Masterless Men: Poor Whites and Slavery in the Antebellum South (Cambridge Studies on the American South)

Masterless Men: Poor Whites and Slavery in the Antebellum South (Cambridge Studies on the American South) by Keri Leigh Merritt 1316635430 9781316635438
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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 socio-economic 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.

Author: Keri Leigh Merritt

Language: English

Binding: Paperback

Pages: 371

Publisher: Cambridge University Press

Publication Date: 2017-12-14


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