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Every additional three and a half bales meant an additional field - hand, so that in round numbers 1,400,000 more were employed in the cotton-fields in 1860 to produce 5,400,000 bales than to produce the 450,000 bales of 1820.1
In these forty years cotton had become not only the support of the South and the main-stay of our foreign commerce, but an equal necessity to England, the home of the cotton manufacture. There was then a basis for the belief, held without reserve, that without slavery there could be no cotton. The results of freedom in Haiti and Jamaica afforded good grounds for such a view, and in any case the South had full belief that the result of a general emancipation would be totally to destroy the cotton industry by the refusal of the blacks to labor; thus reducing the region to the depressed condition of these islands." This feeling was a powerful element in the political situation. None foresaw that in less than forty years from 1860 the crop of cotton would be more than doubled under free negro labor. Could they have done so, politics would have taken a different aspect. The change of conditions effected by the rapidly increasing demand for cotton was by 1830 á great economic revolution.
'Cf. Morse," Southern Slavery and the Cotton Trade," in De Bow's Review, XXIII., 475 et seq. (November, 1857). 'De Bow's Review, XXVIII., 87, 201 (January and February, 1866)
Cotton cultivation rolled like a car of Juggernaut over every lesser industry, and marched into new territory as an invading army. Public lands to the amount of 20,242,017 acres were sold from 1833 to 1840 in the Gulf states, Arkansas, and Tennessee. The cotton crop rose from 1,070,438 bales in 1833 to 1,801,497 bales in 1838. Almost the whole of the increase was in the new slave states, whose slave population increased in the decade 1830-1840 by nearly four hundred thousand, proving how great had been the shifting of blacks from farther North, Virginia showing an actual decrease of nearly twenty-three thousand, and Maryland of over thirteen thousand.1 The natural effect of cheap land, the necessity of continually seeking fresh soil for unchanging crops, could have but one effect: there could be no careful cultivation, "no adequate system of fertilization, southern husbandry was, for the most part, a reckless pillage of the bounty of nature.""
Southern slavery wore a more humane aspect than the slave societies which preceded it. By the partial closure of the African slave-trade the supply was limited, and the economic well-being of the planter required such treatment of the slaves as would insure not only a good labor efficiency, but, still more important, would tend to a rapid increase in numbers. Says the excellent southern 1 Democratic Review, XXIII., 102 (August, 1848). 2 Reed, Brothers' War. 432
authority just quoted: "The southern slaves, regarded as property, were the most desirable investment open to the generality of people that has ever been known. . . . Their labor was richly remunerative; their market value was constantly rising; they were everywhere more easily convertible into money than the best securities; and their natural increase was so rapid that a part of it could be squandered by a shiftless owner every year to make both ends meet, and he still be left enough of accumulation to enrich him steadily. And so the plantation, or, rather, the slave system, swallowed up everything else."1
To preserve this system meant to extend and give it at least political equality, if not actual preponderance in the Union; this became the aim and demand of the South; to restrict it became the equally fixed resolve of the North. Failing preponderance in the Union, the only course of the South was to nationalize itself in correspondence with its peculiar social and economic organization, and face the world as a nation whose corner-stone was negro slavery.2
The outward manifestations in the history of the separation of the North and the South stand out in strong relief: the Missouri question; the protective tariff and South Carolina nullification; the abolition attacks which wrought the South into a frenzy suicidal in character through its impossible demands 1 Reed, Brothers' War, 4332 Ibid., chap. iv.
upon the North for protection; the action of the southern statesmen in the question of petitions; the passage of a fugitive-slave law which drove the North itself to nullification; the Kansas-Nebraska act and its outcome of civil war in the former territory; the recognition, in the dicta of the supreme court in the Dred Scott case, of the South's contention of its constitutional right to carry slavery into the territories, and the stand taken by the North against any further slavery extension. To these visible conflicts were added the unconscious workings of the disruptive forces of a totally dis tinct social organization. The outward strifes were but the symptoms of a malady in the body politic of the Union which could have but one end, unless the deep, abiding cause, slavery, should be removed.1
The president and vice-president of the Southern Confederacy, in their elaborate defences written after the war, have endeavored to rest the cause of the struggle wholly on constitutional questions. Stephens, whose book, not even excepting Calhoun's utterances, is the ablest exposition of the southern reading of the Constitution, says: "The struggle or conflict. . . from its rise to its culmination, was between those who, in whatever state they lived, were for maintaining our Federal system as it was established, and those who were for a consolidation of power in the central head."" Jef
1 Cf. Am. Nation, XIV., XVI.-XVIII., passim.
ferson Davis is even more explicit. "The truth remains," he says, "intact and incontrovertible that the existence of African servitude was in no wise. the cause of the conflict, but only an incident. In the later controversies . . . its effect in operating as a lever upon the passions, prejudices, or sympathies of mankind, was so potent that it has been spread like a thick cloud over the whole horizon of historic truch." 1
This is but begging the question. The constitutional view had its weight for the South in 1860 as it had for New England in the Jefferson-Madison period. Jefferson's iron domination of the national government during his presidency, a policy hateful to New England, combined with the fear of being overweighted in sectional influence by the western extension through the Louisiana purchase, led to pronounced threats of secession by men of New England, ardently desirous of escaping from what Pickering, one of its most prominent men, termed the Virginian supremacy. Exactly the same arguments were used, mutatis mutandis, later by the South.
As we all know, the movement, which never had any real popular support and which had its last spasm of life in the Hartford Convention at the close of the War of 1812, came to naught. Freed by the fall of Napoleon and the peace with England from the
1 Davis, Confederate Government, I., 80.