Slave Labor Became Important to the South
| Cotton Gin
- 75% of Southerners owned no slaves at all.
- 3% of Southerners owned 20 slaves or more.
- Subsistence farming meant it would be hard to feed an extra slave
laborer, and because of very cold winters, there would not be much
agricultural work for slave laborers : not profitable which was why New
England farmers didn't use much slave labor.
- Not much work during cold winter months which was not profitable and why
Middle Colony farmers didn't use much slave labor.
- Long growing season allowed for large plantations,
which needed many field workers. This is why Southern Colony farmers
used slave labor.
- Primogeniture (pry-mah-jen-ih-chur) : when a man died, this old
British legal system stated that all his land went to his oldest
- Since the land was not divided up, a large labor force was continually
needed, as the amount of crop land stayed the same from generation
- To solve the problem caused by primogeniture for younger sons,
fathers bought uncultivated
land in the back country and gave it to them.
- Effect of giving uncultivated lands to their younger sons was the increased
demand for slave labor.
The Cotton Gin
- Southern cotton growers couldn't fill the world demand for cotton
because it took too long to clean.
- It would take a worker 50 days to clean 50 pounds of cotton by
- Cotton gin : a machine
that cleaned cotton 50 times faster than doing it by hand!
- After the invention of the cotton gin, it only took a worker 1
day to clean 50 pounds of cotton.
- The first unintended effect of the cotton gin was more land taken
away from Native Americans.
- The second unintended effect was the increased demand for slave labor.
A Slave's Life
- When slaves were sold from one region or state to another within
the same country, it was called domestic slave trading.
- Owners didn't want to beat their slaves to death because buying
them was expensive, so they were considered to be too valuable to
- A slave is whipped before going into the field and made to pick
as fast as he can . The cotton he picked is weighed that night.
This is the minimum amount of cotton he would now be expected to
pick each day. This is how plantation owners found out how much cotton
a new slave could pick in a day.
- Plantation owners wanted to find the slave's capability in cotton
picking so that they would know when a slave was being lazy and
- Slaves were expected to work in the fields from the first light
of day until it was too dark to see, with the exception of 10-15 minutes
to eat lunch.
- A slave could not leave the field until an order was given by
the driver to halt. A slave is punished by whipping if they didn't
pick their expected amount of cotton.
- When a slave picked more cotton than their expected amount, this
new weight would become their new expected daily amount.
- After the weighing and the whippings, the slaves must attend to
- Once a slave returned to their cabin, they started a fire, ground
the corn, and prepared supper, and lunch for the next day.
- Some of a slave's fears during cotton-picking time : oversleeping,
being caught lagging during the day, and approaching the gin house
with his basket-load of cotton at night.