Argument Draft

The first data visualization is about the average age and appraisal between male and female slaves in eight southern states. Before we can truly understand the way the slave trade works, we must first understand the slave trade processes. The information given in the data set tells the story of how different information can correlate, but does not imply causation. According to Historian Herbert Gutman, “once every 3.5 minutes, 10 hours a day, 300 days a year, for 40 years, a human being was bought and sold in the antebellum South.” Most slaves were primarily sold to work and maintain their white master’s plantation. Other times when a master experienced a decrease in profits they would sell their best slaves to help with their economic struggles. It also did not help that as America began moving westward the opportunity to own land increased. As a result, a higher demand was placed on slaves, which encouraged the slave sale.

Based on the graph, there is a distinguished difference between male and female appraisal values. Whether a slave was sold into a big or a small plantation, a master’s goal was to acquire a slave who was able to work quickly, withstand gruesome hours, and carry heavy loads all for the sake of producing the most products. Most times male slaves were more appealing because of their physical ability to work on the fields which gave them an advantage over women. Even with a difference in gender value, both males and females shared a commonality when it came to average age. For example, if there were three males whose ages were 25, 15 and 35 and each had the same set of skills, the 25-year-old slave would be priced at a higher value. This meant that if a male or female slave were in their prime age (18-27) they would be priced at a higher value. However, some states show an average age of (4-12) which does not necessarily mean only children were sold, but a result from insufficient records. The masters as well as the slaves did not keep good records of their ages, some slaves’ names were barely acknowledged. This was a way for masters to keep their slaves oppressed, it was all about considering slaves as less than human beings and more about considering them as property. The better the master’s “property” the better the chances that he will make a greater profit.

The final aspect of the graph is the different states that divide each column. Out of the seven states, Georgia, Louisiana, and Mississippi are the three dominate states. From a geographical aspect these three states were located further south, where slavery was more prominent. The cotton gin invention could also explain why many plantations increased in size. For example, in Georgia the slave population by 1800 doubled to 59,699, and by 1810 the number of slaves had grown to 105,218 meaning that more slaves were being sold into the state. In Louisiana, by 1840 – 1860 Louisiana’s annual cotton crop rose from about 375,000 bales to about 800,000 bales. By 1860 Louisiana produced about one-sixth of all cotton grown in the United States, creating a higher demand for slaves to work the fields in this area. As for Mississippi, it was the state with the highest appraised value for both male and female slaves. This is due to the fact that by the first half of the 19th century, Mississippi was one of the top producers of cotton in the United States. As the white settlers’ population  increased so did the slave population and by 1859 Mississippi made a name for itself, producing over a million pounds of cotton.