U.S. History
Material Type:
Ohio Open Ed Collaborative
Antebellum South, History, Ohs0432, Slavery
Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial
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Education Standards

The Antebellum South 1800-1860

The Antebellum South 1800-1860


"Nine new slave states entered the Union between 1789 and 1860, rapidly expanding and transforming the South into a region of economic growth built on slave labor... By the mid-nineteenth century, southern commercial centers like New Orleans had become home to the greatest concentration of wealth in the United States. While most white southerners did not own slaves, they aspired to join the ranks of elite slaveholders, who played a key role in the politics of both the South and the nation. Meanwhile, slavery shaped the culture and society of the South, which rested on a racial ideology of white supremacy and a vision of the United States as a white man’s republic. Slaves endured the traumas of slavery by creating their own culture and using the Christian message of redemption to find hope for a world of freedom without violence." - OpenStax U.S. History, Chap. 12 Intro

[Image - a panel of "Slave Market of America", A broadside published by the American Anti-Slavery Society in 1836 - Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Division ]

Learning Objectives

  • Explain how inventions such as the cotton gin and textile machinery contributed to the rise of the cotton economy.
  • Describe the slave labor system, including identification of the ways in which slave labor was used.
  • Describe the development of social classes in the South, and compare and contrast Southern society with that of the industrial North.
  • Compare and Contrast the labor systems of the Northern and Southern United States.
  • Explain how isues such as westward expansion influenced and were influenced by the institution of slavery.

Module Supplemental Readings/Videos

Glossary of Key Terms

antebellum:  The period before the American Civil War.

cash crop: a crop grown to be sold for profit instead of consumption by the farmer's family

cotton boom: The upswing in American cotton production during the nineteenth century

Nat Turner's rebellion: Virginia slave revolt that resulted in the deaths of sixty whites and raised fears among white Southerners of further uprisings.

paternalism: The premise that southern white slaveholders acted in the best interests of their slaves

peculiar institution: Term for the institution of American slavery in the South, used to reflect a growing division between the North and the South.

polygenism: The idea that blacks and whites come from different origins

yeomen farmer: One who owned a modest farm and worked it primarily with family labor.

Instructor Resources

Classroom excercises pertaining to the Antebellum South.