Masterless Men: Poor Whites and Slavery in the Antebellum South (Unabridged) - Keri Leigh Merritt

Masterless Men: Poor Whites and Slavery in the Antebellum South (Unabridged)

By Keri Leigh Merritt

  • Release Date: 2019-04-12
  • Genre: History
  • ℗ © 2019 Keri Leigh Merritt

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Masterless Men: Poor Whites and Slavery Keri Leigh Merritt

Summary : Masterless Men: Poor Whites and Slavery in the Antebellum South (Unabridged)

Analyzing land policy, labor, and legal history, Keri Leigh Merritt reveals what happens to excess workers when a capitalist system is predicated on slave labor. With the rising global demand for cotton - and thus, slaves - in the 1840s and 1850s, the need for white laborers in the American South was drastically reduced, creating a large underclass who were unemployed or underemployed. These poor whites could not compete - for jobs or living wages - with profitable slave labor. Though impoverished whites were never subjected to the daily violence and degrading humiliations of racial slavery, they did suffer tangible socioeconomic consequences as a result of living in a slave society. 

Merritt examines how these '"masterless" men and women threatened the existing Southern hierarchy and ultimately helped push Southern slaveholders toward secession and civil war.

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