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Friends and foes of Slavery: Foreigners and northerners in the old south.

In recent years scholarly scrutiny of the Old South has revealed a society more complex, and in particular, more ethnoculturally diverse, than previous generations of historians of the region had been inclined to believe. Remarkably large concentrations of foreigners and northerners made their homes in the antebellum South, especially in southern cities and towns. Some of their native-born neighbors doubted the loyalty of nonnatives to the South's peculiar institution of slavery. These doubts had some substantive foundation. Evidence drawn from the slave schedules of the federal census for five towns in the Deep South (Baton Rouge, Louisiana; Columbia, South Carolina; Montgomery, Alabama; Natchez, Mississippi; and Savannah, Georgia) suggests that white northerners and foreigners did not invest as much in slavery as native-born southerners did. (1) Although northerners and foreigners tended to be less prosperous than southerners and thus less able to afford slaves, the difference in levels of slaveholding amon g these nativity groups remains evident even after wealth differences are factored out. (2) Moreover, when these migrants to the South did make use of slaves, they were less likely than native southerners to persist in doing so. A close examination of diaries, letter collections, and memoirs written by both native and adoptive southerners of the period indicates that those born and reared outside the South were, in fact, likelier to harbor antislavery feelings. This attitudinal disparity probably accounted for a significant portion--though not all--of the differences in levels of slaveholding between native southerners and migrants to the region. (3)

One consequence of the large "outsider" presence in the Old South was to make southerners even more conflicted about the ethnocultural diversity of the region than northerners were about such diversity in the free states. Throughout America in the mid-nineteenth century, whites debated what place, if any, American society should have for Indians, blacks, Hispanics, Chinese, Mormons, Catholics, Jews, a variety of European immigrants--a debate often contentious and more than occasionally violent. The institution of slavery and the much larger number of blacks in the South than in the North meant that more was at stake in the southern debate about nonnative whites. (4) Not only were foreigners thus subject to intense scrutiny and suspicion, but so too were northern-born whites, adding an element of controversy and conflict far greater than the North experienced from its southern-born white population. (5) Public discourse about white diversity also proved even more intense in the South than the North because the suspect outsiders had a more sharply defined location: the cities and towns. (6)

The debate about white outsiders included all of the same issues in the South as in the North, but the key question in the southern argument was an additional, regionally distinctive concern: what was the relationship of foreigners and northerners living in the South to the institution of slavery? Some native southerners thought these migrants constituted an "enemy within" to slavery; some welcomed the newcomers as good citizens and supporters of slavery; yet others were ambivalent and unsure about assimilating outsiders. (7) In the cities and towns of the South, white outsiders were numerous enough--in fact, they constituted a majority of white adult males--that if many of them failed to support the peculiar institution, they could contribute considerably to the erosion of urban slavery. (8)

The fact that northerners and foreigners as groups truly did offer less active support for slavery, coupled with their tendency to cluster in the South's cities and towns, led the more suspicious among native southerners to distrust the region's urban population on issues related to slavery. Though they were few in the countryside, northerners and foreigners concentrated in large numbers in urban places. For example, in the eleven Deep and Middle South states in 1860, the foreign share of the white population was 38.6 percent in the six cities of 20,000 or more population (Charleston, Memphis, Mobile, New Orleans, Richmond, and Savannah); in the forty-nine towns with populations of 2,500 to 19,999, foreigners accounted for 18.2 percent of whites; and in rural areas and small urban places with fewer than 2,500 inhabitants, foreigners constituted only 2.0 percent of the white population.

The strength of the foreign and northern presence in southern cities and towns--particularly as a potential political force--was especially evident in the population of white adult males. Table 1 demonstrates that in the larger southern cities of 20,000+ population, foreigners and northerners together amounted to more than 2/3 of white males twenty-one years and older; in the sixty-four towns with populations of 2,500 to 19,999, foreigners and northerners as an aggregate accounted for more than 1/2 of white adult males. In the potential body politic, "outsiders" thus had a powerful numerical presence. (9) Their relationship to slavery, and native southerners' perceptions of that relationship, would impart to the South's ethnocultural relations--and urban-rural relations--a distinctive type of conflict not to be found in the North. (Certainly the North had a conflictual dimension to its own ethnocultural and urban-rural relations, but it was not one with any close connection to slavery.)

The behavior of nonnatives toward the institution of slavery can be gauged, at least in part, because it is possible to measure with a modicum of precision the extent to which southerners, both native and transplanted, owned or hired slaves at the historical moments in 1850 and 1860 when the U. S. Census Office enumerated the population. The antebellum census records for the southern states afford historians the opportunity to compare how much white foreigners, northerners, and native southerners actually used slaves. (10)

In both the 1850 and 1860 censuses the census marshals listed slave inhabitants on Schedule 2, showing slaveholders by name alone with no other identifying information, and listing slaves not by name but by age, gender, and color (black or mulatto). Thus, to identify the birthplace of slaveholders it is necessary to link the names from Schedule 2, to their listing on Schedule 1 (Free Inhabitants), which denoted their age, gender, nativity, occupation, value of real property, and--in 1860 but not 1850--value of personal property. Table 2 reports an example of this kind of analysis, focusing specifically on white men and women thirty years and older in Savannah, Georgia, in 1850. (11)

The 1850 census data for Savannah in Table 2 show much less incidence of slave use among foreigners (17.4 percent of men, 6.8 percent of women) than among northerners (41.6 percent of men, 10.1 percent of women), and northerners in turn used slaves less than southerners (53.1 percent of men, 18.9 percent of women). Also, among the slaveholders in each nativity category, southerners had the highest median number of slaves (5 for both men and women), while northerners came next (4 for both men and women), and foreign slaveholders had the least (2 for men, 3 1/2 for women).

The difference in slave use among these nativity groups would be significant even if it reflected simply a difference in levels of prosperity, with southerners wealthier than the other groups and thus better able to afford to buy or hire slaves. It would be even more striking, however, if southerners' greater slave use were a matter of preference, irrespective of their wealth. To determine if this was the case requires a comparison of foreigners, northerners, and southerners at the same levels of wealth. The 1860 census is better suited to this purpose because its schedule for free inhabitants included property values for both realty and personalty, while the 1850 census showed only real estate.

This "wealth-specific" analysis has been applied to census data gathered from Baton Rouge, Columbia, Montgomery, Natchez, and Savannah in 1860, embracing an aggregate of 739 white women, and 2,225 men thirty years and older with at least $1,000 total property (adding together the values of both realty and personalty). (12) Table 3 shows the percentage of slave users by nativity group among those 2,225 men, and divides them into three wealth categories: those who had between $1,000 and $4,999 ("moderately prosperous"), those with property valued between $5,000 and $19,999 (substantially prosperous"), and those whose wealth totaled $20,000 or more ("quite prosperous").

At all wealth levels, southerners had the largest percentage of slave users, northerners ranked second, and foreigners had the smallest percentage. The pattern was most pronounced among the moderately prosperous, where southerners had almost twice as large a percentage of slave use (50.6 percent) as northerners (28.9 percent), and had three times the percentage of foreigners (16.5 percent). Among the substantially prosperous slave use was greater among all three nativity categories, with the northern percentage (66.9 percent) running a closer second to southerners (75.9 percent) than among the moderately prosperous, and foreigners (52.6 percent) still well below northerners. At the quite prosperous level, differences among the three nativity categories narrowed considerably, with a range of just under 10 percentage points between southerners at the top (89.8 percent) and foreigners (80.2 percent) at the bottom. When all of the members of each nativity group are aggregated into a single wealth category of $1,0 00 or more property for each group, southerners had the greatest percentage of slave users (73.4 percent), northerners stood second (60.5 percent), and foreigners ranked last (40.7 percent).

All three of the largest specific foreign nationality groups--the British, the Irish, and the Germans--had fewer slaves than did northerners or southerners. As Table 4 indicates, the British had the largest percentage of slave users in the moderately and substantially prosperous categories, and led in the aggregated single wealth category of $1,000 or more property with 53.4 percent, compared with 39.3 percent of the Irish and 34.3 percent of the Germans. The fact that British immigrants had a higher level of slaveholding than other foreigners (though a bit lower than northerners and well below native southerners) suggests that they had less of a cultural divide to bridge in order to "Americanize" (or "southernize") than the Irish, Germans, or other foreign-born. Perhaps, too, a few British immigrants had been favorably disposed to the peculiar institution by the lawful persistence of slavery in the British West Indies as late as the 1830s.

The pattern for women was similar in some ways to that of men, though not exactly the same. Among the moderately prosperous, Table 5 shows that female southerners had a much larger percentage of slave users (52.1 percent) than either northerners (23.5 percent) or foreigners (29.4 percent). Foreigners remained well below southerners in the substantially prosperous category for women (54.3 percent compared with 70.5 percent), but northerners (with 72.4 percent) slightly surpassed southerners. At the upper end of the wealth scale, female foreigners had the largest percentage of slave users (80.0 percent) among the quite prosperous, southerners were second (73.0 percent), and northerners were last (60.0 percent). However, the somewhat eccentric pattern apparent among women may not be very meaningful because--unlike the men--there were so few nonsouthern propertied women. In the three specific property categories of moderately, substantially, and quite prosperous northern and foreign women, only the "cell" for for eign women of moderate prosperity had even as many as 40 women. In the cells for quite prosperous foreign and northern women, all five cities together had only 10 and 15 women, respectively, and for substantially prosperous foreigners and northerners just 35 and 29. In contrast, the smallest cell for the men had 126 individuals (the cell for quite prosperous foreigners). For the women, aggregating all who had $1,000 or more property yields a more reliable result, roughly paralleling that of the men: southern women had the largest percentage of slave users (63.0 percent), northerners had fewer (48.1 percent), and foreigners had the least (42.5 percent). Table 4 demonstrates that of the three largest foreign groups, the British had the highest level of slave use with 44.4 percent, followed by the Irish with 40.0 percent and the Germans with 33.3 percent--the same order as the men from these groups.

