Impact of Slavery

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Many depict slavery as a regional institution of cruelty in the South, however, it is also certain that it is the minds behind the broader American economic prosperity in the north. The slave economy in the south had gradually expanding influences all through the whole U.S. economy, mostly due to a lot of merchants in Boston, New York City, and anywhere else arranging the exchange of slave-developed agrarian items and getting very wealthy.

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Cotton was offering a purpose behind business merchants and creators in the north to manufacture factories in such places as Lowell, Portsmouth, Rhode Island, etc., creating a connection between New England’s Industrial Revolution to the advancing Deep South. During the years of slavery in the American Republic, cotton impacted the economic development of not just the South, but the North too. Although the United States of America had acquired much of Europes innovations at the time of the Industrial Revolution, an exceptional amount of American innovations and technologies came about at the beginning of the early nineteenth century that would greatly impact the north. These inventions impacted manufacturing, communication, and especially agriculture in the south (Lecture, 10-22-18). Modern technologies and innovations offered ascend to the Cotton Kingdom.

The Cotton Kingdom demanded constant growth, and slavery would likely have spread if not for the Civil War (Lecture, 11-9-18). Cotton fiber is famously and historically known to be difficult to separate from the seed by hand. Eli Whitneys cotton gin separated the fiber from the seed quickly and efficiently; and in the 1790s, led to the expansion of cotton plantations in the following years (Lecture, 10-24-18). With the cotton gin and with steam engines moving production, the manufacturing of cotton cloth suddenly became affordable as the 18th century turned into the 19th century (Lecture, 10-24-18). The cotton gin enabled more material to be generated. Whitney couldn’t have anticipated the way by which his development would change society for the even worse. The most important, the development of slavery. While the thought is to demonstrate that the cotton gin lessened the work of removing seeds, it didn’t diminish the requirement for the slaves to grow and pick the cotton, but did indeed impact the north for the better.

Cotton developing turned out to be so beneficial for the plantation owners that it significantly expanded their interest for both land and slave work (Lecture, 10-24-18). Demand was powered by different innovations of the Industrial Revolution, for example, the machines to turn and weave it, and the steamboats to transport it (Lecture, 10-22-18). Midcentury America was growing seventy-five percent of the world’s supply of cotton, its majority dispatched to England or New England where it was produced into fabric (Lecture, 10-22-18). And, it was all due to the invention of quality steam engines which had the impact of an enormous increase of cotton production (Lecture, 10-22-18). Steam engines, in theory, were the back bones of the industrial revolution. Before steam engines were invented, manufactories were limited. However, with the modern innovation of the steam engine, mills, and manufactories could be located in so many more locations. As cotton was becoming a tremendous cash crop, slavery was given a new role.

If the cotton gin, steam engines, and other technologies were not created, slavery may have been able to slowly go away. With a new huge demand for cotton at this time, much more land and labor was needed, meaning that this new face of slavery was to spread across even more southern states, and especially impact the north. Slaves were often owned by affluent families who benefited from a thriving economy. One of these families was the Goodwin family; specifically Ichabod Goodwin, a successful merchant. Goodwin soon became a merchant in Portsmouth, New Hampshire and becoming master and part owner of several ships, and eventually the owner of banks, railroads, and textile factories.

Cotton production and cargo was the main power behind these technologies, specifically Goodwins ships and textiles factories. Cotton cargo being sent to the north gave these ship captains and textile manufactures in the north immense wealth. With all this wealth in merchants hands, slaves were clearly not given reciprocation for their work nearly as much as the merchants and northern businessmen. An important part of Goodwins history is documented in the University of New Hampshires Special Collections as a letter sent to a ship captain from Goodwin himself, gives great insight to how cotton production fueled not only his wealth, but the northern economy (Goodwin and Coues, Letter to William Parsons.) In 1838 from Portsmouth, New Hampshire, Ichabod Goodwin sent a letter to William Parsons, a ship captain. At this time, Goodwin was a business merchant and sailor himself, asking Parsons about the best price he can get for a shipment of cotton cargo and whether it would be better to ship it to a Portsmouth mill or to Liverpool (Goodwin and Coues, Letter to William Parsons.)

This primary source is a great document to exemplify how cotton from the south effected the economy in the north through profits off of cotton cargo shipments being sent from the south to the north. Indeed, New England manufactories were taking in large amounts of southern cotton as the mills advanced the U.S. as the second greatest textile producer in the entire nation. During the years of slavery in the American Republic, cotton impacted the economic development of not just the South, but the North too. Amid the 1850s, the U.S. economy developed quickly, driven by offers of open land, cotton creation, and manufactories of textiles. In 1860 the south produced more than a couple billion pounds of cotton (Lecture, 10-22-18).

Additionally, cotton trades represented sixty percent of the nation’s fares, the majority of which were dealt with by New York City, the newer outlet for the United States. The South provided eighty percent of the cotton for materials produced in Britain and the majority of the cotton for materials made in New England’s factories. The economy of America at the time was in-between a transition headed to the Civil War. The economy was first almost purely agrarian, which would then transition into an industrial revolution, making America a great leader for industrial power. The North was now well on its way to making huge impacts from slavery and production of materials from the south. Slavery was indeed the driver behind American economic prosperity in the north. 

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Impact Of Slavery. (2019, May 17). Retrieved January 30, 2023 , from

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