Today in South Carolina is Confederate Memorial Day. It is a day set aside in seven states, all of them Southern ones that are designed to honor fallen Confederate soldiers. I can’t help but shake my head in wonder that a war in which well over 600,00 people perished, for a reason which essentially boiled down to government control, economics and ownership of human beings, is being remembered in such a way by only the states who found themselves the instigators and the ultimate losers of that war.
Slavery had always been mostly a southern matter as most northerners had given up on slavery by the Revolutionary war. One can remember indentured servants, which occurred prior to the Revolutionary war. These were people who went under contract for a set period of time, usually seven years, after which they were granted freedom from their indentured contract. That contract offered passage, food, clothing and shelter in exchange for work for the contract holder. Many Europeans chose this route as a passage to America and a chance at a new and better life.
The folks who came to the US from Africa had no such option. They were forced to leave their homes, and were never given a time frame where they could have a chance to start life on their own. In both cases however life was very hard for the indentured servant or the slave. Their lives were not their own. They could be sold to new masters, could be punished, often violently so. Women had it especially hard. They had little rights because of gender, and were in danger of sexual violence of which they had little or no protection.
The practice of indentured servant hood gradually evolved into the practice of apprenticeship as the population grew. The need for trade skills grew in demand, and more families wanted their children to have an education. Apprenticeship was a method where people would go under contract to earn a trade and get at least some education.
Reading the history of the decades leading up to the tragedy called the civil war, one can quickly surmise that there was certainly a difference between the way the southern states ran their economy and the way the north did.
The attempt to end slavery in the US had begun with the abolitionist movement of the 1820’s. The expansion period were several states and territories were added to the United States became a sticking point as Southern States wanted new states and territories to allow slavery. Missouri and Kansas were key hot points in that debate. In Kansas fighting broke out over the matter that lasted for three years as a result of something called The Missouri Compromise, which was enacted in an attempt to give states the ability to have popular sovereignty.