If paternal list owners as to assumed responsibility for their slaves, they also strove constantly to maintain and reinforce the utterly dependent status of those slaves. The accumulation of land and slaves was the prime motive, perhaps even the obsession, of nineteenth-century slaveholders, but it regards this as proof that they were a class of acquisitive entrepreneurs and capitalists, dominated by a metrolist ethos and dedicated to free-market commercialism. The intense pressures in southern white Society toward material success and the ownership of more and more slaves was regarded as the yardstick of that success. Genovese and Oaks are powerful and articulate recent protagonists in a debate which has continued for half a century or more about the nature of southern slave society.