Thus, the percentages of slave use for both men and women showed that northerners and foreigners less often owned or hired slaves than southerners of comparable wealth. Focusing on the members of each nativity who were slaveholders shows an analogous pattern of differences among southerners, northerners, and foreigners in terms of how many slaves they held. This is illustrated by Table 6, which reports the median number of slaves held by each male nativity group at each level of wealth. Among the moderately prosperous male slaveholders the median number of slaves was the same (2) for all three groups, but southerners had a larger median number of slaves among the substantially prosperous (6 compared with 4 for both northerners and foreigners) and among the quite prosperous (13 for southerners) 7 for northerners) and 8 for foreigners). Taking all male slave users with $1,000 or more together, the median for southerners was 7, while northerners and foreigners both had medians of 4. Of the specific foreign natio nal groups, Table 7 indicates that the British had the highest median number of slaves with 5, the Irish were next with 4, and the Germans had just 3--the same order found among these groups in percentage of slave use.

Southerners had the largest median number of slaves among female slaveholders, too--see Table 8--with a median of 3 among the moderately prosperous (compared with 2 for both northerners and foreigners), a median of 7 for the substantially prosperous (against medians of 4 and 2 for northerners and foreigners, respectively), and a median of 15 among the quite prosperous (in contrast with 5 for both northerners and foreigners). In a comparison of all female slaveholders with $1,000 or more, southerners led with a median of 5, northerners stood second with 4, and foreigners ranked last with 3. As noted in Table 7, the women's medians for individual foreign national groups, though not very meaningful because of the tiny number of cases, were 4 1/2 for the Irish and 3 each for the British and Germans.

The evidence thus far suggests that not only were native southerners more likely to own or hire slaves than were northern and foreign whites who held equivalent wealth, but also that southern-born slaveholders were likely to make use of a greater number of slaves than comparably wealthy northerners and foreigners. This pattern prevailed even among the northerners and foreigners who were long-term residential persisters in the South. In Savannah, for example, although persisters had higher levels of slave use than more recent arrivals, it was nonetheless true that among both persisters and more recent arrivals, northerners had lower levels of slave use than native southerners, and foreigners' slave use was even less than that of northerners (see Table 9).

Southerners' greater attachment to slavery is also evident in their persistence in using slaves. A study of Savannah in 1850 and 1860 shows that among the city's male slaveholders of 1850 who still lived there ten years later, southerners were least likely to cease using slaves by 1860. Table 10 indicates that of the native southerners who held slaves in 1850 and who remained in the city in 1860, only 25.3 percent were not slaveholders in the latter year. However, for northerners that figure was 35.2 percent, and for foreigners it was 43.7 percent.

This pattern of actual slave use was not necessarily obvious to all native southerners at the time. For southerners who favored an open-armed welcome to foreigners and northerners, there was, however, apparent evidence around them to encourage confidence in migrants' support for slavery. (13) Very few foreigners and northerners were so bold or foolhardy as to proclaim publicly their opposition to, or even misgivings about, the peculiar institution. For optimistic native southerners, the silence of many outsiders might be construed as support for slavery (and for opportunistic southerners the votes, labor, or consumer market represented by the outsiders could easily outweigh considerations about securing slavery as an institution). (14)

Those native southerners who argued for welcoming and including foreigners and northerners could also cite evidence of explicit and enthusiastic support for slavery from some white migrants to the region, especially those who were quite prosperous. (15) The South's population of transplanted northerners, for example, certainly included supporters of slavery. When the abolitionist John S.C. Abbott toured the South in the late antebellum period, he encountered a northerner in New Orleans who assured Abbott that "I was always in favor of slavery when in the North, and I am still more so now that I have come South. The slaves are much better off than the laboring class at the North." Frederick A. P. Barnard, a native of Massachusetts who became Chancellor of the University of Mississippi in the 1850s, defended himself against rumors maligning his position on slavery by reminding the Board of Trustees that he was a slaveholder and asserting that he was "sound on the slavery question." The Board endorsed his prosla very credentials in a report to the legislature, noting that "since the bitter agitation of the slavery question at the North, his pen has been wielded with effect in support of the institutions of the South." Another migrant to Mississippi, John Quitman (who was born and reared in New York), observed within two years of taking up residence in Natchez that slaves were "a happy, careless, unreflecting, good-natured race, who, left to themselves, would degenerate into drones or brutes, but, subjected to a wholesome restraint and stimulus, become the best and most contented of laborers." He subsequently served as governor and U.S. Representative, and established himself as one of the South's most militant supporters of slavery and state's rights. (16)

Foreign-born migrants to the South also declared their support for the peculiar institution. When the Irish Repeal Association of Louisiana formed in New Orleans in 1842 (to advocate repeal of the 1801 Act of Union which had joined Ireland with Britain), the founders declared that "we are ... WARMLY ATTACHED TO SOUTHERN INSTITUTIONS"--a clear signal of their support for slavery. In 1857, John Mirchel, the Irish nationalist who resided successively in Knoxville, Washington, D.C., and Richmond, avowed that "1 consider slavery the best state of existence for the negro, and the best for his master." Mitchel asserted that the "South and the North are two nations, and cannot, as I believe, go on long together. Every year widens the breach, and reveals the incompatibility of the two sections. I prefer the South in every sense." Some German immigrants also signaled their loyalty to southern slavery. When the national Turnverein came out in favor of gradual emancipation in 1855, several southern chapters seceded from the national organization, including those in Augusta, Charleston, Houston, Mobile, and Savannah. The Savannah Turnverein protested the influence of "Northern Abolitionists" on the national convention, accused it of "gross ignorance of Southern life," and condemned its support of the emancipation proposal for being "in direct conflict with Southern rights." In Texas, the Frankfurt-born editor of the New Braunfelser Zeitung, Ferdinand J. Lindheimer, offered his assurance that "the majority of the Germans are not against the institution of slave labor and will support this institution in every political struggle." In Charleston, South Carolina, Franz Adolph Melchers, editor of the Deutsche Zeitung, proclaimed in 1854 that "we hold the institution of slavery as a necessity for the South, and the acts of the abolitionists uncalled for, illegal, and much more injurious to the Negroes than their submission under their masters." (17)

Yet some foreigners and northerners who lived in the South did seem less than wholeheartedly supportive of slavery, and at least a few were outright subversive--though evidence of such sentiments tended to be less public than that of their proslavery brethren. When the Saxon-born 48er Herrmann Schuricht settled in Virginia to become editor of the German-language edition of the Richmond Enquirer, he "stipulated, however, that he should not be obliged to write in favor of slavery." Another German immigrant evidently contributed to the success of Frederick Douglass's escape from slavery. Disguised as a free black sailor, Douglass was traveling north by train from Baltimore when he encountered a German blacksmith of his acquaintance. As Douglass later reported: "I really believe he knew me, but had no heart to betray me. At any rate, he saw me escaping and held his peace." (18)

Even before his flight from slavery, Douglass had encountered immigrants who seemed unsupportive of slavery. On the wharf in Baltimore he met two Irishmen who "expressed the deepest sympathy with me, and the most decided hatred of slavery. They went so far as to tell me that I ought to run away and go to the North: that I should find friends there, and that I should be as free as anybody." Although Douglass was too cautious to respond to their suggestion, he was "mainly inclined to the notion that these men were honest and meant me no ill." Douglass was not the only slave to find sympathy from some of the Irish. When Susie King Taylor was a child in slavery in Savannah, a "white playmate," Katie O'Connor, helped her achieve literacy. "One day she told me, if I would promise, not to tell her father, she would give me some lessons. On my promise not to do so, and getting her mother's consent, she gave me lessons about four months, every evening. At the end of this time she was put into the convent permanently, and I have never seen her since." Although Katie O'Connor's father might have been unsympathetic or unwilling to flout southern law and custom, some Irishmen had fewer reservations. When Frederick Law Olmsted visited New Orleans in the 1850s, he rode on an omnibus with a drunken Irishman who showed no reluctance to "loudly declare himself an abolitionist: a companion endeavored in vain to stop him, or make him recant, and finally declared he would not ride any further with him if he could not be more discreet." (19)

