A Northern Traveler in the South, 1859

From: bernhard1848@att.net

Cheap and replaceable German or Irish laborers were commonly found at Southern wharves in the antebellum years, and more expensive black labor maintained at the cotton plantations. New England mills, dependent on their wage-slaves working 14-16 hour days, drove the cotton plantation economy into high profitability and expansion. New England mill owners and Manhattan bank owners who provided high-interest credit to the plantation owners could have easily ended African slavery had they so wished.

Bernhard Thuersam, Chairman
North Carolina War Between the States Sesquicentennial Commission
"The Official Website of the North Carolina WBTS Sesquicentennial"


A Northern Traveler in the South, 1859:

Diary of John S. C. Abbott, of Brunswick, Maine.

“Dec. 11. – This – Sunday – is the greatest market day of the French Quarter in New Orleans. The whole scene is most decidedly French.  Nothing has surprised me more in New Orleans than the small number of the colored population. When the Desoto was made fast to the levee, the wide and extended plateau was thronged with laborers, but they were nearly all Germans or Irish. It was the same in the streets as we drove through them.

Upon speaking of this to a very intelligent gentleman, he observed that the slaves were becoming so exceedingly profitable upon the plantations, that large numbers had been sold from the city for that purpose.

I am struck with the kindness with which the white population address the negroes, and the manifest friendly relations which generally exist between the two classes. The negrophobia at the North is unknown at the South.

Dec. 12. —  I met a Northern gentleman this morning, and almost his first words were: “As to this peculiar institution, I was always in favor of slavery when in the North, and I am still more so now that I have come South.  The slaves are much better off than the laboring classes at the North.” Noticing, perhaps, my look of surprise, he added:  “The poor laboring classes I mean, the poor ones.”

The condition of the slave, under a humane master, is undoubtedly preferable to that of the prostitutes, vagabonds, and thieves of the Five Points in New York. If this be the eulogy slavery demands, let it not be withheld.

Dec. 15. – At eleven o’clock yesterday I reached Mobile. Here, as in New Orleans, I was surprised to see how effectually free labor seems to have driven slave labor from the wharves and the streets. The Irish and the Germans seem to do nearly all the work of the streets. White girls are being also more and more employed in domestic service; and I think that but a few years will pass ere nearly all the colored population will be removed from the cities of the South. Indeed, now, New Orleans and Mobile seem but little more like slave cities than do Philadelphia and New York.”

(A Mirror for Americans, Life and Manners in the United States 1790-1870, Warren S. Tryon, editor,  University of Chicago Press, pp. 405-409)