Explain the proslavery and abolitionist arguments of the Antebellum period.

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Proslavery arguments in the South were economic, religious, historical, and social. Southern whites argued that their economy would collapse without slave labor. This was the "necessary evil" argument. They reasoned that nobody would harvest the cotton, sugar, and tobacco if slavery were abolished. The crops would rot and the United States as a whole would suffer. The agrarian economy of the South benefitted the entire country, not just Southern plantation owners, and helped to make the United States a powerful country. Since the Southern economy could only run effectively with low-cost slave labor, some argued, slavery was here to stay.

Proslavery proponents also turned to the Bible's seeming endorsement of slavery in such verses as "slaves, obey your masters." If the Bible approved of it, this argument went, it must be an acceptable institution. Further, the historical argument contended that slavery had built great civilizations in the past, such as ancient Greece and Rome, and...

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