Slavery has been of significant importance in American history.
During the antebellum period, slavery undergirded the economy of the United
States, dominated politics and eventually led to the war between the North
and South (Institution 1991).After the Civil War, the legacy left behind
of slavery continued to influence American history, from the Reconstruction
era of the 1860’s and 1870’s to the struggle of civil rights during the
twentieth century (Institution 1991).
After the American Revolution, slavery became an institution in the
With the invention of the cotton gin in 1793, cotton production rose
sharply and the demand for slaves increased (Institution 1991).When the
Revolution began, there were approximately half a million slaves in the
United States, North and South, and on the eve of the Civil War there were
four million slaves, confined entirely to the South (Institution 1991).
Slaveholdings in the South varied according to size, location, and
crops produced and slavery in cities differed substantially from that in
the countryside (Institution 1991).Slaves served as skilled craftsmen,
preachers, nurses, drivers, mill workers, field hands and house servants
(Institution 1991).During the antebellum period, slaves made up about one-
third of the southern population (Institution 1991).Slavery in the South
was not only an economic investment, it was a way of life.
There were 490,308 slaves in 1860 eastern Virginia belonging to
48,308 slaveholders, averaging over ten slaves per owner and in western
Virginia there were some 18,451 slaves belonging to 3,820 slaveholders,
averaging less than six slaves per owner (West pg).Due to the decline of
plantation agriculture in the 1800’s, slaves were no longer profitable in
the east, so slaves were hired out or sold usually to the salt industry
(West pg).This was the major introduction of slaves into we…