The drunken Irishman's companion had good reason to worry, since public avowal of abolitionist sentiment in the antebellum South could easily provoke both legal and extralegal reprisals. Mrs. Betty Beaumont, an Englishwoman living in the 1850s in Woodville, Mississippi, came to fear the arrival of letters from her unguardedly abolitionist father in England. "Knowing so well my father's views on slavery, and his fearlessness in expressing them, I shuddered to think what evil might follow the reading of his letters by any Southerner, as at that time there were very bitter feelings here against abolition, and both life and property were in danger where suspicion was incurred." She eventually wrote him a carefully phrased warning about his epistolary antislavery candor. Catherine Cooper Hopley, an Englishwoman living with a Virginia family whose daughter she tutored, described the delicate situation for English immigrants in the South when she visited Richmond with her host family: "This being my first visit to a Southern city, my curiosity and observation were of course drawn again to the negroes; and yet, owing to the sensitiveness the Virginians were then feeling on this point where foreigners were concerned, I abstained from asking any questions for fear of appearing too deeply interested in their condition. All English people were looked upon as 'abolitionists,' added to which the fact of my having so many relatives in the Northern States, drew upon me not a little suspicion, if not positive ill-will of some members of the family; and I found myself closely watched whenever I addressed a slave." Another Englishwoman, the traveler Barbara Leigh Smith Bodichon, reported that when she was visiting Louisiana'a Crescent City in the late 1850s "an English lady and gentleman had to leave New Orleans merely for talking abolition." In Mobile, two booksellers, William Strickland (an Englishman) and Edwin Upson (a native of Connecticut) were compelled to leave the city in 1856 for selling abolitionist materials--despite ha ving been slaveholders themselves. (20)

In Savannah the Massie School (the city's public elementary school) hired a northern teacher in 1857, a "Miss Mason," who soon outraged local sensibilities through "her fondness for the colored people of the South"--as one pupil described it--"and her activity in advocating the abolition cause was the subject of much talk." The furious school commissioners thereupon dismissed Miss Mason from her post for "uttering abolition sentiments openly." Even in the mountains of East Tennessee, where slaves and slaveholders were few, open criticism of slavery could antagonize supporters of the peculiar institution. Ezekiel Birdseye, a Connecticut native who was in business in East Tennessee for more than twenty years, discovered that his antipathy for slavery put him at odds with some of his neighbors. His correspondence with the abolitionist Gerrit Smith in the early 1840s led two local postmasters who recognized Smith's handwriting to threaten that they would withhold Birdseye's mail. Birdseye reported to Smith that " as my sentiments on the subject are no secret here," the editor of the Knoxville Post "has thought proper to thunder forth some anathemas for my special benefit." The following month he wrote to Smith that another Knoxville newspaper had contributed to the anti-Birdseye crusade: "Some one is attacking me in the Register at Knoxville.... They will venture no open attack on me but may try to employ some assassin." Birdseye was fortunate that his worst fears were not realized. (21)

Such hazards explain why the public utterances of foreigners and northerners in the South constitute an unreliable data base for evaluating the candid opinions of those groups. Certainly the proslavery comments of the elite members of those groups were important as expressions of their public relations effort at seeking toleration and acceptance. But for a more accurate and balanced estimate of the views of foreigners and northerners, another kind of evidence is needed. Precise and reliable measurement of public attitudes in mid-nineteenth century America is almost certainly an impossible goal for a historian to achieve. A series of statistically sophisticated candid opinion polls taken during the antebellum period and preserved intact would be the ideal source to discover how native southerners and migrants to the South truly regarded slavery, but alas--of course--such surveys were still generations away. However, it is possible to recapture the unguarded attitudes of some antebellum Americans from the diari es, letters, memoirs, and other literary expressions of mid-nineteenth-century opinion extant today. These sources constitute an imperfectly representative sample, since they are skewed toward the more literate, reflective, and prosperous people of the time, and they vary tremendously in scope and specificity, some offering decades-long highly detailed and deeply reflective introspection, others opening only a small aperture admitting a brief glimmer of dim light on the views of the author. Yet however imperfect, however crude, they afford the historian's best access to even a rough estimate of public opinion of the period. (22)

Reading such sources suggests a significant difference between native and transplanted southerners' attitudes toward slavery. Expressions of antislavery sentiment were considerably more frequent among migrants to the South. In a sample of texts written by 212 native southerners and 66 foreigners and northerners living in the South, only about 3 percent of native southerners made antislavery comments, while the comparable figure for migrants to the South was considerably higher at 23 percent. Antislavery sentiment would not necessarily have prevented someone from owning or hiring slaves, but would have made it less likely than if the individual had been completely acceptant of slavery. A critical attitude toward the institution also would probably have tended to moderate the behavior of those who became slave users despite their misgivings about slavery. Thus, the attitudinal differences between white natives and migrants probably had both quantitative and qualitative effects on their patterns of slave use.

Those migrants to the South who brought with them antislavery sentiments responded to life in a slave society in a variety of ways. Some remained unalterably opposed to slavery; some became slaveholders, but continued at least to have qualms about their involvement in slaveholding; and some became increasingly acceptant of slavery, even embracing the institution as a "positive good." One migrant to the South who became sufficiently acculturated to her adopted region to develop proslavery sentiments was Sarah Frances Hicks Williams. Born in New York in 1827, she married a North Carolina slaveowner and moved to the South in 1853. In an assessment of her husband-to-be, she reported to her parents in March 1853 that "there are but two things I know of to dislike in the man. One is his owning slaves. I cannot make it seem right, and yet, perhaps there may be my sphere of usefulness." By October 1854 she had concluded that "I should be very unwilling to sell our servants. I know that they are kindly cared for now, and they might easily fall into worse hands." In the same letter she commented: "How I wish the Abolitionists of the North could see these things as I see them. If they knew what they were about they would act differently." After John Brown's 1859 raid at Harper's Ferry, which she described as "the insane project in Virginia," she acidly noted that "you will readily see how very anxious (I speak ironically) the slaves are to be liberated, when the few that joined Brown & Co. were compelled, and one who would not was deliberately shot." (The "slave" she referred to as having been shot was actually Heyward Shephard, a free black man who worked at the Harper's Ferry station of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad. (23)

Another migrant from New York, Amelia Akehurst Lines, experienced a similar conversion to proslavery views. She moved to Georgia as a young adult in 1857, and in July of that year recorded in her diary that she had "witnessed cruelty for the first time at the south" when she saw a slave beaten "in the most cruel manner." In the same entry she described slavery as "a bitter curse! What a dark stain upon our country!" However, three years later she contended that "Negroes seem to be a necessary evil. If abolitionists knew them surely they would not wish to abolish slavery, & give them liberty to roam at large through the country." She became increasingly hostile toward blacks during the Civil War, noting at one point in 1862 that "I do despise the race," and once the war had ended--and slavery with it--she predicted that "a few years will prove to some at least that freedom is more of a curse than a blessing to the black race." (24)

Some northerners who moved to the South accommodated to white southern mores and joined the slaveholding class, yet still had some misgivings about their involvement with the institution. Dolly Lunt Burge, who was born in Maine in 1817 and moved to Georgia in 1838, eventually married a slaveholder, viewed blacks with condescension, and reached the conclusion that slaveholding did not violate scripture. Yet in 1864 she confided in her diary that "I have never felt Slavery was altogether right." A New Yorker, Sally Baxter, married into the immensely wealthy Wade Hampton family in South Carolina in 1855; her husband owned more than two hundred slaves. In a letter to her family in New York in December 1860, as South Carolina was preparing to secede, she disparaged the abolitionists of the North and complimented the South for its "firm--calm--manly & decided" tone, but the letter also revealed her reservations: "I am no Southerner heaven knows & at heart if not abolition at least anti-slavery." (25)

Even someone whose conscience never wavered in unrelenting condemnation of slavery might become a slaveowner. Emily Burke, a New Hampshire native who lived in Georgia in the 1840s, described such a case, a wealthy "gentleman from the North," a Mr. P., who lived in Augusta, Georgia. Mr. P. had "resolved he never would on any condition own property in human flesh," and hired a slave woman, Lucy, to cook for him. Lucy brought with her an infant daughter who, at age fifteen, was sold away by the owner. To restore the daughter to her mother, Mr. P. thereupon "made great efforts to repurchase her, contrary to his principles." Though initially frustrated by the new owner's reluctance to sell, Mr. P. ultimately succeeded, becoming a slaveowner as an act of humanity. (26)

Among the truly adamant opponents to slavery was the Norwegian immigrant Elise Tvede Waerenskjold, who settled in Texas in 1847. Writing shortly before the Civil War, she condemned slavery as an institution "founded on injustice" and "absolutely contrary to the law of God." In a realistic appraisal of life in the South she noted that "we immigrants, to be sure, can do nothing to abolish slavery; we are too few to accomplish anything for this cause and would merely bring on ourselves hatred and persecution, if we tried. All we can do is to keep ourselves free of the whole slavery system." Waerensjold's perspective closely resembled that of Caroline Seabury, a Massachusetts native who moved to Columbus, Mississippi in 1854, where she taught school at Columbus Female Institute along with her sister Martha. In her diary, Seabury repeatedly recorded her horror at "that ardent serpent slavery." Returning to Mississippi from a trip to New York in 1860 she wrote of "loving my friends here, loving the spot where my de ar Martha lies [her sister had died in Columbus in 1858], and all the sacred associations connected with it--Not that I love or believe in the institution of Slavery--with that I have nothing to do--for it I shall never be called to account." (27)

The experiences of Caroline Seabury, Elise Waerenskjold, "Mr. P," Sally Baxter Hampton, Dolly Lunt Burge, Sarah Hicks Williams, and Amelia Akehurst Lines demonstrate that migrants' views on slavery were far from uniform. Their examples suggest that differences in individual circumstances probably played an important role in shaping migrants' sentiments about slavery. Seabury and Waerenskjold, for example, had no marital ties to native southerners (Seabury was unmarried and Waerenskjold's husband was Norwegian), while Hampton, Burge, and Williams married slaveholding natives of the South. However, neither becoming a slaveholder nor marrying into a southern family was an indispensable prerequisite to molding migrants into proslavery converts. Amelia Lines became a supporter of slavery even though she was married to a native of Connecticut and she and her husband apparently never owned slaves. Migrants' responses to slavery depended also, in part, on the intensity of proslavery sympathies in the neighborhood and in the larger community. Yet, despite the variation in migrants' views and behavior toward the institution of slavery, when viewed as a group (or groups) of outsiders by native southerners (especially those who were oblivious or indifferent to individual differences), northerners and foreigners were, in point of fact, less supportive of slavery than were natives of the region.

