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The Contribution of Slavery to Both Economic Backwardness and Westward Expansion

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Slavery did, in fact, encourage both economic backwardness and westward expansion. The invention of the cotton gin and increase in slaves needed to operate this machinery drew southern plantation owners into the “black belt” and further into western territory in need for fertile soil that would increase profits. Southerners had historically taken the lead in westward expansion, needing more land to harvest crops and produce profits. Western expansion once again took place at the expense of the region’s Indian population. To southern plantation owners, cotton profits and expansion went hand in hand.

Slavery had shown signs of economic and social backwardness as well as it created a greater class division and moved further from democracy. The slave system resulted in the need of Indian removal, producing a clear class system. There was no room in the southern social order for Indian peoples, who were too civilized to be slaves yet not fit to be slave owners. By 1808, the importation of slaves was abolished, but with the realization of the riches to be made from cotton, small groups of slaves continued to be smuggled in and internal slave trade increased dramatically as their importance was heavily needed. Many of the plantation owners in the South sold their slaves to meet the demand for labor in the new and expanding cotton-growing regions of the Old Southwest. Just as the international slave trade had been the dynamic force in the Atlantic economy of the 18th century, southern slavery financed northern industrial development in the 19th century. The south failed to industrialize and grow, entirely left behind in the transportation revolution. However, since they had such a tightly controlled slave system, it wouldn’t be beneficial to introduce free wage labor. Also, they didn’t see a need to invest in economically risky railroads, canals and factories. Because of such a cotton-based economy, the economic class system was becoming more and more unequal. An excess of poor whites and slaves lived in the south while a few of the wealthy plantation owners monopolized a large portion of the industry. Although America tried to move more towards a democracy, a lot of southerners were being controlled by a small percentage of prosperous plantation owners.

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The Contribution Of Slavery To Both Economic Backwardness And Westward Expansion. (2018, October 16). GradesFixer. Retrieved September 24, 2021, from
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