Elite group of whites dominated the South society and made profits on the labor of slaves of African origin, who developed
a rich culture of their own. Slavery's hold on the South was strengthened by the increasing impotance of short-staple cotton.
During the nineteenth century, the center of cotton production shifted rapidly westward. A leading advocate of the need for
southern selt-sufficiency was J.D.B. DeBow. At the time of the Civil War, one quarter of white southerners owned slaves. The
yeoman farmer of the South was proud and self-reliant. Southern proslavery arguments did include the belief that slaver was
the natural status for blacks, sanctioned by the Bible, consistent with the humanitarian spirit, and eventually going to
become unnecessary. Southern apologists claimed the master-slave relationship was more humane than employer-worker relationships
bbecause it afforded greater long-term security. The conspiracy for slave rebellion incovered in South Carolina in 1822 was
led by Denmark Vesey. The foundation of the African American culture was religion. Free African Americans in the South were
actively involved in helping fugitive slaves.