Evidence of some native southerners' distrust of migrants to the South appears to have increased in the late antebellum period-especially the 1840s and 1850s, decades marked by not only increasing proslavery militancy but also huge increases in immigration. In the 1844 Louisiana state constitutional convention John C. Beatty, a delegate from Lafourche Parish, observed that "a great portion of the menial labor performed in the country by slaves was performed in the city by white persons; the largest proportion of these white persons were not citizens of the United States." He warned that "taking into consideration the fact that the slave population of New Orleans is fast diminishing, it is not beyond the range of possibility that New Orleans may in a few years, without detriment to her own interest, propose and carry the abolition of slavery." (28)

Similar complaints surfaced in Kentucky's 1849 constitutional convention. Garrett Davis of Bourbon County asserted that the state's emancipation party was composed mostly of outsiders: "Probably three fourths were born in other lands, in the free states of the Union, or of Europe." Davis pointed out that "foreign immigrants particularly crowd the cities," and noted that "all the foreigners whose opinions on this subject I have learned, are equally hostile to slavery and its continuance." Squire Turner of Madison County claimed that "the dregs of the emigrant population will be found in the cities," and that such people "are generally hostile to the institution of slavery." (29)

Several delegates to the Maryland constitutional convention of 1850 also voiced their fear that outsiders would subvert slavery. J. W. Crisfield of Somerset County charged that "in the city of Baltimore there is a large infusion of northern and anti-slavery sentiment." Kent County's Joseph T. Mitchell averred that Baltimore "was partly composed of a parcel of men who had come from the North in order to make their fortunes, and who had no interest in the domestic concerns of the State. Their's was a mixed population, many foreigners. The time would come, in less than ten years, when the city of Baltimore would suppose it to be in its interest to abolish slavery in the state of Maryland." (30)

Proslavery southerners saw danger throughout the urban South. (31) One such supporter of slavery, South Carolina businessman Henry W. Conner, warned John C. Calhoun in 1849 of the unreliability of all the South's urban population, citing the specific examples of New Orleans, Mobile, Savannah, and Augusta, and attributing the problem to the "infusion of Northerners and Foreigners amongst them." In the early 1850s, another southern critic of the urban population's loyalties complained that in Savannah "the Yankees exert themselves to the utmost to carry elections their way." In 1853, the Southern Quarterly Review enumerated a short list of explanations for the "singular apathy of the South, in its political defence," including the "influence and vote of the foreign and Yankee population among us," and the following year offered the dire prediction that "every city is destined to be the seat of free-soilism. It is unconsciously making its appearance in Charleston, and it is destined to increase with every fresh arrival of European emigrants. Whites are driving our slaves from their old employments." Early in 1861 Leonidas W. Spratt, a South Carolinian who stood in the vanguard of the movement to resume the African slave trade, published an open letter in the Charleston Mercury sounding the alarm that the South was "in danger of being overrun and abolitionized" by "a vast supply of pauper labor from the North and Europe." He warned that "even here the process of disintegration has commenced." (32)

The formation of the Confederacy and the onset of the Civil War intensified the fear and anger of those southerners who distrusted the nonnative population of the South. Private citizens, journalists, and politicians all gave vent to such sentiments. At the highest political level, members of the Confederate Congress proclaimed their doubts about any but birthright southerners. In April 1863, Texas Senator William S. Oldham charged that "many foreigners ... had been false to us through their animosity to negro slavery." His colleague, Clement Clay of Alabama, held that "foreigners were hostile to our peculiar institution--slavery," and complained that "in many of the Southern towns the foreigners had monopolized the entire trade. Many of these men had taken the initiatory steps to become citizens. Some of them had voted. Now they were reaping all the profits of this war. If they were not willing to perform the duties [of military service] whilst enjoying all the privileges of citizens, they should be forced t o leave the country." Missouri Senator John Clark saved his harshest condemnation for the uniquely "mean and vile" northerners, saying that he "hoped our laws would go even further than to exclude them from citizenship. He would pass laws to prevent our people from marrying one of them. He would say to a man who would marry a Yankee woman: 'Go out of the country--we want none of your breed. We will have a pure blooded nation.'" (33)

Such xenophobic rhetoric certainly seemed excessive to some southerners at the time (and seems even more so to modern historians who so often celebrate the multicultural character of American society), yet the fears of proslavery nativists were not groundless, even if they were exaggerated. Foreigners and northerners as groups were less prosperous than native southerners and thus less able to buy or hire slaves. Working-class urban whites--disproportionately migrants from outside the region--sometimes had to compete for jobs against slave labor, and consequently had a vested interest in shrinking the urban presence of slavery. Even those foreigners and northerners who had at least modest wealth invested less in slaves than did southerners of comparable prosperity, and were likelier than southerners to give up slaveholding. Literate transplants to southern society were evidently somewhat likelier than literate native southerners to view slavery as an undesirable--even immoral--institution undeserving of their support. Foreigners and northerners had concentrated heavily in the South's urban places and it was obvious to contemporary observers of politics that the urban vote often differed significantly in preference from the rural vote. It was easy for the distrustful to assume--however simplistically--that foreign and northern hostility to slavery explained that urban-rural electoral differential. (34)

Fears of northerners and foreigners--and working-class native white southerners-had an impact on certain public policy debates in the Old South. Protecting slavery from such domestic opposition clearly motivated some of the proslavery militants who sought to reopen the African slave trade. Anxiety about outsiders in southern politics encouraged some proslavery reactionaries to advocate antidemocratic political reforms, such as restoring property requirements for suffrage and adopting longer (even lifetime) terms for some elective officials. (35) Urban politics seemed to some southerners especially vulnerable to the toxins of alien values and consequently needed special protection against corruption, such as a system of voter registration. (36) Apprehensions about the ethnocultural diversity of the cities were also intertwined among the multifarious influences on debates regarding recurring issues such as legislative apportionment and public works' appropriations. (37)

Slavery's persistence in the South into the mid-1800s gave the region a profoundly distinctive culture and history. An important part of that distinction proved to be a peculiarly southern version of the national debate about America as "a nation of nations" or "a nation of immigrants," for the Old South was, after all, a complex and diverse society.

Dennis C. Rousey, "Friends and Foes of Slavery: Foreigners and Northerners in the Old South"

Many foreigners and northerners made their homes in the antebellum South, especially in cities and towns where they constituted a majority of white adult males. Some of their nativeborn neighbors had good reason to doubt the loyalty of nonnatives to the South's peculiar institution of slavery. Foreigners and northerners were less inclined to enforce the system of slavery, more willing to flout the law, more likely to view slaves as unwelcome competitors for jobs, and less able financially to hire or purchase slaves. Census data for five Deep South towns in 1860 show that white northerners and foreigners invested less in slavery than native-born southerners did--even after wealth differences among the groups are factored out. Migrants to the South who used slaves were less likely than native southerners to persist in doing so. The diaries, letters, and memoirs of native and adoptive southerners indicate that those born and reared outside the South were more likely to harbor antislavery feelings. Thus, the larg e "outsider" presence in the Old South made southerners highly conflicted about the ethnocultural diversity of the region and especially suspicious of its urban places.


(1.) The author's working hypothesis at the outset of this research project anticipated that northerners and foreigners would have lower levels of slave use than native southerners. A cautiously conservative strategy to disfavor the working hypothesis suggested it would be best to avoid those parts of the South where migrants might have felt the least pressure to conform to proslavery attitudes and behavior. This meant not drawing data from the Border South and from the South's largest cities, because close proximity to the North and large absolute numbers of northerners and foreigners clustered together in big cities might have made it relatively easy to develop a way of life mostly independent of the values of native southerners. Thus, the Deep South's middle-sized towns seemed a good choice. The 1860 population sizes for these towns were: Savannah 22,292; Montgomery 8,843; Natchez 6,612; Baton Rouge 5,428; Columbia, circa 8,000. U. S. Census Office, Population of the United States in 1860 (Washington, D. C ., 1864), 9, 74, 195, 271. The slave schedule for Richland District, South Carolina, did not distinguish Columbia from the surrounding rural area, while the free schedule did distinguish town from country, so the total population figure is an estimate.

