Travel west and old south
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Travel West and Old South. Themes. Why and how people traveled to the American West Antebellum Life under slavery Structure of Southern society . Why Travel?. Religion - Mormons Free Land Gold . Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Mormon Church).

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  • Why and how people traveled to the American West

  • Antebellum

  • Life under slavery

  • Structure of Southern society

Why travel
Why Travel?

  • Religion

    - Mormons

  • Free Land

  • Gold

Church of jesus christ of latter day saints mormon church
Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints(Mormon Church)

  • The Church’s Founder: Joseph Smith

  • Received revelations from an angel in 1820 and published Book of Mormon in 1830

  • Eventually settles with many followers in Illinois

Mormon followers and persecution
Mormon Followers and Persecution

  • New revelations in Book of Mormon seemed to undermine the Bible

  • Actions appeared to violate separation of church and state

  • Accused of odd sexual practices

  • In 1844 Joseph Smith was murdered in Illinois and the church was now leaderless

Church of jesus christ of latter day saints mormon church1
Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints(Mormon Church)

  • After the death of Smith a new leader emerged:

  • Brigham Young

  • Goal: Freedom from religious persecution

  • Migration to Utah began in 1847

  • By 1848, 5,000 settlers had migrated

  • In 1896 Utah became a state

Donation land claim act 1850
Donation Land Claim Act (1850)

  • To encourage migration west

  • Free land in Oregon Country:

  • White, male citizens over 18 could receive 320 acres of land

  • If married, his spouse could receive 320 additional acres

  • Land had to be occupied four years and improve it

  • Over 2.5 million acres was given out to over 7,000 people

  • Only whites were eligible for land

California gold rush
California Gold Rush

  • 1848 gold was discovered outside of Sacramento

  • News was confirmed by President Polk in 1848

  • Population explosion:

    1848- 14,000

    1852- 225,000

California gold rush1
California Gold Rush

  • Prospectors initially worked alone

  • 49ers could earn $50/day

  • By 1850s they might work in groups using a “Long Tom”

  • Prospectors came from all over the United States and the world:

    Central and South America, Europe, Australia, and Asia

California gold rush2
California Gold Rush

  • 95% of Gold Rush migrants were male

  • Some made fortunes; most did not

  • Others sold items to prospectors

  • Levi Strauss a German immigrant who struck it rich selling pants to prospectors

Travel west how
Travel West; How?

  • Some travelled by sea

  • Ships could travel from East Coast around the tip of South America to West Coast

  • If traveling by sea, gold fields were the probable destination

  • Most took overland trails

    -Between 1840-1860 approximately 300,000 made the journey: 200,000 California, 53,000 Oregon, 43,000 Utah

Travel west the journey
Travel West (The Journey)

  • Length of trip: 4-6 months

  • Chief expense was transportation; a wagon and gear might cost $400

  • Most travelers were of the “middle class” (semi-successful farmers, merchants, etc)

  • Walking over 2,000 miles

  • Travelers feared conflict with Indians; while there was some conflict, most interaction was positive

  • Average death rate was less than 5%

  • “Wagon Train”


  • Highest slave population located in Southeast

  • Cotton’s demand for slave labor

  • Cotton export:

    - by 1840: 51.6%

    - by 1860: 57.5%

  • By 1860 slavery spread over entire South

  • Small-scale cotton farming did not require slave labor whereas large operations involved many slaves

Slave life
Slave Life

  • A majority of slaves:

    - lived on large plantations with at least 10 slaves

    - worked in “gangs” under close supervision

Slave life1
Slave Life

  • Slave Narrative: Solomon Northup

  • Woke before sunrise, ate and then went to fields

  • Worked sunrise to sunset

  • Quota: 200lbs of cotton or whipped

  • Chores had to be completed at night

Slave life2
Slave Life

  • Diet: corn meal and salted pork

  • Often raised vegetables, fished, and hunted small animals

  • Worked six days per week; earned money for Sunday work

  • Christmas was celebrate as a holiday (Only time slaves could eat till they were filled)

