The defenders of slavery were up for the challenge set forth by the Abolitionists. They argued that ending slavery would greatly affect the economy of the South, which depended on slave labor. The cotton economy could be destroyed, the tobacco crop dry in the fields and rice would not be profitable.
By freeing the slaves, some argued that there would be a lot of unemployment and chaos leading to social unrest. They believed it was the nature of mankind since slavery had existed throughout history. The Greeks, Romans and English, all had slaves. In addition, they claimed that even Abraham from the Bible had slaves.
Defenders of slavery also went for legal advice. The courts had ruled, with the Dred Scott Decision, that all blacks—not just slaves—had no legal standing as persons in our courts—they were property and the Constitution protected slaveholders’ rights to their property. Defenders of slavery argued that the slaves would be taken care of, fed and attended to when sick and aged unlike they when they would be fired from their work and left to fend helplessly for themselves.
Source: Southern Argument for Slavery
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