(2.) As an example of wealth differences among nativity groups, in 1860 Savannah the median age-standardized property values for white males 20 years and older were $1,954 for southerners, $685 for northerners, and $171 for foreigners. For specific foreign-born groups, the values were $564 for the British, $268 for the Germans, and $45 for the Irish. Calculations by author from Manuscript Census Returns, Eighth Census of the United States, 1860, Schedule 1, Free Inhabitants, Chatham County, Georgia, National Archives Microfilm Series M653, roll 33.

(3.) Probably some of the difference in the level of slaveholding between native southerners and nonnatives derived from a greater likelihood that natives might receive slaves as bequests or gifts from family. However, since even the short-term hiring of a single slave qualifies as slaveholding in this analysis, foreigners and northerners--including those of quite modest means--could easily cross the threshold from nonslaveholder to slaveholder.

(4.) In 1860, 95 percent of black Americans lived in the slaveholding region. U. S. Census Office, Population of the United States in 1860 (Washington, D.C., 1864), 598-99.

(5.) Another highly suspect group, free blacks, also had a disproportionately urban presence. Their concentration in towns of 2,500 to 19,999 population was three times higher than in rural areas, and in cities of 20,000 or more population, four times higher than in the rural South. Population of the United States in 1860, 9, 19, 46, 54, 74, 182-83, 195, 214, 271, 288-98, 359, 452, 467, 486-87, 518-20, 598. For examples of southern politicians' comments on the urban menace of free people of color, see Proceedings and Debates of the Convention of Louisiana Which Assembled at the City of New Orleans January 14, 1844 (2 vols.; New Orleans, 1845), 2:312; Proceedings of the Maryland State Convention, to Frame a New Constitution Commenced at Annapolis, November 4,1850 (2 vols.; Annapolis, 1850), 2: 220-21; "Proceedings of the First Confederate Congress," Southern Historical Society Papers, New Series 12 (Richmond, 1953): 357.

(6.) In cities of 20,000 or more population in 1860, the mean foreign-born share of white population was virtually the same in North and South, but the rural North had a considerably higher concentration than the rural South. The result was that in the North, the concentration of foreigners in the cities was about 2 1/2 times greater than in rural areas; in the South, the urban concentration of foreign-born was about 10 times the rural concentration. "Interregional migrants" (native southerners living in the North, and native northerners living in the South) also had a big urban-rural differential in the South, where their share of white population in cities of 20,000+ was about 3 1/2 times greater than in rural areas in 1850; in the North, interregional migrants had only a minuscule presence in cities (indeed, they actually had a higher concentration in rural areas than cities). Dennis C. Rousey, "Aliens in the WASP Nest," Journal of American History 79 (June 1992): 156.

(7.) The history of the Old South's white ethnic minorities and their relationship to slavery is certainly no longer terra incognita. A number of historians have explored this terrain, identifying important landmarks and sketching in parts of an interpretive map. Virtually all students of the subject seem to agree that neither northerners nor any of the foreign-born national groups ever presented themselves in any large numbers as publicly-avowed abolitionists. Interpretive differences do prevail, however, about the extent and significance of white minorities' privately-held antislavery sentiment, personal relationships with black southerners, and illicit business transactions with slaves and free blacks.

Perhaps the least effectively developed analytical perspective in this field of study has been the comparative one. What is needed is more direct and rigorous comparison of slaveholding patterns among the various white minorities with those of the southern white majority. Controls for wealth differences among the several groups would further enhance the value of such study. There is also a need for more systematic comparison of attitudes toward slavery--derived from literary sources--among these groups.

For works which illuminate the relationship between northerners and slavery in the Old South, see Clement Eaton, The Freedom-of-Thought Struggle in the Old South (New York, 1964), 130, 180-81, 191, 233, 258-66, 381-82, 390; William W. Chenault and Robert C. Reinders, "The Northern-born Community of New Orleans in the 1850s," Journal of American History 51 (September 1964): 245; Fletcher M. Green, The Role of the Yankee in the Old South (Athens, 1972), 111-12, 131-32; Harriet E. Amos, Cotton City: Urban Development in Antebellum Mobile (Tuscaloosa, 1985), 61-62; Lynn Willoughby, Fair to Middlin': The Antebellum Cotton Trade of the Apalachicola/Chattahooche River Valley (Tuscaloosa and London, 1993), 114.

On immigrants and slavery, see Ronald Takaki, A Pro-Slavery Crusade: The Agitation to Reopen the African Slave Trade (New York, 1971), 48-54, 113, 183, 240-41; Randall M. Miller, "Immigrants in the Old South," Immigration History Newsletter 10 (November 1978): 8-9,11; Fred Siegel, "Artisans and Immigrants in the Politics of Late Antebellum Georgia," Civil War History 27(1981): 221-30; Ira Berlin and Herbert G. Gutman, "Natives and Immigrations, Free Men and Slaves: Urban Workingmen in the Antebellum American South," American Historical Review 88 (December 1983): 1195-1200; Randall M. Miller, "The Enemy Within: Some Effects of Foreign Immigrants on Antebellum Southern Cities," Southern Studies 24 (Spring 1985): 34-40, 46-51; Amos, Cotton City, 61-62.

For a specific focus on the Irish and slavery, see Eaton, Freedom-of-Thought Struggle, 248--49; Earl F Niehaus, The Irish in New Orleans, 1800-1860 (Baton Rouge, 1965), 47-48, 54-55, 81, 159, 177 n. 44; Christopher Silver, "A New Look at Old South Urbanization: The Irish Worker in Charleston, South Carolina, 1840-1860," in Samuel M. Hines and George W. Hopkins, eds., South Atlantic Urban Studies (Columbia, 1979), 3:147,156--58; Dennis Clark, "The South's Irish Catholics: A Case of Cultural Confinement," in Randall M. Miller and Jon L: Wakelyn, eds., Catholics in the Old South: Essays on Church and Culture (Macon, GA, 1983), 199-200 n. 8, 201, 208; Arthur S. Meyers, "'Come! Let Us Fly to Freedom's Sky': The Response of Irish Immigrants in the South to Slavery During the Late Antebellum Period," Journal of Southwest Georgia History 7 (1989): 20-39; Edward M. Shoemaker, "Strangers and Citizens: The Irish Immigrant Community of Savannah, 1837-1861" (Ph.D. diss., Emory University, 1990), 184-88, 210-11,216-17, 253 , 278-86, 296-97, 381-82; Norman C. McLeod, Jr., "Free Labor in a Slave Society: Richmond, Virginia, 1820-1860" (Ph.D. diss., Howard University, 1991), 207, 211-12, 218-19; David Thomas Gleeson, "The Irish in the South, 1815-1877" (Ph.D. diss., Mississippi State University, 1997), 68-70, 92-93, 229-67, 366, 369-70; Steven Elliott Tripp, Yankee Town, Southern City: Race and Class Relations in Civil War Lynchburg (New York and London, 1997), 66-67.

Works which shed light on the Germans and slavery include John F. Nau, The German People of New Orleans, 1850-1900 (Leiden, Netherlands, 1958), 24,26-27,32-36; Eaton, Freedom-of-Thought Struggle, 239-42, 245-48,390; Terry G. Jordan, German Seed in Texas Soil: Immigrant Farmers in Nineteenth-Century Texas (Austin, 1966), 106-12,180-82; Klaus Wust, The Virginia Germans (Charlottesville, 1969), 121-28, 219; Takaki, Pro-Slavery Crusade, 183; Michael Everette Bell," 'Hurrah fur dies susse, dies sonnige Leben': The Anomaly of Charleston, South Carolina's Antebellum German-America" (Ph.D. diss., University of South Carolina, 1996), 87, 154, 162, 175, 193-94, 218-21, 236-43, 261, 264, 268.

Two religious minorities, Catholics and Jews, received such large infusions of immigrants in the antebellum period that they can be usefully considered as part of a study of the foreign-born. Among the valuable studies of Catholics and slavery are Madeleine Hooke Rice, American Catholic Opinion in the Slavery Controversy (New York, 1944), 85, 109, 113, 151, 153-54, 161; James J. Pillar, The Catholic Church in Mississippi, 1837-65 (New Orleans, 1964), 170-77; Miller and Wakelyn, eds., Catholics in the Old South, particularly Randall M. Miller, "A Church in Cultural Captivity: Some Speculations on Catholic Identity in the Old South," 8,13-16, Richard R. Duncan, "Catholics and the Church in the Antebellum Upper South," 87-90, R. Emmett Curran, "'Splendid Property': Jesuit Slaveholding in Maryland, 1805-1838," 133,137-40,144,146, Randall M. Miller, "The Failed Mission: The Catholic Church and Black Catholics in the Old South," 157-59, and Jon L. Wakelyn, "Catholic Elites in the Slaveholding South," 216-17, 236-38 .

