Ordinary People In The Antebellum Era

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We meet no ordinary people in our lives. If you give them a chance, everyone has something amazing to offer. So, what do the lives of average citizens reveal about the environment that they live in? We tend to look at the history of the United States through the eyes of some of the most influential individuals of the time period, presidents, inventors, and generals. But what about the common person? The lives of marginalized Americans such as sailor Horace Lane, accused runaway slave Alexina Morrison, and poor white women provide different lenses by which to study progress made between 1790 and 1860. By looking at the lives of ordinary Americans throughout the antebellum era, we are better equipped to understand the social ideologies…show more content…
The North was pressing for the freedom of slaves while the South was clinching onto anything that would keep the enslaved population in place. So much so that even sporting events embodied the values held by the opposing sides. When the horse race between Sir Henry of the South and Eclipse of the North took place, the most popular question was if a person was rooting for the Free States or Slave States. In addition to this racial divide, the Morrison v White suit begged two major questions: could slaves become white? And: could whites become slaves? As the racial lines started to blur, slaveholders and southern politicians made every effort to cement the idea of slavery with blackness and slaveholding with whiteness. Both the horse race between the North and South and the court case surrounding what makes a person black or white illuminate the important role of race in Antebellum…show more content…
The most apparent distinction in social class were the opportunities available to the elite compared with the lack of opportunities for the marginalized whites and the enslaved population. The elite were rich, educated, and held the skilled jobs in the labor force. This led to powerful people attaining more and increasing the distance between themselves and the ordinary American. On the other hand, there were slaves who had no authority over what they could do. The enslaved population performed taxing, unskilled, manual labor and had no opportunities to improve their way of life. The marginalized whites fell somewhere in between, but closer to the enslaved population in some respects. Like slaves, poor whites had very low levels of literacy. Therefore, most of the unskilled jobs around were already taken by a slave. This led to many young men enlisting in the military at young ages to escape the situations that they were born into. Sailor Horace Lane escaped his poor background shortly before returning to a life of poverty, stricken by failure and odd jobs as he tried to climb to a better life. By studying ordinary Americans, we are able to distinguish the opportunities available in different social classes in the antebellum

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