ERIC Number: ED196097
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1980-Nov
Reference Count: 0
The Triumph of Mammon Over Morality: A Rhetorical Analysis of Economic and Moral Arguments in the Virginia Slave Debates.
Kahl, Mary L.; Endress, Valerie A.
Following the slave uprising led by Nat Turner in 1831, the change in public sentiment compelled Virginians to speak openly in public and in the legislature about the institution they had guarded long in silence. The effect of Turner's insurrection was further conditioned by the growing sectional antagonism between the eastern and western portions of the state. The former practiced a plantation economy based on slave labor, while the latter formed an industrious yoemanry composed of shopkeepers, artisans, and farmers--an economy independent of the slavery system. With these factors in mind, Virginians demanded open discussion of the slave problem in 1831-1832. Eastern economic interests opposed any form of emancipation, while westerners argued for exportation of the slave population. Unable to reconcile the two competing factions, Virginia's leaders focused their attention on basic moral considerations. Moral arguments on both sides of the issue were based on Biblical texts, and on the concepts of equality and liberty from the Constitution. Both sides blended moral and economic arguments to promote acceptance of their respective positions. Proslavery forces won the debates on economic grounds, but the sectional conflict of the state only reflected the rise of sectionalism throughout the country which precipitated the Civil War. (HTH)
Publication Type: Speeches/Meeting Papers; Information Analyses
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Speech Communication Association (66th, New York, NY, November 13-16, 1980).