Pro-Slavery Ideology Essay

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Mary P. O’Malley HIST 365 Prof. Nation June 22, 2008 Essay Exam 3 What was the basis of the pro-slavery defense in the South? In the early to mid-1800’s, white southern leaders began to defend themselves against what they perceived as attacks against their way of life and the “peculiar institution”, which facilitated it. As the abolitionist movement grew, Southern leaders defended slavery citing, Biblical, historical, sociological, political, and economic justifications, which were all ultimately tied to race. The Bible was commonly cited in pro-slavery arguments. In the Old Testament, God’s chosen people, the Israelites, were slaveholders, and it was argued that Africans were descendents of Hamm, whose curse was to live in servitude to his brothers. Pro-slavery ministers also drew from Paul’s epistles, which compel wives, children, and slaves to be submissive to their masters, and for citizens to “Render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s, and unto God the things that are God’s” (Keith 118). As a historical defense, pro-slavery writers compared the antebellum South to ancient Greece and Rome, the great slaveholding societies of the past (Nation 6/16/08). In a scriptural defense of slavery in 1856, the Reverend Thornton Stringfellow states, “We have also shown from authentic history that the institution of slavery existed in every family, and in every province of the Roman Empire (Major Problems 330). In addition, Keith notes Calhoun’s claim that all civilized societies apportion wealth inequitably (117). Calhoun also favorably compared the institution of southern slavery with the European free labor system, “which left old, worn-out workers to the poorhouse.” In contrast, he states, “slavery was direct, simple, and patriarchical” (117). As further evidence of this patriarchical belief, Southerners ascribed to the theory of social organicism in

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