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Unredeemed LandAn Environmental History of Civil War and Emancipation in the Cotton South$
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Erin Stewart Mauldin

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780190865177

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190865177.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 19 October 2021

Deferring Crisis

Deferring Crisis

(p.11) 1 Deferring Crisis
Unredeemed Land

Erin Stewart Mauldin

Oxford University Press

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.

Keywords:   slavery, slaves, livestock, cotton, antebellum period, farming, westward expansion, secession, plantations

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