Slavery existed in the USA since the Seventeenth Century. Southern and Northern states disagreed about the role of slavery in society, which ultimately led to the civil war and the rise of the Republican Party in the 1850s.
Life in the Southern plantations was often terrible. The treatment of slaves could be very harsh.
slaves were not regarded as people but as property
some slaves were treated well by their owners but many were abused and treated badly
some worked in the homes of their owners but most worked outside in the fields cultivating crops like sugar, cotton and tobacco
Slaves picking cotton in the South
they were the property of the owner to do with as he wished. Slaves could be killed or raped
they worked long hours in the fields often in very high temperatures
accommodation was very basic. Simple wooden huts with earth floors
very harsh punishments: neck rings, beatings, amputation of feet if caught running away, tread mills
slaves could be sold away from their families
no leaving the plantations without a pass
basic food rations
In 1853 Harriet Beecher Stowe published the novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin. It clearly described how slaves were treated and many people in the North were shocked. Many joined or supported Abolitionist groups that tried to help runaway slaves and campaigned to abolish slavery.