The Slaveholding Republic: An Account of the United States Government's Relations to Slavery

By Don E. Fehrenbacher; Ward M. McAfee | Go to book overview

2
SLAVERY AND THE
FOUNDING OF THE REPUBLIC

OF THE TWO documents that formally established the United States as a separate nation, one, the Declaration of Independence, made no direct reference to African slavery but embraced principles plainly inimical to the institution; whereas the other, the treaty of peace with Great Britain, contained a clause dealing explicitly and perfunctorily with slaves as a form of property. This inconsistency manifested at the founding was eloquently expressive of the degree to which the reach of American ideals habitually extended beyond the grasp of day-to-day practice where slavery was concerned.

Slavery at the time of the Revolution was firmly established in the five southernmost states from Maryland to Georgia, and it was more than a trivial presence in most of the others. Slaves numbered about half a million in 1780, constituting a little more than one-sixth of the national population. In the South, two persons out of every five were slaves. As a racial caste system, slavery was the most distinctive element in the southern social order. The slave production of staple crops dominated southern agriculture and eminently suited the development of a national market economy. Furthermore, slaveholders played such a vigorous part in the expansion of the American frontier that their slaves already comprised about one-sixth of the population living in Kentucky and the Southwest. Even before the great stimulus resulting from the growth of the cotton industry, slavery was by several standards a flourishing institution, integral to the prosperity of the nation. But at the same time, slavery was an institution under severe scrutiny, both as a matter of conscience and as a

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The Slaveholding Republic: An Account of the United States Government's Relations to Slavery
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page *
  • Contents vii
  • Preface ix
  • The Slaveholding Republic 1
  • 1 - Introduction 3
  • 2 - Slavery and the Founding of the Republic 15
  • 3 - Slavery in the National Capital 49
  • 4 - Slavery in American Foreign Relations 89
  • 5 - The African Slave Trade, 1789 to 1842 135
  • 6 - The African Slave Trade, 1842 to 1862 173
  • 7 - The Fugitive Slave Problem to 1850 205
  • 8 - The Fugitive Slave Problem, 1850 to 1864 231
  • 9 - Slavery in the Federal Territories 253
  • 10 - The Republican Revolution 295
  • 11 - Conclusion 339
  • Notes 345
  • Index 453
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