Slavery and Politics in the Early American Republic

By Matthew Mason | Go to book overview

6
Defending against Slavery

CHANGES IN SOUTHERN slavery wrought by white as well as black Americans helped make the years between the War of 1812 and the Missouri Crisis a seminal period in the development of antislavery Northern sectionalism. During these years, antislavery principles ruled the realms of ethics and rhetoric, but slavery was on the offensive on the ground. Although American slavery had been expanding its territory throughout the early national period, the results of the War of 1812 rendered its growth explosive. Andrew Jackson's wartime career contributed most directly, not only by confirming the United States' possession of the Louisiana Purchase at the Battle of New Orleans, but also by conquering vast Indian territory in the Southwest; in short, Jackson's troops secured the future Cotton Kingdom for the United States. Southern planters could not fill these new lands with slave laborers and cultivate cotton quickly enough.1

The aggressiveness of the postwar American slave regime brought slavery home to the Mid-Atlantic and Northwest, whose residents were hardest pressed to keep it at a distance. Whites in these areas who had evinced only nebulous disapproval of black bondage in the South gained a new clarity with the perception that slaveholders were encroaching on their own freedoms. Those who cared only about the rights of white citizens could thus join with those who cared about blacks' rights to oppose the sale and kidnapping of Northern African Americans to servitude in the South, or to resist the threatened spread of slavery to the Northwest. All Northern states hoped to shore up their status as free states by distancing themselves from slavery, but those closest to the South found it the hardest to do so. The vague but latently powerful antislavery impulses of the Revolution thus gained concrete meaning and organized expression in states north of the permeable border with slavery

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Slavery and Politics in the Early American Republic
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Slavery and Politics in the Early American Republic iii
  • Contents vii
  • Illustrations and Maps ix
  • Acknowledgments xi
  • Introduction 1
  • 1: Slavery and Politics to 1808 9
  • 2: Federalists, Republicans, and Slavery During the War of 1812 42
  • 3: Slavery and Partisan Conflict During the Era of Good Feelings 75
  • 4: Slavery in Anglo-American Relations 87
  • 5: The Political Impact of African Americans 106
  • 6: Defending Against Slavery 130
  • 7: Defending Slavery 158
  • 8: Commencement Exercises: the Missouri Crisis 177
  • 9: Antebellum Legacies 213
  • Notes 239
  • Bibliography 305
  • Index 331
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