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Economics of Slavery and Expansion

The economics of slavery was greatly dependent on the expansion into the mainland United States. Multiple factors affected the actual expansion such as the developing states had been either free, slave, or undecided states during the 1800s and much of the expansion into the west of the country. Another factor to impact the expansion was the discourse over slavery became significantly apparent and led to many deals and agreements, such as the Missouri Compromise.

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The 1820 Compromise explained that Missouri would join the union as a slave state, which would be balanced by Maine, a free state, though slavery would not be permitted in the northern Louisiana Territory. Before this agreement, the Ohio River was what separated the free states from the slave ones. The expansion returned when the Compromise was disturbed by the Mexican-American war in 1846. Additionally, the production of cotton had a vital impact on both territorial expansion and the economic foundations of slavery. Innovations such as railroads were another factor. Furthermore, religion and ideologies fueled a lot of migration.

By the 1850s, over fifty percent of slaves in the south of the United States worked in cotton production. Many factors influenced the way that slavery became part of the new economy. First, many of the slave-holding movements were directed by agricultural and industrial opportunities. In the late 1700s, only six states in the south worked with cotton but by 1850, the number of states increased to thirteen. Second, much of the demand was driven by British buyers while internal slave trading and business were also profitable. Third, plantations in the lower south rejected urbanization and industrialization, often refusing education or proper infrastructure for their slaves.

However, within urban settings, slaves were often artisans, domestic, or semi-skilled workers. Fourth, the work with cotton and other plantation work in the south was incredibly demanding and unrewarding. The slaves frequently did not receive essentials or nutritional diets. The system was oppressive with many incidences of extreme violence, sexual exploitation, and coercion. Fifth, the oppressive conditions led to several rebellions which often resulted in capital punishment, withholding of prior rights, and further discriminatory policy changes.

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