Southern Plantation owner
Those who defended slavery rose to the challenge set forth by the
Abolitionists. The defenders of slavery included economics, history,
religion, legality, social good, and even humanitarianism, to
further their arguments.
Defenders of slavery argued that the sudden end to the slave
economy would have had a profound and killing economic impact in the
South where reliance on slave labor was the foundation of their
economy. The cotton economy would collapse. The tobacco crop would
dry in the fields. Rice would cease being profitable.
Defenders of slavery argued that if all the slaves were
freed, there would be widespread unemployment and chaos. This would
lead to uprisings, bloodshed, and anarchy. They pointed to the mob's
"rule of terror" during the French Revolution and argued for the
continuation of the status quo, which was providing for affluence
and stability for the slaveholding class and for all free people who
enjoyed the bounty of the slave society
Some slaveholders believed that African Americans were
biologically inferior to their masters. During the 1800s, this
argument was taken quite seriously, even in scientific circles.
Defenders of slavery argued that slavery had existed
throughout history and was the natural state of mankind. The Greeks
had slaves, the Romans had slaves, and the English had slavery until
Defenders of slavery noted that in the Bible, Abraham had
slaves. They point to the Ten Commandments, noting that "Thou shalt
not covet thy neighbor's house, ... nor his manservant, nor his
maidservant." In the New Testament, Paul returned a runaway slave,
Philemon, to his master, and, although slavery was widespread
throughout the Roman world, Jesus never spoke out against it.
Defenders of slavery turned to the courts, who had ruled,
with the Dred Scott Decision, that all blacks — not just slaves —
had no legal standing as persons in our courts — they were property,
and the Constitution protected slave-holders' rights to their
Defenders of slavery argued that the institution was divine,
and that it brought Christianity to the heathen from across the
ocean. Slavery was, according to this argument, a good thing for the
enslaved. John C. Calhoun said, "Never before has the black race of
Central Africa, from the dawn of history to the present day,
attained a condition so civilized and so improved, not only
physically, but morally and intellectually."
Defenders of slavery argued that by comparison with the poor
of Europe and the workers in the Northern states, that slaves were
better cared for. They said that their owners would protect and
assist them when they were sick and aged, unlike those who, once
fired from their work, were left to fend helplessly for themselves.
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