The slave-owners were numerically a lean minority even in the South, but their mastery over their fellow-citizens was absolute. Nor was there any mystery about it. As the owners of four million slaves, on an average worth not far from five hundred dollars each, they formed the greatest industrial combination—what at this time we would call a trust—ever known to this or any other country. Our mighty Steel Corporation would have been a baby beside it. If to-day all our great financial companies were consolidated, the unit would scarcely come up to the dimensions of that one association. It was not incorporated in law, but its union was perfect. Bound together by a common interest and a common feeling, its members—in the highest sense co-partners in business and in politics, in peace and in war—were prepared to act together as one man.
But why, I again ask, were the Northern people so infatuated with slavery? They raised no cotton and they raised no negroes, but many of them, and especially their political leaders, carried their adulation almost to idolatry.
When Elijah P. Lovejoy was shot down like a dog, and William Lloyd Garrison was dragged half naked and half lifeless through the streets of Boston, and other outrages of like import were being perpetrated all over the North, it was carefully given out that those deeds were not the work of irresponsible rowdies, but of “gentlemen”—of merchants, manufacturers, and members of the professions. They claimed the credit for such achievements. There were reasons for such a state of things—some very solid, because financial.
The North and the South were extensively interlaced by mutual interests. With slave labor the Southern planters made cotton, and with the proceeds of their cotton they bought Northern machinery and merchandise. They sent their boys and girls to Northern schools. They came North themselves when their pockets were full, and freely spent their money at Northern hotels, Northern theatres, Northern race-tracks, and other Northern places of entertainment.
Then there were other ties than those of business. The great political parties had each a Southern wing. Religious denominations had their Southern members. Every kind of trade and calling had its Southern outlet.
But social connections were the strongest of all, and probably had most to do in making Northern sentiment. Southern gentlemen were popular in the North. They spent money lavishly. Their manners were grandiose. They talked boastfully of the number of their “niggers,” and told how they were accustomed to “wallop” them.
Then there were marriage ties between the sections. Many domestic alliances strengthened the bond between slavery and the aristocracy of the North.