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Slavery and the South

In spite of the process of emancipation and criticism against slavery, the South hung onto slavery even after the Revolutionary Period (Moore 140). At first, they defended the institution of slavery as a necessary evil. However, in time, the South, through the voice of the intellectuals, wove an impressive web of justifications. It not only defended the institution, but extolled it as an ideal system to be emulated by all societies. In their complete embrace of slavery, these intellectuals justified the institution on several levels: physiological, racial, social, religious, cultural and economic.

By pointing out the physiological and racial differences from the whites, the doctors and scientists of the South played a large part in undermining the humanity of the slaves. This "knowledge" set the stage for the justification of the oppression of slaves. Nonetheless, slaveholders considered their system of slavery a more benevolent institution than capitalism. Ultimately, it was the world's dependence on cotton, produced by slave labor that was instrumental in fully justifying the existence of slave labor.

One way that the South tried to justify its oppression of the slaves was by degrading their humanity and highlighting their difference from white people. Advocating the "scientific" race theory, doctors like Dr. Samuel Cartwright, tried to justify slavery by delineating the distinctive racial characteristics of blacks. According to his investigations, Cartwright discovered that unlike the heads of the Caucasians and the Mongolians, the head of blacks resembled most closely to the head of the monkey. From the anatomical descriptions of the heads, the blacks also came from a different species (Cartwright 139-140). Apart from other external characteristics ranging from the nostrils, lips to the sensations, Cartwright stated that the brain of blacks was one-tenth smaller than that of the Europeans. Therefore, the blacks had greate...

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Slavery and the South. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 01:09, March 26, 2019, from