Why wasn't there slavery in the Northern agricultural states?

Apr 2014
203
Earth
Whew...I didn't know if my long title would be small enough!

I have two questions.

1.) Why didn't any "Northern State" have slavery? I have family in Iowa and have been in that state as a child and it is basically farmland with towns cut between the corn. Why weren't slaves used in Iowa to, I don't know, pick corn? Were chattel slavery more useful with cotton than corn or wheat, or more northern crops? That is the only thing I can think of, because land in. Illinois or Iowa is much more fertile than Alabama or Mississippi soil.

2.) How far north were slaves in Missouri? Missouri is one of one states that doesn't really have a region. It is Southern, Northern and Midwestern. I mean, what is St. Louis, southern, northern, or Midwestern? Doesn't much have an identity. I have traveled through the great Show Me State and it starts Southern until one gets north of St. Louis, where the land looks more Midwestern and a lot more like Iowa, where more "Midwestern" crops were grown like corn, and not so much cotton.
 

Viperlord

Ad Honorem
Aug 2010
8,109
VA
Whew...I didn't know if my long title would be small enough!

I have two questions.

1.) Why didn't any "Northern State" have slavery? I have family in Iowa and have been in that state as a child and it is basically farmland with towns cut between the corn. Why weren't slaves used in Iowa to, I don't know, pick corn? Were chattel slavery more useful with cotton than corn or wheat, or more northern crops? That is the only thing I can think of, because land in. Illinois or Iowa is much more fertile than Alabama or Mississippi soil.

2.) How far north were slaves in Missouri? Missouri is one of one states that doesn't really have a region. It is Southern, Northern and Midwestern. I mean, what is St. Louis, southern, northern, or Midwestern? Doesn't much have an identity. I have traveled through the great Show Me State and it starts Southern until one gets north of St. Louis, where the land looks more Midwestern and a lot more like Iowa, where more "Midwestern" crops were grown like corn, and not so much cotton.
The slaves in Missouri were generally concentrated around the Missouri River itself and somewhat to the north of it. Ironically, the southern portion of the state was largely devoid of any large-scale slavery.

1860 Map Shows Missouri's Slave Population | Riverfront Times
 
Feb 2013
1,283
Second City
I'm surprised that nobody has yet mentioned the [ame="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Northwest_Ordinance"]Northwest Ordinance 1787[/ame] pertaining to the "Territory of the United States, North-West of the River Ohio. It was originally passed by the Congress of Confederation, and then reaffirmed by the U.S. Congress and President Washington in 1789. Its Article VI reads:
Art. 6 There shall be neither slavery nor involuntary servitude in the said territory, otherwise than in the punishment of crimes whereof the party shall have been duly convicted: Provided, always, That any person escaping into the same, from whom labor or service is lawfully claimed in any one of the original States, such fugitive may be lawfully reclaimed and conveyed to the person claiming his or her labor or service as aforesaid.
However, the often overlooked [ame="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Land_Ordinance_of_1784"]Northwest Ordinance of 1784[/ame] is worthy of note. In the original draft authored by Jefferson, Clause V. read: "After the year 1800 there shall be neither slavery nor involuntary servitude in any of them." This was rejected by the Chesapeake and the Carolinas and the vote to strike the clause was won by a single ballot. Jefferson was tremendously distraught at this outcome, particularly as the vote seems to have been seriously effected by the absence of at least two members who Jefferson believed would have voted to keep the measure. I suspect that this failure to ban slavery in the trans-Appalachian territories contributed to Jefferson's later decision to ignore the entreaties of Thomas Paine and Joel Barlow and others and refrain from trying to block slavery in the Louisiana Territory. This eventuated in the Missouri Compromise of 1820, which--with the exception of Missouri--prohibited slavery north of 36°30′ latitude.

This did not, of course, prevent slavery from appearing in the states of the Old Northwest, and despite state laws banning slavery (and sometimes blacks entirely), it persisted on the northern banks of the Ohio until the Civil War. Nor should we forget that Missouri was a slave state and just as agricultural as Illinois or Kansas, the latter of which experienced its own civil war over whether or not to allow slavery in the territory.
 
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Wenge

Ad Honoris
Apr 2011
10,429
Virginia
Question: What was the first colony to recognize slavery as a viable institution?
 
Nov 2012
1,700
Question: What was the first colony to recognize slavery as a viable institution?
Virginia, I think? Once they started growing tobacco there.


To answer the original question, I think it boiled down to

1. Money

2. Climate and disease

There was far more money in the cash crops of the sub-tropical regions and islands than there was in growing food crops in the north. As such, the bulk of slaves suitable for agricultural work during the slave trade were going to be taken to the south, where they would fetch much higher prices. As the profitability of cotton grew, it caused more and more slaves to be sold from the north to the south, together with the pressure from growing emancipation and graduated emancipation in Northern states.

Secondly, for the 18th and much of the 19th centuries, the subtropical regions where the most profitable cash crops were grown were malaria-infested, and Europeans working in the fields in such areas died in droves, while Africans had partial resistance to the disease. Most of the white indentured servants imported to work in the Caribbean during the 17th century died within a mere couple years. If they hadn't, history might have seen more exploitation of the European poor in the Caribbean and less African slavery.
 
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Wenge

Ad Honoris
Apr 2011
10,429
Virginia
Virginia, I think? Once they started growing tobacco there.


To answer the original question, I think it boiled down to

1. Money

2. Climate and disease

There was far more money in the cash crops of the sub-tropical regions and islands than there was in growing food crops in the north. As such, the bulk of slaves suitable for agricultural work during the slave trade were going to be taken to the south, where they would fetch much higher prices. As the profitability of cotton grew, more and more slaves were sold south, together with the pressure from growing emancipation and graduated emancipation in Northern states.

Secondly, for the 18th and much of the 19th centuries, the subtropical regions where the most profitable cash crops were grown were malaria-infested, and Europeans working in the fields in such areas died in droves, while Africans had partial resistance to the disease. Most of the white indentured servants imported to work in the Caribbean during the 17th century died within a mere couple years. If they hadn't, history might have seen more exploitation of the European poor in the Caribbean and less African slavery.
Massachusetts

Slavery and the Making of America . Timeline | PBS
 
Nov 2012
1,700
That's very interesting. I couldn't remember off the top of my head. I think it's a prime example that shows that the proliferation or eventual extinguishment of slavery had nothing to do with the initial laws governing it. I remember that the first African slaves brought into Virginia were treated as indentured servants and freed after a period of service, because English law prior to the 17th century did not recognize slavery. How things changed.
 
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