Complicity: How the North Promoted, Prolonged, and Profited from Slavery

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The North is popularly considered the catalyst of the abolitionist movement in antebellum America and is often glorified in its struggle against slavery; however, a lesser-known installment of the Northern involvement during this era is one of its complicity in the development of a “science” of race that helped to rationalize and justify slavery and racism throughout America. The economic livelihood of the North was dependent on the fruits of slave labor and thus the North, albeit with some reluctance, inherently conceded to tolerate slavery and moreover embarked on a quest to sustain and legitimize the institution through scientific research. Racism began to progress significantly following the American Revolution after which Thomas …show more content…
[…] If a farmer wanted to expand operations, he required the deep pockets of Northern banks to lend him the money to buy additional equipment, as well as additional labor. (13)

Northerners adopted theories of black inferiority and sought to rationalize them in an attempt to continue industrial advancement and maintain fiduciary wellness. Black inferiority and racial prejudicial sentiments germinated and were validated in an article written by Thomas Jefferson entitled Notes on the State of Virginia, a work that marked the inauguration of racial science. In these notes, Jefferson declared that blacks were unchangeably inferior in both mind and body.
In the midst of a long passage on black people in his Notes on the State of Virginia, Thomas Jefferson (who sniffed that [Phyllis] Wheatley’s poetry was “below the dignity of criticism”) proposed that black inferiority- “in the endowment of both body and mind”- might be an unchangeable law of nature. (181)

The famous work attracted scholars from colleges in the North who would expand upon Jefferson’s approach to racial science and anneal the theory that black people were subhuman.
Ensuing Jefferson’s doctrine, racial science developed rapidly with the accrual of select Northern scientists whose goal was to further the boundaries of ethnology and phrenology. The most influential of these scientists were Samuel George Morton and his two cohorts Josiah Nott and Louis Agassiz; Morton launched a study

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