Did Morality Or Economics Dominate The Debates Over Slavery In The 1850s?

The debate over the issues surrounding slavery in the 1850s still rages. Many people have set out to unravel the reason behind the then civil war that saw the shading of blood of a significant number of innocent people. The war was between the Southern and the Northern states, where slavery prevail.

While the Southern states sought to preserve their prevailing agricultural and slavery ways of life, the Northern states were after nurturing a new way of life, free of slavery. These outstanding differences compelled people to address slavery as a subject majoring on its causes. Among the many causes associated with slavery, political, cultural, moral, and economical causes underscore the major causes.

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However, as primary sources unfold, virtually all the debates over slavery in the 1850s were dominated by economics, rather than morals. It is rather interesting to find out that, even from the arguments of those who associate slavery with morals, rather than economics, the issue of economics stands out in their debate. For instance, one reason that explains the stance of the Northerners concerning slavery is that they wanted to nurture unity and free labour against their southern counterparts.

Labour and economy remained intertwined in that; the former was a factor that determined the state of the latter. Therefore, building on this argument, it suffices to infer that, the causes of slavery cannot be sufficient without addressing the issue of economics. The entry of the Negros to America was a major cause of the Civil War; a war founded on nothing but slavery.

The reason behind the entry of these people was no more than economy based. They played a significant role as far as trade was concerned in those days. Therefore, economics could not be divorced from any slavery debate for it was the sole issue affecting all the political powers of that time.

Scholars single out economical differences between the two states as the cause of the slavery in those days. As the two competed in maintaining their economic statuses, slave trade turned out as one way out.

Revealing the economic gain from slavery, the Southerners were deeply rooted on slavery since it was more profitable than any other form of trade. In other words, it boosted their economic well-being significantly. Without slavery, the Southerners’ economy would crumble. There existed another category of people, who claimed that slavery was an outcome of the differences in geographical regions.

While some regions remained agriculturally fit, other had rugged landscapes that could not allow any agricultural practise. Following the significant contribution of agriculture in the then economy, the agriculturally challenged regions had to offer labour, sufficient to maintain this economy. As the debates about slavery unfolded, it was all about economy that slavery found its way.

In conclusion, 1850s stands out as a period marked by raging debates over slavery. People have pointed out various causes of slavery; some associate it with politics and immorality, while others associate it with culture as well as economics. As the debate over slavery continued, economics remained dominant.

Hoarding material possessions is a ghost that has haunted human beings for a long time. Morality could not find its way in at a time when material possessions surpassed human lives. Regardless of what different people perceive the dominant subject surrounding slavery, it is evident that economics and not morality dominated slavery debates in the 1850s. People of that time were not concerned about morality; all they cared was their economical well-being.


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