Module 11 Discussion: The Slavery Debate

In this module, we have explored the Antebellum South with particular attention to the southern economy and the institution of slavery. Abolitionists routinely attacked the horrors of slavery, placing special emphasis on its impact on families. Defenders of slavery were no less committed to their cause. For this discussion, we will examine the arguments of both sides, as millions of Americans did in the antebellum period.


Step 1: Read the following primary sources.

Step 2: Review the following discussion prompts and select one for your response. Your initial post should contain 250-300 words, and provide evidence from the sources to support your position.

  • How does Fitzhugh justify slavery in the South? How would Douglass view Fitzhugh’s portrayal of southern slaveholders? In your opinion, to what point would Douglass most object?
  • Is Fitzhugh’s portrayal of an enslaved person’s life in accord with Douglass’s? Do Fitzhugh and Douglass have any common ground? How does Frederick Douglass’s life disprove Fitzhugh’s argument?

Step 3: After posting your initial response, review your classmates’ submissions and respond to at least two of them with substantive and constructive posts of 150-200 words. Your responses should add value to the discussion. “Nice job” or “I disagree” do not constitute substantive or constructive posts. You might wish to engage in a discussion with a classmate who responded to a different prompt than you or provided new insights. You might wish to follow up on a post with which you disagree. As always, courtesy and respect are required.

Assignment Grading Rubric:

Criteria Poor Good Excellent Points
Content The initial response lacks depth or demonstration of critical thinking. It contributes little to advance the discussion. The initial response provides some analysis, though shallow, and presents opinion without evidence. The initial response provides excellent analysis, supported by evidence, that thoroughly addresses the prompt and advances the discussion. ___/5
Etiquette and participation Provides brief responses or lacks appropriate number of responses. May lack appropriate display of courtesy. Provides appropriate number of responses that adhere in only the broadest sense to the topic. Initiates additional conversation with classmates and does so with courtesy. Subsequent posts display depth of analysis on par with expectations for initial post. ___/2
Mechanics Posts display extensive proofreading errors, which may include: spelling, grammar, sentence structure. Posts may be difficult to understand. Posts are generally correct grammatically, although with proofreading errors. They are understandable. Posts display excellent grammar. They are easily understood and lack anything but minimal errors. ___/3
Total ___/10