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.