What rationales did slave owners use to justify owning another person?

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pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Slaveowners used a number of rationales to defend the idea of owning other human beings.  Among them were:

  • Religious arguments.  These arguments held that blacks were destined by God to be servants of whites.  They also pointed out that the Bible did not condemn slavery.
  • Racial arguments.  These rationales held that blacks were so inferior to whites that they needed white people to take care of them.  Such a life was better than a life in Africa.
  • Comparisons with wage labor.  Many Southerners argued that life as a slave in the South was better than life as a paid laborer in the North.  They argued slavery was a more humane system that gave owners incentives to care for their slaves.  Factory owners in the North had no such incentives to care for their workers.