Rearing Wolves

Essay by sfoleyUniversity, Bachelor's October 2014

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Can Urban Slavery Survive?

Many historians adamantly wrote and believed that slavery could not survive in an urban center. Takagi does not dispute the fact that it is much harder for slavery to be successful in an urban environment, just that it is not impossible. Richmond was very uncharacteristic compared to many thriving urban areas throughout the 19th Century. Many of these differences helped slavery succeed for a time, but also led to its destruction. She shows how Richmond supported slaves working in industrial centers, they used it as more of a business tactic, and how it helped train slaves in other industrial areas.

Richmond started out as very agriculturally based town. Its prime location near the ocean and James River lent it to become a thriving town of trade and manufacturing. Although slavery existed in Richmond during Revolutionary times it was not nearly as prevalent till the mid-19th century.

Slavery was very prevalent in areas where agriculture was the main source of income and work. It was less skilled labor and easier for Masters to keep their workers in line. Many large urban cities did not support the use of slaves because it was more complicated work. It is also harder to manage slaves in a small area where they would have to live away from their Master. Richmond business owners started from the growth of tobacco, and when Richmond grew, they knew how valuable their slave labor was. It was considered fundamentally wrong to train a slave in anything more complicated than grunt physical labor. That is why slavery was more prominent out in rural areas, where they pick cotton or help farm tobacco. White people thought it was above slaves to learn helpful skills that could help advance them in the world. They also assumed, which was...