Slavery and Abolition, 1831-1841

By Albert Bushnell Hart | Go to book overview
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IN a region like the south, engaged in one main industry, and that the cultivation of a staple crop, with crude labor and appliances, a simple social organization might have been predicted. On the contrary, there was a remarkable complexity of social units, including at least five different strata of the white race. At the top of the social pyramid stood the slave-holder, for in the slave he possessed the one tool which produced a surplus, and he also owned the large areas of land upon which that tool could be employed. This privileged class was small in proportion to the whole population. Out of 12,- 500,000 persons in the slave-holding communities in 1860, only about 384,000 persons, or one in thirtythree, was a slave-holder. These figures, often quoted in arguments against slavery, are somewhat deceptive. Since the property of a family was commonly vested in a single person, the true proportion would be about 350,000 white families out of perhaps 1,800,000; leaving out of account the white moun


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Slavery and Abolition, 1831-1841


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