XI
THE DEFENSE OF SLAVERY

THE INSTITUTION OF SLAVERY was more than two hundred years old in America before there was any real agitation for its abolition. The Constitutional Convention of 1787, it is true, expressed considerable anti-slavery feeling, but expressed it in a philosophical rather than a crusading tone. Virginians, at that time, were beginning to feel that a slave economy had ceased to be profitable, and this view came to be held, in varying degrees, through most of the Old South. For a time, there seemed to be a trend toward the elimination of slavery wholly for economic reasons. Two happenings completely reversed this trend: the opening of the New South with its rich cotton lands; and the invention of the cotton gin. Slavery again became profitable. It regained much of its importance in the Atlantic States and spread rapidly into the newly opened territory of the Deep South. The rise of the Cotton Kingdom in Alabama, therefore, coincided with the period of the maximum expansion of slavery and with the appearance of the first organized opposition to it.

Under the leadership of William Lloyd Garrison and the Abolitionists, the campaign against slavery was launched in 1831. In the next three decades it grew in intensity and fervor until it assumed all the aspects of a crusade. Slave-holders, secure in the belief that possession is nine points of the law, were complacent at first. But they were soon startled to find that the furor was more serious than the prattling of a group of fussy busybodies. Politicians of the Northern states seized upon the slavery issue as a sharp new weapon, and won votes by denouncing the barbaric and unchristian institution. Slowly, under the pressure of necessity, the slave

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