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18 T H E C O M I N G O F T H E C I V I L W A R IN 1860 the white population of North Carolina was 629,932. In that year more than 272,000 nativesof the state were livingelsewhere, whereas fewer than 24,000 people who livedin the state were born somewhere else. There were 361,522 blacks of whom 30,463 were free. Of all the Southern states, only Virginia had more free blacks. In the South as a whole there were 300owners of 300 or more slaves, undoubtedly millionaires, but only 4 of them were North Carolinians. The census further showed that some 30,000 people were engaged in "commerce, trade, manufacturing, mechanic arts and mining" while about 19,000 were farm laborers. There were 85,000 farmers in the state, but less than 27,000 of them owned any slaves at all. Among slave owners in the Coastal Plain only about i in 20 had 20 or more slaves, and in the Piedmont only about i in50 had that many.Ownership of 20 or more slaves marked one asa "planter," so itis clear that North Carolina was a state of farmers and not planters. Slave owners in the state constituted a small minority and a special interest group, but with political influence completely out of proportion to its actual voting strength or the total valuation of its property. As members of a special interest group, slaveholders were alert even to such moderate recognition of political privileges as the free Negro suffrage, which was almost retained by the 1835 constitutional convention. They also were sensitive to the mild social and economic reformssuggested for the improvementof working conditions among both the free and the slave populations. Although in the early colonial period a slave owner was considered to have absolute authority over this form of property, the law had changed greatly by 1860. It was then established that the master owned just the slave's labor and could not takehisor herlife with impunity. Slaves,nevertheless,wererequired to work, while the master was obliged to feed, clothe, and care for them. These were the terms of ownership, sometimes considered as an employer-employee relationship. Southern defendersof slavery concluded that a similarrelationship existed in other states where there was little or no slavery. In those states the employer 328 Map 5. Slave Population in 1860 330 North Carolina,through four Centuries bought not the person, ofcourse, but the labor ofthe employee, payingwagesby the hour, week, or month. In theory, the mutual obligations consisted of the payment of wages and the performance of labor. Terms might be by written contract or merely verbal, but in either case they were relativelysimple. Legally, of course, employers had no authority over their employees outside of working hours, but slave owners did—or at least attempted to exercise it. The Southern planter who wasconcerned about the welfare of his slaves had as his counterpart, it waspointed out, the Northern industrialist whose concern was reflected in the prosperity of the community where his business was located. The cruel and arrogant master in the South wasalso matched by the driving and despotic millowner whose wageworkers were bound to him by what Edmund Ruffin called "slavery to want." Apologists for slavery at the time maintained that the differences between the voluntary servitude of the masses of industrial workers and the involuntaryservitude of the Southern blacksconsisted in alarger degree of economic and social security for the black slaves. It has been suggested that slaves often had more physical comforts of life than Northern industrial workers. The privilege to move about, however, wasnot considered. The immigration of workers from Germany, Holland, Scandinavia, and Ireland beginning in 1830 provided a ready source of labor for the mines, mills, and factories of the North. Becauseof the presence of an involuntary labor system , these immigrants rarelychose to settle in the South. There were afewin the coastal cities, including Wilmington, North Carolina, but fewsettled elsewhere. In the late colonial period the Piedmont section of North Carolina was settled by people who came from a variety of places and largely from non-English backgrounds. With their own labor they cleared land and farmed it. A few eventually owned slaves, but for them slaves simply provided a somewhat easierstyle of living; they did not actuallydepend on slave labor. Basically the same kind of people lived in the interior from Pennsylvaniadown into Georgia. Many of them would later comprise the great...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9781469604466
Related ISBN
9780807818466
MARC Record
OCLC
966898551
Pages
670
Launched on MUSE
2017-01-01
Language
English
Open Access
No
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