Slave life3
Slave Life

  • Slaves could be beaten and whipped; even for minor offenses

  • Some slaves were forced to wear a torture mask

  • To cope:

    - Slaves developed close family ties, marriages were common and encouraged by slave owners

Slave life4
Slave Life

  • Family members were often separated because of internal slave trade (international slave trade abolished)

  • Slave owners in Upper South profited by selling slaves to Deep South or Southwest

Slave life5
Slave Life

  • Slaves sometimes stole food, faked illness, or worked slowly

  • Some ran away

    - Underground Railroad

    - Harriet Tubman, former slaves, led others to freedom

Slave life6
Slave Life

  • Nat Turner Rebellion 1831

  • Location: Southampton, VA

  • A slave named Nat Turner led a rebellion of slaves and killed over 60 white men, women, and children

  • Turner and 16 slaves are captured and executed

  • Whites went all around the countryside killing any blacks they encountered and beheaded them

Slave life7
Slave Life

  • Slave owners encourage slaves to become Christian

  • Slaves identified with:

    -Promised Land (freedom)

    - Stories of Jews enslaved by Egyptian Pharaohs

White southern society
White Southern Society

  • Justifications for Slavery (Biblical)

  • Many argued it was “natural” for people of African ancestry to be enslaved

  • The Bible was used:

    - “Curse of Ham”: “Cursed be Canaan; lowest of slaves shall he be to his brothers” (Gen 9:20)

White southern society1
White Southern Society

  • “When a slave owner strikes a male or female slave with a rod and the slave dies immediately, the owner shall be punished. But if the slave survives a day to two, there is no punishment; for the slave is the owner’s property.” (Exodus 21: 20-21)

  • “Slaves, obey your earthly masters with fear and trembling, in singleness of heart, as you obey Christ”(Ephesians 6: 5)

White southern society2
White Southern Society

  • Historical

  • Ancient Greeks and Romans owned slaves

  • U.S. Constitution protected slavery

    - 3/5 Compromise

  • Nation’s founders like Washington and Jefferson were slave owners

White southern society3
White Southern Society

  • Social

  • Paternalism: Slaves were like children (family) in need of help. Civilization and Christianity were brought to people considered inferior.

  • They took care of their slaves by providing food and shelter

  • George Fitzhugh – Pro-slavery argument

  • Described Northern factory workers as “wage slaves”

  • No one looked after factory workers’ needs

  • Argued slave owners took care of slaves even when slaves grew old

White southern society4
White Southern Society

  • According to Virginian Thomas R. Dew, Most slaves declared that, “the slaves of a good master are his warmest, most constant, and most devoted friends”John C. Calhoun, and influential southern politician, declared that in the states where slavery had been abolished, “the condition of the African, instead of being improved, has become worse,” while in the slave states, the Africans, “have improved greatly in every respect.”

White southern society5
White Southern Society

  • Arguments did not explain slavery fully:

  • Ignored separation of families

  • If slavery was so good, why did so many slaves try to escape?

  • Victims of slavery faced violence and horrible living conditions

White southern society6
White Southern Society

  • Southern women were expected to defer to their husbands

  • Women were expected to treat slaves harshly in the household

White southern society7
White Southern Society

  • Society structure

  • Great Planters – 1% of pop: 20+ slaves

  • Small Farmers – 35-45% of pop: 0-3 slaves

  • Landless Whites – 20-25% of pop

  • Slaves – 35% of pop

White southern society8
White Southern Society

  • About 75% of Southern whites did NOT own slaves

  • Question: Why would Southern whites fight to protect slavery in the Civil War if they didn’t own slaves?

Small farmers
Small Farmers

  • Freeing slaves was not a Union war aim until about two years into the Civil War

  • Many in Deep South identified with local communities; not the nation as a whole

  • Large plantations were the social center of life in the South

  • Large planters lent small farmers a “helping hand” VERY often

Small farmers1
Small Farmers

  • All Southern whites had one common trait; they weren’t slaves

  • If slavery existed, they weren’t on the “bottom” of their society


  • How and why did people travel to American West? How did this impact the nation?

  • Describe and evaluate life in the Old South