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The Relationship betwen Masters Slaves till 1861 It is possible to say that the period between the end of the Revolution and the beginning of the Civil War was the most important in terms of the development of the so called Peculiar Institution of slavery In order to define the changing master - slave relationship one must look at the historical background to Southern slavery The defining characteristics or outside influences provide the key to an understanding of the master - slave relationship during this period Slavery seemed a very mutable institution which changed constantly to adapt to the different situation The main contention of this essay is that what started off as an essentially economic institution in order to help boost production of staple crops like cotton sugar and tobacco developed into the definitive characteristic of the emerging Ante - Bellum South As the Civil War seemed inevitable in 1861 one of the key questions was whether the South would be able to protect its Peculiar Institution Although slavery began in 1619 it was essentially confined 73 to the Eastern seaboard states throughout the Seventeenth and most of the eighteenth century It wasnt until after the Revolution that slavery really became the major source of Southern labour Due to the continuing geographical expansion in the South the mainstay of the economy became the growing of staple crops like sugar tobacco and later cotton Along with certain technological inventions made it seem more likely that the Southern economy was going to be based on slave labour As Boles argues in Black Southerners before 1800 technological breakthroughs at both ends of the South made possible the remarkably rapid rise of a slave-staple crop society in the deep South 1 At the end of the Revolutionary period in 1790 there were 657527 slaves and by 1810 there were 1163854 2 This massive expansion meant that the key
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