Slavery and manifest destiny were surely major sources of cultural divide in the nation because of human rights violations and the commoditization of people. This sample short essay examines the paradox of American liberty out west, and how slavery perpetuated conflict in newfound areas of the country.
Slavery and Manifest Destiny
Slavery in itself was an unethical means of exploiting those that were African for the sake of cheap labor. According to Rise of the Cotton Kingdom (1836), Frederick Norcom commented that
“slavery was only a means for enabling a few to get rich at the expense of others”. In citing the figures with selling slaves, “more than 6,000 negroes and 10,000 horses and mules have been sold in Yazoo County alone…”
People were merely seen as property which could be exploited by white men. By adding more slave states through manifest destiny, this exploitation was only furthered. As a result, slavery and manifest destiny both caused more discontent and human rights violations.
Slavery also caused cultural divides because blacks were not given an option to express themselves without punishment or face the death penalty. For instance, Frederick Douglass on the Desire of Freedom (1845) gave examples where the black man was oppressed without an opportunity to idealize American freedom. Douglass lamented that
“I often found myself regretting my own existence, and wishing myself dead…”
As far as blacks like Douglass were concerned, slavery was merely a form of exploitation that required whites to travel to Africa and steal them from their homes. Indeed, Douglass further cited that
“I loathed them as being the meanest and most wicked of men…”
This was surely a cultural divide because it represented a difference of opinion and clear exploitation. Again, as manifest destiny merely perpetuated such divides, more slavery meant more schism in the nation. Slavery was seen as a very good thing for whites because it offered wealth and riches; however, it meant a terrible life and little confidence in America for blacks.
A large cultural divide
Finally, slavery and the potential for more slavery states through manifest destiny was indicative of cultural divide because there was negligence towards the truth of the matter when it came to ethical considerations. For example, in Rules of Highland Plantation (1838), a plantation owner cited that slaves are at the mercy of the owners:
“they are always liable to my call without questioning for a moment the propriety of it.”
Slaves were treated as objects, and they were expected to work in such conditions without any thought to the ethical morality of it. George Fitzhugh and the Proslavery Argument (1854) also supported this notion by making an argument for the misguided nature of understanding slavery. This text praised slave culture in the South by showing how it was a good thing for all of society; however, it was clearly negative and caused many ethical and human rights concerns. Because of the bias within such sources, it is clear that some southern whites did not see an issue with the expansion of slavery as they believed it was for the greater good. The later Civil War would show that it was indeed a clear issue that was neglected and should have been dealt with.
Clearly, slavery caused many human rights issues that were perpetuated by the inclusion of more slave states with manifest destiny. The whites exploited the blacks for their labor while stealing them from their home lands. These actions were justified by biased arguments that posited how blacks were treated well and did not complain. However, the reality was that blacks hated their lives and wanted nothing more than to experience social freedom and liberty, the cornerstone of American culture.