Section I
The South as a Paternalistic Society (Q1)

slavery-in-the-united-statesBefore the civil war, paternalism was a concept that was used to justify and legitimize the concept of slavery in the South in the United States. The slave owners used the economic status of the freed slaves to justify that enslaving the slaves was making them economically better because they had access to food, shelter, and clothing. Women presented themselves as mothers to the slaves, justifying this as pure paternalism where they were protecting the slaves from the dangers of being free people. The slaves were mainly black people in the Southern states and they relates among each other as mates. Many of them agreed with the paternalistic views as they had gotten used to the benefits they received as slaves.


Among the slave owners, the feeling was that they were doing the slaves a favour by enslaving them. However, some of the non-slave owners had a feeling that the slavery was paternalistic in an impure sense. Impure paternalism was the attitude of the non-slave owners because of the feeling that the south was treating the slaves unfairly. The paternalism growth in the south was mainly because of the moral paternalism perpetuated by religion that taught the slaves to obey their masters. The slaves genuinely believed in some aspects that the slave masters had a moral authority over them. Paternalism therefore grew because the slave masters endeared themselves as having the interests of the slaves while the slaves related in a way that they believed the slave masters had the moral and legal authority over them. It therefore justified slavery and grew in strength because majority of the states in the south relied on slaves for labour on their farms.

How the Economic Needs and Interests of the Slaveholders Helped the Slaveholders (Q2)

The slaveholders justified their need to hold the slaves by their need to have labour for the farms that would help in improving the economic status of the states they lived in. Agriculture was a major part of the economy of the southern states and cheap labour was a way to sustain the agriculture. The need to have cheap labour in order to lower the costs of production was a major interest for the slaveholders that served their need to have slaves. Having slaves also came with a social and political status. Slaveholders saw holding slaves as a sign that they were wealthy and had the right to make economic decisions as well as social status. The need to be socially and politically strong and powerful also served to help the slaveholders and their interest in slavery because it made slavery acceptable among the people.

Economic growth for the slaveholders was also motivated by profitability of the slaves. Slaves were traded in the southern states and exchanged meaning slaveholders with many slaves that had the right physical qualities had a profitable status in the society. Profitability of the slaves and the need for the slaveholders to make a profit out of selling the slaves was also a great point of interest for the slaveholders.

Section II
Ways the Interactions of Blacks and Whites Shaped the Identities and Interests of Each (Q2)

The interactions between the blacks and white affected their interests and identities because they developed an understanding of the needs and weaknesses of each other, which helped in alleviating their desires and defining their actions. When the whites interacted with the blacks, they showed up as a superior group united by the belief that they were significantly better than the blacks. They showed it both in their status and their actions. The whites were wealthy and had a good economic status while the leadership positions were also taken up by the white people especially in the southern states where the blacks lived in large populations. The whites also expressed a need to experiment with the slaves and promoted a notion that the blacks were better when they were slaves than when they were free men.

On the other hand, interactions between the blacks and whites had black people expressing their inferiority. Black people played a major role in their own slavery because they gave the whites the impression that they were weak, vulnerable, and easy to control mentally. They accepted religion when it was given to them as well as accepting slavery as a way of life. Working as slaves was often talked in the black community as a way that the whites were helping the blacks to live better lives. The notion of paternalism was passed down from the whites to the blacks, which made it hard to talk about the challenges that blacks faced in slavery without talking about the actions of the whites.

How the Law Defined and Affected Slavery in Different Places over Time (Q3)

In 1501, Spanish settlers first brought black slaves to America, which started a large tradition of slave trade that peaked in 1638 when the New England Slave Trade begun and was instituted as part of the British North America law. The law, at this point, made it legal to have slaves and trade in slaves. A Virginia law in 1662 established that children born to black slaves were also considered slaves, which increased the scale and demography of the slaves. The growth of abolitionism led to the formation of the first abolitionist society in Philadelphia, a legal step that also helped in ensuring the progress towards freedom of slaves started well. In 1793, the First Fugitive Slave Act was passed that outlawed interference with the actions by slaveholders to recapture escaping slaves.

In 1808, the United States abolished slave trade in the United States although smuggling for the slaves continued especially in the Southern states. There were massive demonstrations and revolts against the smuggling of slaves in the years that followed with greater emphasis put on ensuring complete abolition of slave trade. The compromise of 1850 also established the Fugitive Slave Law that gave federal authorities more power in exchange for California becoming part of the union. Later, the Missouri compromise in 1854 led to the Kansas-Nebraska Act that gave the two states decisions to make on whether to outlaw slavery. Slavery became tougher in the Dred Scott decision that said blacks did not have a right to citizenship and that congress had no power to overrule that. Hope came with President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation that freed slaves and consistent 13th Amendment that ended slavery in the United States.


Slavery and the issue of slave trade in the United States has a long history. There is a long concern that slavery was taken up because the white owners and slaveholders believed that it was not only socially acceptable but also economically beneficial to have slaves. An understanding of the history of slavery therefore creates an understanding of the mental, physical, and economic effects of slavery in the United States.

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