This chapter explores the ecological regime of slavery and the land-use practices employed by farmers across the antebellum South. Despite the diverse ecologies and crop regimes of the region, most southern farmers employed a set of extensive agricultural techniques that kept the cost of farming down and helped circumvent natural limits on crop production and stock-raising. The use of shifting cultivation, free-range animal husbandry, and slaves to perform erosion control masked the environmental impacts of farmers’ actions, at least temporarily. Debates over westward expansion during the sectional crisis of the 1850s were not just about the extension of slavery, they also reflected practical concerns regarding access to new lands and fresh soil. Both were necessary for the continued profitability of farming in the South.
Oxford Scholarship Online requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books within the service. Public users can however freely search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter.
If you think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.