The Changing Master and Slave Relationships

The Changing Master and Slave Relationships

The Relationship between Masters & Slaves till 1861

It is possible to say that the period between the end of the Revolution and the beginning of the Civil War was the most important in terms of the development of the so called ” Peculiar Institution of slavery”. In order to define the changing master – slave relationship, one must look at the historical background to Southern slavery. The defining characteristics or outside influences provide the key to an understanding of the master – slave relationship during this period. __Slavery seemed a very mutable institution which changed constantly to adapt to the different situation. The main contention of this essay is that, what started off as an essentially economic institution in order to help boost production of staple crops like, cotton, sugar, and tobacco, developed into the definitive characteristic of the emerging Ante – Bellum South. As the Civil War seemed inevitable in 1861 one of the key questions was whether the South would be able to protect it’s ” Peculiar Institution.”

Although slavery began in 1619, it was essentially confined _ A7?3 _Å to the Eastern seaboard states throughout the Seventeenth, and most of the eighteenth century. It wasn’t until after the Revolution that slavery really became the major source of Southern labor. Due to the continuing geographical expansion in the South the mainstay of the economy became the growing of staple crops like, sugar, tobacco and, later cotton. Along with certain technological inventions made it seem more likely that the Southern economy was going to be based on slave labor. As Boles argues in _Black Southerners_ ” before 1800 technological breakthroughs at both ends of the South made possible the remarkably rapid rise of a slave-staple crop society in the deep South.” _1_

At the end of the Revolutionary period in 1790 there were 657,527 slaves, and by 1810 there were 1,163,854 _2_ This massive ex..


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