For analyses of Jews and slavery, see Bertram Wallace Korn, "Jews and Negro Slavery in the Old South, 1789-1865," 89-134, in Leonard Dinnerstein and Mary Dale Palsson, Jews in the South (Baton Rouge, 1973); Steven Hertzberg, Strangers Within the Gate City: The Jews of Atlanta, 1845-1915 (Philadelphia, 1978), 22; Myron Berman, Richmond's Jewry, 1769-1976: Shabbat in Shockoe (Charlottesville, 1979), 162-63; James William Hagy, This Happy Land: The Jews of Colonial and Antebellum Charleston (Tuscaloosa and London, 1993), 90-104; Mark I. Greenberg, "Creating Ethnic, Class, and Southern Identity in Nineteenth-Century America: The Jews of Savannah, Georgia, 1830-1880" (Ph.D. diss., University of Florida, 1997), 7 n. 12, 137, 145-46, 147-49, 221, 258-62, 271.

Several historians have made fragmentary comparative measurements of slaveholding among the South's white minorities. Harriet Amos has reported the average number of slaves held in 1860 by northerners, foreigners, and native southerners among an elite of 256 urban leaders in Mobile (southerners had the highest average). Lynn Willoughby has noted the median number of slaves in 1850 for the northerners and southerners who were cotton factors (an occupational group of 38 men) in Apalachicola, Florida, observing a higher median for northerners. For Jewish southerners, Bertram Wallace Korn compared the percentage of slaveholders among 129 southern Jews whose wills were in the American Jewish Archives to the percentage of white slaveholding families in the entire South in the 1860 census, finding the percentages to have been roughly equal. In a study of Charleston's Jews, James William Hagy compared the percentage of slaveholding Jews with the slaveholding percentage of all white households in the city in 1830, and found the two percentages to have been about the same. Similar results have emerged from Mark Greenberg's analysis of the Savannah Jewish community, where he discovered that in 1860 the percentage of Jewish adults who held slaves was close to the slaveholding percentage of all adult whites in the county. Ira Berlin and Herbert Gutman briefly noted that "proportionately, immigrant workers owned or employed fewer slaves than did native-born workers," but did not report their data on this issue and did not pursue this aspect of their analysis any further. Berlin and Gutman, "Natives and Immigrants, Free Men and Slaves," 1195.

(8.) Historians have vigorously debated the reasons for the declining proportion of slaves in most southern cities (and declining absolute numbers in some) during the late antebellum period, but irrespective of the explanation for this demographic change, it is clear that slavery in the urban context was weaker--or looser--than in the countryside. Foreigners and northerners tended to be less inclined to enforce the system of slavery, more willing to flout the law, more likely to view slaves as unwelcome competition for jobs, and less able financially to hire or purchase slaves--all, in differing ways, erosive effects on the peculiar institution. See Richard Wade, Slavery in the Cities: The South, 1820-1860 (New York, 1964); Claudia Dale Goldin, Urban Slavery in the American South, 1820-1860: A Quantitative History (Chicago, 1976); Berlin and Gutman, "Natives and Immigrants, Free Men and Slaves," 1175-2000.

(9.) The political significance of foreigners and northerners would have seemed nil if these groups had been perceived as mostly nonvoters, but clearly some native southerners thought they were active electoral participants. Voter turnout and party affiliations for foreigners and northerners will undoubtedly be difficult to establish, but voter registration data for Savannah in 1860 show that they were only slightly less likely than native southerners to register to vote. In that year northerners accounted for 15.2 percent of Savannah's white males 21 years and older; the northern share of registered voters was just a bit less, 12.9 percent. Similarly, the foreign-born contingent constituted 53.6 percent of white adult males and 47.4 percent of registered voters. Manuscript Census Returns, Chatham County, Georgia, as cited in note 2; Savannah Voter Register, 1860, microfilm, Georgia Department of Archives and History.

(10.) The slave schedules of the federal census did not consistently distinguish between owners and employers of slaves. Claudia Dale Goldin has suggested that "census marshals made an obvious attempt in 1860 to list slaves in their place of hire." This does indeed seem likely. The 1860 enumerator for Savannah clearly showed at least seven percent of the slaveholders as someone other than an owner, principally agents, trustees, and executors. The remaining 93 percent of the 1860 Savannah slaveholders appeared on the schedule by name alone, without any indication of their exact relationship to the slaves they held, and it is certainly possible that many were actually employers not explicitly designated as such by the marshal. Goldin, Urban Slavery in the American South, 1820-1860, 19.

(11.) Adults younger than 30 had a much lower level of slave use than those 30 years and older, but with the same pattern of greatest use by southerners, least use by foreigners, and use by northerners in between. The following table shows the results for men 18 to 29 years old in the 1850 Savannah census.
Table N1

Slave Use by White Men 18-29 Years Old in 1850

Nativity Number of Men Number of Slave Users

Southerners 694 52
Northerners 123 7
Foreigners 512 19

Total 1,329 78

Nativity Percentage of Slave Users

Southerners 7.5%
Northerners 5.7%
Foreigners 3.7%

Total 5.9%

Source: Same as Table 2.

(12.) Slave use by people with less than $1,000 property was very limited, and what little such use there was reflected the same pattern of use by the three nativity groups as prevailed among more prosperous adults.
Table N2

Slave Use by White Men 30 Years and Older with Less Than $1,000 Property

Nativity Number of Men Number of Slave Users

Southerners 371 16
Northerners 235 4
Foreigners 1,127 4
Total 1,733 24

Nativity Percentage of Slave Users

Southerners 4.3%
Northerners 1.7%
Foreigners .4%
Total 1.4%

Source: Manuscript Census Returns, Eighth Census of the United States,
1860, Schedule 1, Free Inhabitants, and Schedule 2, Slave Inhabitants,
Chatham County, Georgia, National Archives Microfilm M653, roll 33.

(13.) For examples of southerners' approval of migrants to the South, see Savannah Daily Morning News, March 16, 1855; Southern Quarterly Review, New Series 12 (October 1855): 284; DeBow's Review, New Series 1 (January 1855): 704, 5 (January 1861): 73; Proceedings and Debates of the Convention of Louisiana Which Assembled at the City of New Orleans January 14, 1844, 2: 23; James P. Hambleton, A Biographical Sketch of Henry A. Wise, with a History of the Political Campaign in Virginia in 1855 (Richmond, 1856), 306; Report of the Debates and Proceedings of the Convention for the Revision of the Constitution of the State of Kentucky. 1849 (Frankfort, 1849), 489; W. L. Barre, ed., Speeches and Writings of Thomas F. Marshall (Cincinnati, 1858), 456, 459, 568; Richard D. Arnold to George E. James, May 4, 1861, in Richard H. Shryock, ed., Letters of Richard D. Arnold, M.D. 1808-1876: Mayor of Savannah, Georgia, First Secretary of the American Medical Association (Durham, 1929; rpt. 1970), 102; Albert D. Richardson, The Secret Service, The Field, The Dungeon, and the Escape (Hartford, 1865), 9.

(14.) By the late antebellum period, the northerners and foreigners living in the South's urban communities included a core of long-term residential persisters who tended to be more prosperous and likelier to hold slaves than more recent arrivals. Their willingness to support slavery and their local business and personal relationships helped win acceptance from some native southerners nor only for themselves, but also for at least some of the more recently arrived migrants. In Savannah, for example, such persisters included Connecticut-born Noah Knapp, who held 4 slaves in 1840,5 in 1845, 20 in 1850, and 21 in 1860; Pennsylvania native Thomas M. Turner, with 10 slaves in 1840, 5 in 1845, and 15 in 1860; Irishman David Bell, who had 7 slaves in 1840, 15 in 1850, and 14 in 1860; and German-born Henry Willinks, with 15 slaves in 1840, 12 in 1845,19 in 1850, and 23 in 1860. Manuscript Census Returns, Sixth Census of the United States, 1840, Schedule of Free and Slave Inhabitants, Chatham County, Georgia, National Archives Microfilm Series M704, roll 38; Seventh Census, 1850, Schedule 1, Free Inhabitants, and Schedule 2, Slave Inhabitants, Chatham County, Georgia, National Archives Microfilm Series M432, rolls 64, 89; Eighth Census, 1860, Schedule 1, Free Inhabitants, and Schedule 2, Slave Inhabitants, Chatham County Georgia, National Archives Microfilm Series M653, rolls 115, 143; Censuses for Georgia Counties: Taliaferro 1827, Lumpkin 1838, Chatham 1845 (Atlanta, 1979).

(15.) However, only small proportions of the northern and foreign populations of the South became quite prosperous. Among white men 30 years and older in Savannah in 1860, for example, only 14 percent of northerners and a mere 4 percent of foreigners had $20,000 or more of property. Manuscript Census Returns, Chatham County, Georgia, as cited in note 2.

(16.) John S. C. Abbott, South and North; or, Impressions Received During a Trip to Cuba and the South (New York, 1860), 78; John Fulton, Memoirs of Frederick A. P. Barnard, D.D., LL.D., L.H.D., D.C.L., Tenth President of Columbia College in the City of New York (New York and London, 1896), 253, 258; John A. Quitman to Colonel Brush, August 23, 1823, in J. F. H. Claiborne, Life and Correspondence of John A. Quitman, Major-General, U.S.A., and Governor of the State of Mississippi (2 vols.; New York, 1860), 84-85.

