • In what ways were African Americans trapped within a system of domination and power under slavery?
  • In what ways were they able to resist this system and achieve a measure of self-autonomy?