Topic: Control and Resistance in the Antebellum South
Introduction: During the antebellum era, cash crop agriculture and a slave based labor system became even more important to the economy and society of the American South. Facing both internal and external threats to the institution of slavery, white southerners developed tools of control to defend the slave system. However, African American slaves found various means to resist the horrors of slavery during the era.
Assignment: Discuss the tensions between control and resistance that characterized the slave system in the Antebellum South. Your essay should be a minimum of 4-5 pages in length
Be sure to address ALL of the following issues and questions in your essay: (Note these are questions to guide you in completing the essay. Do not simply answer the questions. Your paper must be in proper essay form – see guidelines below.)
Question Set 1: Address the following questions:
What factors were responsible for the expansion of cash crop agriculture and slave labor in the South during the antebellum period?
What impact did the South’s reliance on cash crop agriculture and slave labor have on the economy, environment, and society of the South during the antebellum era?
Question Set 2: Using Document 1: Comprehensive Negro Code of 1740, and Document 2: James Henry Hammond’s Letter to His Overseer, address the following questions:
According to Document 1: Comprehensive Negro Code of 1740, why were these laws considered necessary?
Under these laws, who is considered to be a slave in South Carolina?
According to Document 1: Comprehensive Negro Code of 1740, slave status in South Carolina is determined by the “condition of the mother.” Why do you think the government of South Carolina tracked slave status through the mother rather than the father as was usually the case under English law?
What are some of the restrictions placed on slave behavior under these laws? What are some of the penalties for violating the law?
What does the Document 1: Comprehensive Negro Code of 1740 reveal about the fears and concerns of white South Carolinians in controlling their slave population?
Who were overseers and what role did they play on southern plantations?
According to Document 2: James Henry Hammond’s Letter to His Overseer, what are some of James Henry Hammond’s instructions to his overseer and how are they intended to control the slave population?
What are some of the special instructions for the overseer regarding children, pregnant women, and elderly slaves?
Who were slave drivers and what role did they play on the plantation? Why do you think it was necessary to have both overseers and slave drivers on the plantation?
According to the document, what does a typical work day on the plantation consist of?
Why do you think such detailed instructions were necessary for the overseer?
What were some of the other tools of control available to slave holders during the antebellum period? Why were these tools of control considered necessary and were they effective in controlling the slave population?
Question Set 3: Using Document 3: Sociology for the South by George Fitzhugh address the following questions:
What issues and events during the antebellum period do you think caused southerners to more forcefully defend the institution of slavery during the time period?
In Document 3: Sociology for the South , how does George Fitzhugh attempt to defend the institution of slavery?
According to Fitzhugh, how does the institution of slavery benefit the slaves?
How does Fitzhugh compare the way of life in the South versus the way of life in the North? Which does he prefer and why?
According to Fitzhugh, how does slavery help to provide liberty and equality to white citizens?
Do you think Fitzhugh’s arguments were effective in defending the institution of slavery? Why? Why not?
Question Set 4: Using Document 4: Twelve Years a Slave by Solomon Northup address the following questions:
What is Solomon Northup’s relationship with his master?
What are some of the processes involved in the cultivation of cotton?
How are slaves encouraged to pick as much cotton as possible?
How long does a slave’s day’s work usually last?
Why do the slaves fear going to the gin-house at the end of the day?
After working in the fields, what other tasks are slaves required to perform?
What is the typical diet of the slaves?
What are the slave houses like?
How might the description of slave life as described by Northup contradict the defense of slavery as presented by George Fitzhugh in Document 3: Sociology for the South?
Do you think that the publication of slave narratives such as that of Solomon Northup would be an effective tool in resisting the institution of slavery? Why? Why not?
Question Set 5: Using Document 5: Slavery and the Second Great Awakening, and Document 6: What to a Slave is the Fourth of July by Frederick Douglass address the following questions:
What was the Second Great Awakening and why was it significant?
What was the impact of the Second great Awakening on slaves in the South?
According to Peter Randolph’s account, how did slave owners attempt to use religion as a tool of control?
According to Randolph, how did slaves manage to create their own spiritual movement free from the master’s control? How did the religious gatherings of slaves differ from the church services of the master?
What underlying meaning can you find in the three spirituals provided?
Do you think it is accurate to call these spirituals a form of resistance? Why? Why not?
How might religion have helped slaves to endure bondage?
Do you think religion was an effective means of resistance against the institution of slavery? Why? Why not?
What were some other methods of resistance utilized by slaves during the antebellum era? Give examples.
Who is Frederick Douglass and why is he significant?
What is Frederick Douglass’s interpretation of the true meaning of the 4th of July?
What arguments does Douglass make in defense of the manhood of slaves?
According to Douglass, how does slavery contradict the founding principles of the Republic?
Do you think Douglass’s ideas are consistent with the ideals expressed in the Declaration of Independence? (Note: A copy of the Declaration of Independence is included for reference)
Do you think Douglass’s arguments were effective in countering the ideas of Fitzhugh and Calhoun as described in documents 2 and 3?
Conclusion: Some scholars have referred to slavery as the “original sin” in the founding of the American Republic. In reviewing Documents 1-5, do you agree with this statement? Why or why not? Do you think the issue of slavery could have been resolved peacefully? Why or why not?
Place your name, the course number and section, and assignment title clearly at the top of the document.
Use one-inch margins and a twelve point font.
Use double line spacing in the document.
Save and Submit your essay as a Microsoft Word document
To Get a top Score, your paper should include:
An introductory paragraph with a clear thesis sentence(s) explaining the main points you plan to discuss.
Following paragraphs that contain your main points.
A concluding sentence(s) that sums up your thoughts.
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