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Pro-slavery advocates before the Civil War

Liberty Bell

The beginning of proslavery arguments occured as a result of the growth of abolitionism (Robinson 1).  While the abolitionists argued for the immediate end of slavery, proslavery forces worked to justify the institution of slavery.  Based on ideas of white superiority, as well as those of religious justification, advocates of slavery worked to convince southerners and Northerners that slavery was beneficial to the slaves and was God ordained.

The national growth of abolitionism, in the 1830s, forced those in favor of slavery to develop a defense of this "peculiar institution." Advocates of slavery pointed to the paternalistic benevolence that slave owners supposedly practiced. The relationship of the owner to the slave was compared to that of a parent to a child. Owners provided food and shelter to their slaves. They argued that slaves were better off than Northern factory workers, who were living in conditions that were less desirable (Jones 1). Literature that supported this ideology then emerged. One writer, Caroline Hentz, wrote "The Planters Northern Bride" in defense of slavery. Hentz was born in the North, and removed to the South after she got married. In writing about the benevolence of slavery, she intended to appeal to the North and the South, as she was familiar with both (Freibert & White 279). In addition to the benefits that the slaves enjoyed under slavery, the fears of miscegenation and racial assimilation were central to proslavery arguments. These fears existed among many Southern and Northern whites, who thought blacks were inferior to whites (Robinson 1).
 

One man who sought to support slavery, based on white supremacy, was John Campbell.  He wrote a book called Negromania that sought to prove the superiority of the white race.
 
"There is not a single circumstance in the history of the whole of this race which indicates an intellectual appetitie beyond an embryonic state" (Campbell 369).
 
This propaganda sought to prove that the intellectual capacity of Africans was abysmal.  The information in this book also fed the fears that many white Americans had of miscegenation.
 
"Of this kind is the example of the Portugese colony, which, upon the early discovery of the country, was established in Congo, and which is now lost by amalgamation with the Negro inhabitants" (Campbell 365). 
 
White supremacists thought that the mixing of the races would reult in the loss of the white race.

The Bible was also used extensively by the defenders of slavery in support of human bondage.  One author, Thornton Stringfellow, wrote Scriptural and Statistical Views in Favor of Slavery, in an attempt to show, with the use of scripture, that slavery had: "The sanction of the Almighty in the Patriarchal age " (Stringfellow 6).  This argument is developed to explain that God recognized slavery under the law, and that slavery was full of mercy (Stringfellow 7). 
 
Although slavery was a brutal institution, and was far from benevolent toward the slaves, the advocates of slavery created many arguments that appealed to many Americans from the North and the South.   Christian doctrine, paternalism and white superiority ideologies were all used in order to fuel sentiments that were prevalent among much of white America. 
 

Works Cited
 
Campbell, John.  Negro-Mania.  Philadelphia:  Campbell and Power, 1851.
 
Freibert and White anthology.  Hidden Hands.  Rutgers.
 
Robinson, James.  "Anti-abolitionism."  Africana.com.  http//www.africana.com/Articles
 
Stingfellow, Thornton.  Scriptural and Statistical Views In Favor of Slavery.  Richmond: Randolph, 1856.

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Anti-abolitionism

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