(17.) New Orleans Jeffersonian, reprinted in The Liberator, April 1, 1842; William Dillon, Life of John Mitchel (2 vols.; London, 1888), 2: 107; Savannah Daily Morning News, November 10, 1855; Augustus J. Prahl, "The Turner," 101, in A.E. Zucker, ed., The Forty-Eighters: Political Refugees of the German Revolution of 1848 (New York, 1950); Walter L. Buenger, "Secession and the Texas German Community: Editor Lindheimer vs. Editor Flake," Southwestern Historical Quarterly 82 (April 1979): 384; Michael Everette Bell, "Regional Identity in the Antebellum South: How German Immigrants Became 'Good' Charlestonians," South Carolina Historical Magazine 100 (January 1999): 23-24.

(18.) Herrmann Schuricht, History of the German Element in Virginia (2 vols.; Baltimore, 1898), 1: 41; Frederick Douglass, Life and Times of Frederick Douglass: His Early Life As a Slave, His Escape from Bondage, and His Complete History: An Autobiography (New York and Avenel, New Jersey, 1993), 183.

(19.) Douglass, Life and Times of Frederick Douglass, 71-72; Susie King Taylor, Reminiscences of My Life in Camp (Boston, 1902; rpt. 1968), 6; Frederick Law Olmsted, The Cotton Kingdom: A Traveller's Observations on Cotton and Slavery in the American Slave States, edited with an introduction by Arthur M. Schlesinger (New York, 1953), 232.

(20.) Betty Beaumont, Twelve Years of My Life. An Autobiography (Philadelphia, 1887), 90-91; Catherine Cooper Hopley, Life in the South; from the Commencement of the War (2 vols.; London, 1863), 1: 144; Barbara Leigh Smith Bodichon, An American Diary, 1857-8, edited by Joseph W. Reed, Jr. (London, 1972), 130; Amos, Cotton City, 62.

(21.) Richard D. Arnold to John Stoddard, July [?] 1858, William Harden to Richard Shryock, March 18, 1929, in Richard H. Shryock, ed., Letters of Richard D. Arnold, M.D. 1808-1876 91-92; Ezekiel Birdseye to Gerrit Smith, March 14, April 16, 1842, in Durwood Dunn, An Abolitionist in the Appalachian South: Ezekiel Birdseye on Slavery, Capitalism, and Separate Statehood in East Tennessee, 1841-1 846 (Knoxville, 1997), 212- 13, 221.

(22.) A truly random sample of antebellum white southern residents would be impossible to obtain, since the population of texts is inherently biased, especially in its exclusion of the illiterate (and correlatively the poor). The more limited purpose of this sample is to compare literate native southerners with literate transplanted southerners. The published diaries, letters, and memoirs were selected in almost all cases without my prior knowledge of the author's views on slavery; very few of the authors were public activists on issues related to slavery. To qualify as "antislavery," an author had to assert at least once that slavery was inimical to southern society or morally flawed, but did not have to advocate any plan of emancipation and did not have to endorse the principle of racial equality.

Since the analysis of other evidence elsewhere in this study emphasizes the Deep South in the period from 1840 through the Civil War years, it seemed appropriate to seek similar thematic and temporal emphases in the textual sample. Of the southern residential experience in the sample of texts, about 64 percent of natives' residences were in the Deep South (Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, Texas), 31 percent in the Middle South (Arkansas, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia),and 5 percent in the Border South (Delaware, the District of Columbia, Kentucky, Maryland, Missouri); of nonnatives' southern residences, 60 percent were Deep South, 36 percent Middle South, and 4 percent Border South. With respect to chronology about 88 percent of the natives' textual material dealt with the period 1840-65, and the other 12 percent with the period before 1840. For nonnatives, approximately 86 percent of the material fell in the 1840-65 years, and 14 percent in the pre-1840 era. (Post- 1865 material was excluded from the analysis.)

The native southern portion of the sample consisted of 104 men (2 antislavery) and 108 women (4 antislavery). The foreign-born contingent included 11 men (3 antislavery) and 7 women (3 antislavery), and among the northerners were 23 men (6 antislavery) and 25 women (7 antislavery). However, two of the northern women who expressed antislavery sentiment later became proslavery, and one of the foreign women and one of the northern men lived in the South less than six months (about four months each). If the last two individuals are excluded from the sample and the two converts to proslavery are subtracted from the antislavery camp, then the antislavery proportion of nonnatives was 23 percent; without these exclusions and subtractions, it was 28 percent. Unfortunately, the available texts of foreigners and northerners are considerably less numerous than those of native southerners, and consequently it is difficult to develop large enough samples of more specific nativities--Irish, Germans, New Englanders, Midweste rners--to draw attitudinal distinctions among those specific nativities. For a thoughtful discussion of the problems historians face in assessing Irish southerners' views on slavery, see Meyers, "'Come! Let Us Fly to Freedom's Sky,'" 21 n. 1.

(23.) James C. Bonner, ed., "Plantation Experiences of a New York Woman," North Carolina Historical Review 33 (1956): 387, 402,535-36.

(24.) Thomas Dyer, ed., To Raise Myself a Little: The Diaries and Letters of .Jennie, a Georgia Teacher, 1851-1886 (Athens, 1982), 57, 170, 192-93, 219-20. When migrants to the South changed their views about slavery after living in the region, the course of such transformations was not always one of simple linearity. Timothy Reilly has observed that Massachusetts minister Theodore Clapp came to the South in young adulthood as an abolitionist, thereafter supporting the colonization movement for a while, then shifting for many years to a proslavery stance, and eventually favoring gradual emancipation with colonization of the freedmen. Timothy F. Reilly, "The Conscience of a Colonizationist: Parson Clapp and the Slavery Dilemma," Louisiana History 39 (Fall 1998): 411-41.

(25.) James I. Robertson, ed.., The Diary of Dolly Lunt Burge (Athens, 1962), 98; Ann Fripp Hampton, ed., A Divided Heart: Letters of Sally Baxter Hampton, 1853-1862 (Spartanburg, 1980), 76.

(26.) Emily Burke, Pleasure and Pain: Reminiscences of Georgia in the 1840's, edited by Felicity Calhoun (Savannah, 1991), 54-55.

(27.) C. A. Clausen, ed., The Lady with the Pen: Elise Waerenskjold in Texas (Northfield, Minnesota, 1961; rpt. 1979), 19-21; Suzanne L. Bunkers, ed., The Diary of Caroline Seabury, 1854-1863 (Madison, 1991), 39, 59.

(28.) Proceedings and Debates of the Convention of Louisiana Which Assembled at the City of New Orleans January 14, 1844, 308, 148.

(29.) Report of the Debates and Proceedings of the Convention for the Revision of the Constitution of the State of Kentucky, 493-94, 73, 448.

(30.) Proceedings of the Maryland Stare Convention, to Frame a New Constitution Commenced at Annapolis, November 4, 1850, 2: 116, 212.

(31.) The threat posed by the foreign-born seemed real and imminent enough to give the American Party a chance for widespread success in the South in the mid-1850s. As the principal loci of the immigrant menace, southern cities became political battlefields, with riotous violence marring elections throughout the urban South. However, the southern Know Nothings failed to sustain the conjunction of proslavery and nativist ideologies; southern Democrats damaged them badly by warning southern voters of the antislavery sentiments of Know Nothings in the North (especially Massachusetts). From 1856 onward, the American Party in the South emphasized preservation of the Union above all other issues, and southern Democrats emerged as the militant defenders of slavery. John David Bladek, "America for Americans: The Southern Know Nothing Party and the Politics of Nativism, 1854-1856" (Ph.D. dissertation, University of Washington, 1998).

(32.) Henry W. Conner to John C. Calhoun, January 12, 1849, in Annual Report of the American Historical Association for the Year 1899 (2 vols.; Washington, D.C., 1900), 2: 1189; Incidents of a journey from Abbeville, South Carolina, to Ocala, Florida, by an Observer of Small Things (Edgefield, SC, 1852), 11; Southern Quarterly Review, New Series 7 (January 1853): 204-205, 10 (October 1854): 453-54; Charleston Mercury, February 13, 1861.

(33.) "Proceedings of the First Confederate Congress," Southern Historical Society Papers, New Series 11 (Richmond, 1943): 133, 230-33.

(34.) The 1860 presidential election furnishes a useful example of urban-rural voting differences. Democratic candidate John C. Breckenridge of Kentucky clearly attracted less support in urban areas than rural ones. An analysis of election returns from 54 southern cities and towns shows that in urban places Breckenridge ran about 12 percent behind his performance in the rural portions of the South, and that differential was somewhat larger in the Middle and Deep South than the Border South. Obviously influences other than ethnocultural conflict--such as perceived differences in the economic interests of town versus country--may have contributed to this divide, but for some native southerners ethnocultural tension seemed an important explanation.

The data base for this electoral analysis does not include some of the 75 urban places which were the basis for the findings in Table 1. South Carolina had no popular voting for presidential electors (thus excluding Columbia and Charleston), and the District of Columbia did not participate in presidential elections (eliminating Georgetown and Washington). Because Texas voters could cast their ballots anywhere in the state in presidential elections, it would be unwise to assume that all of the votes at urban polling places came from urban residents (leaving out Austin, Brownsville, Galveston, Houston, and San Antonio). An analagous problem prevents the use of data for Savannah; its parent county-Chatham--seems to have had only one polling place, thereby inextricably mixing the ballots of rural dwellers in Chatham County with those of Savannahians. Also, municipal-level voting results for some places still elude me. County-level returns have been conveniently accessible since the publication of Walter Dean Burn ham's Presidential Ballots, 1836-1892 (1955; rpt. New York, 1976), but so far there appears to be no comparable hardcopy or electronic compilation of municipal results. Official returns for some locales can be found in state archives, but for most urban places newspapers seem to be the only source of the vote totals.

