Before Eli Whitney came around, processing cotton took forever. 1793, Eli Whitney invented the cotton gin. The cotton gin used spiked cylinder to remove seeds from cotton fibers. Before this was invented, slaves would have to hand pick seeds out of the cotton fibers, which took forever. Before, they could only pick about one pound a day. Now they can pick about 50 pounds a day. Selling cotton became a lot more profitable than ever before.
The more cotton Planters had, the more slaves they needed. In 1790, about 698,000 Africans Americans were enslaved, just in the US alone. By 1860, there were almost 4 million African americans that were enslaved. During all of this the price of a slave increased. Alabama and Mississippi had more slaves then states like Kentucky, because they depended more on cotton. This seems unreal, but more then half of the southern farmers did not own any slaves. This was because they focused more on corn and raising animals: Hogs, cows and chickens just to name a few.
Yes, lots of whites were for slavery, but surprisingly there were many that were not. Some were scared about the slave creating violent uprising. Some Northerners were arguing that slavery should be banned in the 1830’s. The Southerners still continued to hold their ground supporting slavery. Critics argued that Northerners were able to quite a job if it became to dangerous and were able to find new ones. Northerners also argued how the slaves were abused and physically beaten by their owners.
Many basic rights to African Americans were denied. They were excluded from many, many jobs. Their children could not go to school to get an education. Also, adults were not allowed to vote, serve on the jury or testify in court. They were not allowed to even travel for any reason or means. Slave catchers were usually always out looking for free slaves to either to keep or to auction them off for profit. Most of the time free African Americans were captured. Some of them actually helped improve plantation. Norbert Rillieux improved the sugar industry by inventing the multiple-effect evaporator, an energy-efficient means of evaporating water. Another inventor was Henry Blair who created a seed-planting machine that lowered the time that it took a slave or farmer to sow a crop.
There were lots of problems faced by free African Americans, but enslaved African American were even worse off. For the slaves they had what was called “slave codes” that controlled every part of their own lives. A court in Kentucky said that slaves should be treated as a thing and not a person. Lots of enslaved African Americans were skilled workers and others worked in their owners homes. The slaves that worked in the homes would have to become maids, butlers and nannies while the skilled slaves did labor on the farms. Most of the slave owners nearly beat and worked slaves to death with no remorse! The only “real” protection they got from their owners was if they were healthy and productive which made them of more value. Most enslaved families were broken apart because their owners had no feelings and only thought about how much money they would make on the auction block! One of the saddest things was that many children if any would ever remember their parents! After 1808 you could not import enslaved Africans, it was illegal. To stay connected with their cultures, African Americans performed spirituals.
Many African Americans tried to resist their owners: by working slowly, pretending not to understand the orders that they were given and breaking equipment on purpose. Some of the really brave slaves would escape north to freedom. Sometimes resistance can become a rebellion just like that and a man by the name of Nat Turner was a great and perfect example of that! He led the most famous rebellion of them all in 1831. He is said to of had a vision that he had to kill white people which he and his “army” ended up killing almost 60 whites. Many innocent slaves were killed because the slave owners had feared that the slaves would revolt and do the same and kill them.