Friday, February 14, 2014

EdCafe Reflection

EdCafe is an interesting alternative to the usual socrative seminars and class discussions. I liked how the discussions were smaller groups. This allowed everyone to participate more and the conversation to progress more quickly than a socrative seminar where two or three question took the whole period. This allowed seven or so questions to be discussed in 15 minutes. I also liked how you got to choose topics that interested you. While in this EdCafe the topics were all fairly similar, this has a lot of potential and can lead to better discussions because people talk more when they are interested. The EdCafe can be improved by having fewer groups present at a time. Some groups only had one or two attendees, so the discussions were not as good as they good have been with more minds contributing. It also would be better if the overall EdCafe had a broader theme. This would allow a greater array of topics which would be more interesting.

I feel that I did a pretty good job presenting. I was well prepared for the discussion with plenty of questions. We barely got through half of the questions we prepared. I also think I prepared a good intro. The discussion went pretty well, but there were only two attendees, so it didn’t get very in depth. I could improve by picking a better topic next time. I thought my topic was interesting, but almost no one came so I assume it could have been better. Overall, though, I feel I did a pretty good job presenting.

I also feel like I was a good attendee. I participated frequently in the discussions and feel like my points contributed to the discussion. Both EdCafes I attended had very interesting and well done discussions. I also think that I took as good of notes as I could with still participating frequently in the discussion. I took note of most of the questions and of the good points that people made. My notes are for the post part a good representation of what I learned. However, I missed some stuff because it is hard enough to write as fast as people talk without having to participate yourself. I did a good job as an attendee as well as presenter. 

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Money Above Morals

The common conception of Antebellum America is that the north was pro-abolition and the south was pro-slavery. However, it was not as strait forward as this. Many northerners did object to slavery, both morally and economically. However, some northerners recognized that they economically were dependent on and benefited from slavery and, so, they were opposed to abolition.

One group of northerners opposed to slavery both morally and economically was the mill girls. The mill girls felt like they went through similar hardships as the slaves did because they both had long hard work and were not treated very well. It is because of this connection they felt that they were pro-abolition. The mill girls were very active in abolitionist causes and more than 1600 of them signed an abolition petition and thousands showed up for pro-abolition rallies. The mill girls were morally against the unfair treatment that they viewed slavery as and did not allow selfish motives to silence their opinion. 

This was not the case for many northern businessmen. Northern factories, especially mills, relied on southern slave-grown crops to manufacture goods out of. This industry made up almost the entire economy of places like Lowell and, so, many business owners had economic interests invested in slavery. Slave labor was needed to make cotton farming economically viable, so as slave labor grew the number of cotton mills was also able to grow. This is shown in the chart below. As time progresses, the slave population increases significantly and so does the number of mills and mill jobs. This shows the economic impact of slavery on the mill towns and the dependency on it. Because mill owners made so much more money from slave grown cotton, the slaves were important to their success and the mill owners did not want to lose slave labor. Because of this, mill owners and other important businessmen did not want to support abolition regardless of their moral views.

Even though many northerners were not opposed economically to slavery, they did display signs of moral opposition. This is shown in the speeches of anti-abolitionists. One paper says, “We go against Southern Lynch-Law, and Southern mobs, and Southern threats.” Since most anti-abolitionists are against what they perceive as the negative aspects of slavery, it shows that they have moral hesitations. They recognize that how slaves are treated is not right, yet they do not want to change it. This indicates that they have another motive behind their actions, most likely an economic one. Most of the prominent anti-abolitionists were those who had monetary connections to slaves and slave-grown cotton. These include mill owners like Kirk Boott and Abbot Lawrence, and even the mayor of Boston. Ultimately, economic motives shaped their stance on slavery.

Despite popular belief, many northerners in Antebellum America were not opposed to slavery. While most may have had moral issues with slavery, many had other motives that overpowered moral opposition. Those who were publicly against slavery did not usually benefit from slavery and, so, had no economic motives. These were people like the mill girls who wanted to help the slaves. However, many prominent and wealthy people cared more about the economic benefits of slavery than its downsides. Because of this, many northerners were actually anti-abolition. Many northerners in Antebellum America were not opposed to slavery, as most people believe.

Coverage of Lowell’s Anti-Abolitionist Meeting. August 28, 1835. Lowell Patriot. Pollard Memorial Library, Lowell. Accessed on February 6, 2014.