Slavery played a dominating and critical role in much of Southern life. In the
struggle for control in America, slavery was the South’s stronghold and the hidden motive
behind many political actions and economic statistics. By dominating Southern life, slavery
also dominated the economic and political aspects of life in the South from 1840 to 1860.
By the 1840’s and 50’s the Southern economy had almost completely become
slave and cash crop agriculture based. Without slaves in the south a person was left either
landless and penniless or struggling to get by on a small farm. However, even though
slaves dominated the southern economy, slaveholders only included about 2 to 3 percent
of the population. This small percentage was the amount of people successful in a slave
based, cash crop agricultural, Southern economy. Therefore, the Southern economy was
controlled and dominated by those who did and did not have slaves. Furthermore, with the
high demand for Southern items in Europe and Northern America more slaves were
needed in the South to produce these cash crops. Without slaves there would be no
cotton, tobacco, or sugar production and without these integral items the Southern
economy would absolutely fail. The South depended on slaves to fuel their economy and
therefore slavery dominated their economy.
Between 1840 and 1860 many political issues, debates, and actions were inflamed
by slavery. As America grew, the South wanted more slave states and the North wanted
more free states to increase their hold in politics. One important act that fueled the slavery
dominated political world of 1840 to 1860 was the Kansas and Nebraska act written by
Stephen Douglas. This act repealed the Missouri Compromise of 1820 and called for
popular sovereignty in Kansas and Nebraska which under the Missouri Compromise had
been free. The Missouri Compromise was originally an act to settle disputes about free
states and slave states entering the Union. To...