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Why did the institution of slavery command the loyalty of the vast majority of ante-bellum whites, despite the fact that only a small percentage of them owned slaves?

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Many whites in the North supported slavery because they didn't understand the reality of what it was like for the enslaved. Many whites believed the ideology that the slaves were childlike creatures who were happy and well cared for by benign owners. Many whites, going along living their daily lives, didn't stop to imagine what it would be like to be owned by another person and subject to all their whims, with cruel punishments for disobedience. Many people didn't stop to note that sometimes the owner was a child, without a fully developed conscience, who was given a slave as a "gift."

Therefore, books that publicized and detailed the lives of slaves were important to changing hearts and minds. Former slave Frederick Douglass, for example, was at pains to counter arguments often used to justify slavery. For example, the seemingly happy singing of the slaves was often used to argue they were content with their...

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