Slavery in the Nineteenth Century Questions and Answers

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From 1775 to 1830, many African Americans gained freedom from slavery, yet during the same period, the institution of slavery expanded. How did both of those changes take place? How did both free African Americans and enslaved African Americans respond to the challenges confronting them?

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During this period, slavery expanded in some areas of the United States while it disappeared in others. This has much to do with two factors. One was the result of different economies in different parts of the country. The other had to do with changing societal values.

In terms of different economies, the Southern states continued to rely on agrarianism. Large plantations growing cash crops like cotton, indigo, and tobacco required large amounts of unskilled labor. Slavery had long been used to fill the needs of the workforce in this region. With the invention of the cotton gin in 1793, cotton production flourished, requiring even more slaves. Furthermore, as the industrial revolution and increased trade got underway in Europe and the Northern states, the demand for these raw materials increased. This naturally increased the need for labor on the plantations.

Meanwhile, the economy of the Northern states was shifting. Factories required more skilled laborers. These jobs were not...

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