SLAVERY -NOT JUST IN THE SOUTH
This 1851 poster warned free blacks in Boston against talking to city police and authorities who were cooperating with slavers
Slaves were part of American history almost from the beginning, and both Northern and Southern businessmen became rich from the slave trade
- Northern states permitted slavery in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, but outlawed it around the start of the nineteenth century.
- Even though slavery was not prevalent in the North, northern commercial and industrial centers (particularly textiles industries) had a vested interest in the survival of slavery in the South.
The North failed to develop large-scale agrarian slavery, such as later arose in the Deep South, but that had little to do with morality and much to do with climate and economy.
Slaves that lived in the North were often domestic servants or bondsmen to small farmers and rural iron works. Unlike in the South, Northern farms were not large-scale enterprises that focused on producing one cash crop. They were often smaller, more agriculturally diversified enterprises that required fewer laborers. Hence, the need for enslaved bondsmen gradually dwindled–especially as rapid soil depletion and the growth of industry in northern cities attracted many rural northerners to wage labor cities.
Advent of the cotton gin, which supplied the North with the surplus of raw cotton necessary to produce finished goods for export. Northern industry and commerce relied on Southern cash crop production and therefore, while slavery was actively abolished in the North, most northerners were content to allow slavery to flourish in the Southern states until conflicts over the admission of slave states into the union in the mid-nineteenth century incited northern opposition to the expansion of Southern slavery.
Source: Boundless. “Slavery in the North.” Boundless U.S. History.