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Segregation in South Carolina


State capitol at Columbia
State capitol at Columbia

During the nullification battle, South Carolinians became increasingly alarmed over attacks on slavery by abolitionists, who wanted slavery ended totally and immediately. The slavery issue loomed larger as Congress debated the question of the extension of slavery into the newly acquired territories in the West. Many Congress members from the Northern states pressed to end slavery, both because it was considered immoral and because white labor could not compete with unpaid black labor. Members from the Deep South (North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Florida) believed that slavery was essential to their cotton-centered agricultural system and that the North was trying to dominate the national economy. Southern plantation owners feared that, if the new territories all became antislavery states, they would join with the North in Congress and force an end to slavery in the South.

South Carolina was one of only three states with a black majority, and thus the entire white population was especially apprehensive about what would happen to their society if the slaves became free. They had memories of the Stono Uprising of 1739, starting near Charles Town, in which 25 whites were killed; and the aborted rebellion of Denmark Vesey in 1822, which involved 2,000 to 3,000 slaves. Vesey’s plan was well organized and, had he not been betrayed, might have accomplished its goal of seizing the arsenals in Charleston and burning the city. The so-called fire-eaters, politicians who wanted secession, tried but failed to push South Carolina into seceding in 1850. Henry Clay came up with another compromise, embodied in the Compromise Measures of 1850, that postponed the showdown for another decade. However, the agitation for secession increased. "South Carolina" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia

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