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After the War of 1812 the United States entered into a period where cotton became the popular crop in the South--this was sometimes referred to as the "cotton boom." The demand for cotton in Great Britain and in the Northern United States allowed it to quickly become a substantial cash crop for the South. Southern farmers found that cotton was easier to store and transport compared to other crops such as tobacco, rice, and sugar. The ease of storage and transport as well as the falling prices of other crops, caused many of the farmers in the south to begin growing cotton instead. The increase of cotton growth and harvesting lead to an increased need for slaves by southern farmers. Many southern slave states were also added to the United States which further increased the need for slaves. There were many in the North that wished to abolish slavery, but southern farmers felt that it was unlikely since the North depended on their slave-produced cotton crops for their textile mills. The North's desire to abolish slavery threatened the South's way of life and their dependence on slaves economically. (OpenStax, 2014).

When northerners argued against slavery, many white southerners argued that wage labor was also form of slavery present in the North. They insisted that wage labor was worse than slave labor because slaveholders took care of all aspects of a slave's life including their food, shelter, and health while wage labor did not provide enough wages for workers needs and often exposed them to horrible conditions (OpenStax, 2014; Stanley, 1998).


OpenStax. (2014, December 30). U.S. History. OpenStax College. Retrieved from

Stanley, Amy Dru. From Bondage to Contract: Wage, Labor, Marriage, and the Market in the Age of Slave Emancipation. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998. Print.

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