By 1819, the population of Missouri had grown to the point where it was ready for statehood. Ten thousand slaves already lived in Missouri. As such, It was assumed Missouri would become a slave state. On February 13th James Tallmadge, a Congressman from Poughkeepsie, New York, introduced a resolution in Congress making two modifications to the Missouri Enabling Act (The Enabling Act would give Missouri statehood). This act would ban any further importation of slaves into Missouri. It would also set in motion the gradual emancipation of the slaves currently residing in Missouri. Raising these modifications, a one term Congressman began a battle over slavery that was only ended by the Civil War. Obviously the Tallmadge amendment was not acceptable to the Southern states. The Congress was deadlocked until a compromise could be found. That compromise became known as “The Missouri Compromise”. Under the terms of the compromise, Missouri was to be admitted as a slave state, while Maine was admitted as a free state. The rest of the territory acquired from France (north of the latitude 36’30’) would be free states, while south of that point would be slave states.
The Missouri Compromise (1819) set a number of precedents. First, states would enter the Union in pairs– a slave state and a free state. This compromise helped the Southern states, as they were often admitted to the Union sooner than they would normally have been admitted (in order to keep the balance). Second, the Missouri Compromise delayed the sectional breakup of the Jefferson’s Republican party. The battle over Missouri signified a solidification of the Southern opposition to the eventual emancipation of the slaves. Until the fight over Missouri’s admission to the Union, there was some hope the South would follow the path indicated by many of the founders; a path leading to the eventual voluntary emancipation of all slaves. By the time the Missouri Compromise was reached, it was clear this was not meant to be.
After the Revolutionary War the South was looking for a new crop to replace Indigo, whose trade it had lost during the war to India. One possibility was cotton. However, traditional cotton, known as long staple, or Egyptian cotton, could only be grown on the Atlantic Islands of the US. It required a very long growing season and sandy soil. The alternative was short season cotton. Though that cotton has sticky seeds that were very difficult to separate. Then, Eli Whitney came on to the scene.
Whitney heard about how difficult it was to gin (or clean) cotton. He thought of a machine that would be able to do it. He studded a roller with nails, one half inch apart. The roller could then be turned and the nails would pass through a grid. The roller pulled the cotton lint through the grid, leaving the seed behind. The lint would then be pulled off the nails while the seeds would fall off separately. A single laborer could now gin what it took 25 laborers to get done before. This made farming upland cotton economically feasible for the first time.
The effect of the development the cotton gin was unprecedented. In 1793, the United States produced about five million pounds of cotton– almost all of it the Sea Island type. This represented less than 1% of the world’s production of cotton. By 1860, the US was producing 2 billion pounds of cotton– over 75% of the world’s cotton production.
The effect of the growth of the cotton industry on slavery was overwhelming. Before the introduction of the Gin, the need for slaves was modest, and slaves were not considered that valuable. Before the Gin, a slave was could be bought for $300. By the time of the Civil War, the cost for a slave was $3,000. Cotton farming was a labor-intensive endeavor– even with the Cotton Gin. However, slavery made the labor of cotton very profitable.
As the Civil War drew to a close how to treat those states that had left the Union was a significant challenge. President Lincoln had a forgiving attitude and believed that the states never actually left the Union, and thus believed that all the states needed to do was accept the 13th amendment outlawing slavery. They then had to a elect new local governments and send their representatives to Washington. When Lincoln was assassinated Vice President Johnson took over. As the only Senator from the South to remain loyal during the Civil War he was not totally trusted by the Northerns. Johnson continued Lincoln’s policies towards the Southern states, but without Lincolns prestige, Johnson was opposed by the Republicans in the Congress. Johnson’s task was made harder by the actions of the Southern States in passing “Black Codes”- laws that put restrictions on the freed slaves.
The Republicans in the Congress who became known as the Radical Republicans never accepted Lincoln approach and believed that it was up to the legislative branch to allow states to fully return to the Union. In 1867 they passed the Reconstruction Act that assigned the military of the role of organizing local government, making sure that ex slaves received the full right to vote, and denied the right to vote to supporters of the confederacy. The South was divided into five military districts and the goal of the military was to ensure that African Americans were able to vote. The military oversaw the election process, and were responsible to make sure that all people holding office had taken an oath to the United States. Under the act for a state to be readmitted to the Union it had to approve the 14th amendment guaranteeing all men the right to vote.
President Johnson opposed the Reconstruction Act and vetoed it. His veto was easily overridden by Congress and became law. New governments were elected in the South and they included many African Americans.
In 1741, four African slaves lived in the colony for every 1.2 free white. This imbalanced population combined with high mortality, the threat of conflict with Native Americans, shortages of food and goods, and isolation produced a colony in which African, French, and Spanish cultures blended to create a unique culture known as Creole. Because most of the Africans who first arrived in Louisiana were of one nation, the Bambara, they succeeded in preserving their language and culture and, through their solidarity, ultimately acted as an Africanizing influence on Louisiana. European colonists, aware of their precarious position in the colony, were inclined to work together with slaves and afford them some rights under the Code Noir.
While the system was certainly brutal for African slaves, the harsh conditions of life in Louisiana resulted in difficulties for all settlers. Since many of the colonists were themselves rejected by French society and forced into exile in Louisiana as criminals or debtors, historian Gwendolyn Midlo Hall states, “Africans arrived in an extremely fluid society where a socio-racial hierarchy was ill defined and hard to enforce.” Hall expertly sums up the situation in colonial Louisiana, “Desperation transcended race and even, to some extent, status, leading to cooperation among diverse peoples.” Though the arrival of Anglo-Americans with the Louisiana Purchase resulted in stricter laws governing slavery and narrower views in terms of race, Louisiana society would remain more diverse, fluid, and racially ambiguous than the other Southern slave states.
The Code Noir was established in 1724 to regulate slavery in colonial Louisiana. The Code Noir stated that slaves were to be instructed in the Catholic faith, given food and clothing allowances, and allowed to rest on Sundays and the right to petition a public prosecutor if they were mistreated. Also, young children had to be sold with their mothers. The Code Noir prohibited slaves from owning property or testify against whites.
The Underground Railroad was started in order to provide a means for escaped slaves to be safely spirited through the north until they reached sanctuary in Canada. The railroads borrowed heavily from the vocabulary of standard railroads, thus those who helped guide the slaves were conductors, and the places that they hid along the way stations. Between 1850-1860 1,000 slaves a year made use of the Underground Railroad to escape to Canada and freedom.
Most of the enslaved people helped by the Underground Railroad escaped border states such as Kentucky, Virginia and Maryland.
In the deep South, the Fugitive Slave Act of 1793made capturing escaped enslaved people a lucrative business, and there were fewer hiding places for them. Fugitive enslaved people were typically on their own until they got to certain points farther north.
People known as “conductors” guided the fugitive enslaved people. Hiding places included private homes, churches and schoolhouses. These were called “stations,” “safe houses,” and “depots.” The people operating them were called “stationmasters.”
There were many well-used routes stretching west through Ohio to Indiana and Iowa. Others headed north through Pennsylvania and into New England or through Detroit on their way to Canada.