Deliver Us from Evil: The Slavery Question in the Old South

Deliver Us from Evil: The Slavery Question in the Old South

Deliver Us from Evil: The Slavery Question in the Old South

Deliver Us from Evil: The Slavery Question in the Old South

Synopsis

Escaping historians' long-held fascination with the mature slaveholding society of the 1850s, Deliver Us from Evil recaptures the white South's struggle to reconcile slavery with its Revolutionary heritage from the era of the founders through the Age of Jackson. By focusing on the region'ssearch for answers to its slavery question, this book restores a sense of time and place to the study of slavery thought. The tensions inherent in this contested historical construction of the white South's answers to the slavery question revealed themselves in vigorous debates over theinternational and domestic slave trades, gradual emancipation and the colonization movement, the dangers of slave insurrection and the scope of appropriate security measures, the nature of the evangelical Christian mission to the enslaved, and the effectiveness of paternalism as a mode of slavemanagement. Moreover, contrasting sub-regional political economies and related patterns of racial demography insured that questions relating to slavery were framed differently in different parts of the South. In the upper South, where tobacco had fallen into comparative decline by 1800, debate often centered onhow the area might reduce its dependence on slave labor and "whiten" itself, whether through gradual emancipation and colonization or the sale of slaves to the cotton South. During the same years, the lower South swirled into the vortex of the "cotton revolution," and that area's whites lost allinterest in emancipation, no matter how gradual or fully-compensated. Debate in the cotton South centered on how to manage slavery so that lower South whites were both prosperous and safe. Ultimately, the upper South "answered" the slavery question through efforts to whiten itself demographically,while the lower South's "answer" lay in the contested embrace of racial paternalism as an ideology of slaveholding and as a firm foundation for white democracy.
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