The following newspapers yielded the returns used in this study (the newspaper title is accompanied by the date or dates in November 1860, enclosed in parentheses): Athens Southern Watchman (8), Augusta Daily Constitutionalist (7), Baltimore American and Commercial Advertiser (10), Baton Rouge Daily Advocate (7), Cincinnati Daily Commercial (7, 8, 12), Columbus [Georgia] Daily Times (7), Fayetteville [North Carolina] Observer (8), Frankfort Tri-Weekly Kentucky Yeoman (8), Brownlow's Knoxville Whig (10), Lexington Kentucky Statesman (9), Louisville Courier (7-9), Louisville Daily Democrat(8), Louisville Daily Journal (7), Lynchburg Daily Virginian (7), Mobile Daily Advertiser (7-8), Nashville Daily Gazette (7), Nashville Republican Banner (7-10), Nashville Union and American (7), New Orleans Daily Picayune (7, 10), Pittsburgh Post (8), Weekly Raleigh Register (14), Richmond Daily Dispatch (7), St. Louis Daily Missouri Republican (7), Tuscaloosa Independent Monitor (9), Wilmington Delaware Republican (8), Wilmi ngton [North Carolina] Daily Journal (7, 8).

(35.) Miller, "The Enemy Within," 51-52; Takaki, Pro-Slavery Crusade, 48-54; Siegel, "Artisans and Immigrants in the Politics of Late Antebellum Georgia," 221-22, 228-30; Berlin and Gutman, "Natives and Immigrants, Free Men and Slaves," 1198-99; Michael P. Johnson, Toward a Patriarchal Republic: The Secession of Georgia (Baton Rouge and London, 1977), 100-101.

(36.) For example, see Proceedings and Debates of the Convention of Louisiana Which Assembled at the City of New Orleans January 14, 1844, 2: 109, 126, 128; Proceedings of the Maryland State Convention, to Frame a New Constitution Commenced at Annapolis, November 4, 1850, 1: 25-26,81; 2: 158.

(37.) Proceedings and Debates of the Convention of Louisiana Which Assembled at the City of New Orleans January 14, 1844, 2: 148; Proceedings of the Maryland State Convention, to Frame a New Constitution Commenced at Annapolis, November 4, 1850, 1: 22-23.
Table 1

Mean Percentage of Foreigners and Northerners in 1860 Urban Population
of White Males 21 Years and Older

Towns of 2,500-19,999 (*)

 Northern Foreign

Deep South (29 towns) 15.1 41.2
Middle South (20 towns) 11.5 26.0
Border South (15 towns) 19.9 45.7

Total South (64 towns) 15.2 37.2

Cities of 20,000 or More (**)

 Northern Foreign

Deep South (4 cities) 11.0 65.6
Middle South (2 cities) 13.4 44.2
Border South (5 cities) 10.6 55.7

Total South (11 cities) 10.9 57.5

(*)Based on complete enumeration of 79,657 white males 21 years and

(**)Based on samples with 95 percent probability that estimates fall
within plus or minus 3 percent of actual values.

Source: Manuscript Census Returns, Eighth Census of the United States,
1860, Schedule 1, Free Inhabitants, [75 cities and towns], National
Archives Microfilm Series M653.
Table 2

Percentage of Slave Users Among White Men and Women 30 Years and Median
Number of Slaves Used by Slave Users in Savannah in 1850

 Men Women
 Percentage Median Number Percentage
Nativity of Slave Users Of Slaves of Slave Users

Southerners 53.1 5 18.9
Northerners 41.6 4 10.1
Foreigners 17.4 2 6.8

Total 33.2 4 14.0

 Median Number
Nativity of Slaves

Southerners 5
Northerners 4
Foreigners 3.5

Total 5

N=1,485 men, 493 male slave users; 1,176 women, 164 female slave users

Source: Manuscript Census Returns, Seventh Census of the United States,
1850, Schedule 1, Free Inhabitants, and Schedule 2, Slave Inhabitants,
Chatham County, Georgia, National Archives Microfilm Series M432, rolls
64, 89.
Table 3

Percentage of Slave Users among White Men 30 Years and Older with $1,000
or More Property in Baton Rouge, Columbia, Montgomery, Natchez, and
Savannah (As an Aggregate) in 1860

 $1,000-4,999 $5,000-19,999 $20,000+ $1,000+
Nativity Property Property Property Property

Southerners 50.6 75.9 89.8 73.4
Northerners 28.9 66.9 84.3 60.5
Foreigners 16.5 52.6 80.2 40.7

Total 32.6 66.5 86.7 60.5


Source: Manuscript Census Returns, Eighth Census of the United States,
1860, Schedule 1, Free Inhabitants, and Schedule 2, Slave Inhabitants,
Montgomery County, Alabama, Chatham County, Georgia, East Baton Rouge
Parish, Louisiana, Adams County, Missisrolls 19, 33, 115, 143, 408, 427,
577, 595, 1227, 1237.
Table 4

Percentage of Slave Users Among White Foreigners 30 Years and Older with
$1,000 or More Property in Five Deep South Cities in 1860

 $1,000-4,999 $5,000-$19,9999 $20,000+ $1,000+
Nativity Property Property Property Property

British 20.8 67.2 80.0 53.4
Irish 18.8 45.1 85.0 39.3
German 13.1 50.0 73.3 34.3
Other foreign 14.5 51.3 81.0 39.1

Total 16.5 52.6 80.2 40.7

Nativity Property

British 44.4
Irish 40.0
German 33.3
Other foreign 47.8

Total 42.5

N=702 men, 113 women

Source: Same as Table 3.
Table 5

Percentage of Slave Users among White Women 30 Years and Older with
$1,000 or More Property Five Deep South Cities in 1860

 $1,000-4,999 $5,000-19,999 $20,000+ $1,000+
Nativity Property Property Property Property

Southerners 52.1 70.5 73.0 63.0
Northerners 23.5 72.4 60.0 48.1
Foreigners 29.4 54.3 80.0 42.5

Total 44.7 68.8 71.9 58.3


Source: Same as Table 3.
Table 6

Median Number of Slaves Used by White Male Slave Users 30 Years and
Older with $1,000 or More Property in Five Deep south Cities in 1860

 $1,000-4,999 $5,000-19,999 $20,000+ $1,000+
Nativity Property Property Property Property

Southerners 2 6 13 7
Northerners 2 4 7 4
Foreigners 2 4 8 4

Total 2 5 11 6


Source: Same as Table 3
Table 7

Median Number of Slaves Used by White Foreign Slave Users 30 Years and
Older with $1,000 or More Property in Five Deep South Cities in 1860

 Men Women
 $1,000-4,999 $5,000-19,999 $20,000+ $1,000+ $1,000+
Nativity Property Property Property Property Property

British 2 4.5 9 5 3
Irish 2 4 6 4 4.5
German 1.5 3 7 3 3
Other foreign 1 3 7.5 3 2

Total 2 4 8 4 3

N=286 men, 48 women

Source: Same as Table 3.
Table 8

Median Number of Slaves Used by White Female Slave Users 30 Years and
Older with $1,000 or More Property in Five Deep South Cities in 1860

 $1,000-4,999 $5,000-19,999 $20,000+ $10,000+
Nativity Property Property Property Property

Southerners 3 7 15 5
Northerners 2 4 5 4
Foreigners 2 2 5 3

Total 3 6 11.5 5


Source: Same as Table 3.
Table 9

Percentage of Slave Users Among White Men 30 Years and Older with $1,000
or More of Property, and Median Number of Slaves Used by Slave Users in
Savannah in 1860

 Persisters (*) Post-1850
 Migrants (**)
 Percentage of Median Number Percentage of
Nativity Slave Users of Slaves Slave Users

Southerners 76.8 7.5 62.1
Northerners 66.7 4 35.9
Foreigners 49.6 4 24.4

Total 67.5 6 39.7

 Migrants (**)
 Median Number
Nativity of Slaves

Southerners 5
Northerners 4
Foreigners 4

Total 4

N=944 men, 517 slave users

Source: Manuscript Census Returns, Seventh Census of the United States,
1850, Schedule 1, Free Inhabitants, and Schedule 2, Slave Inhabitants,
Chatham County, Georgia, National Archives Microfilm Series M432, rolls
64,89; Eighth Census of the United States, 1860, Schedule 1, Free
Inhabitants, and Schedule 2, Slave Inhabitants, Chatham County, Georgia,
National Archives Microfilm Series, M653, rolls 115, 143.

(*)Resided in Savannah in both 1850 and 1860 censuses

(**)Resided in Savannah in 1860 but not 1850
Table 10

Percentage of Cessation of Slaveholding among White Male Residential
Persisters in Savannah 1850-1860

Nativity Percentage

Southerners 25.3
Northerners 35.2
Foreigners 43.7

Total 32.6


Source: Same as Table 2 and Table N2 (note 12).
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Author:Rousey, Dennis C.
Publication:Journal of Social History
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Dec 22, 2001
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