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Sectional Differences. Life in the South and Life in the North Leading up to the Civil War of 1861. The Southern Economy. The invention of the cotton gin made the South a one-crop economy and increased the need for slave labor

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Sectional differences

Sectional Differences

Life in the South and Life in the North Leading up to the Civil War of 1861

The southern economy
The Southern Economy

  • The invention of the cotton gin made the South a one-crop economy and increased the need for slave labor

  • Cotton gin: A machine that removes seeds from short-staple cotton (“gin” is short for engine- the cotton engine)

  • Could process more cotton with less man-power leading to higher profits for planters

  • Other crops were abandoned in favor of profit-yielding cotton

Industry progress the south
Industry, Progress & the South

  • South’s isolation prevented the it from modernizing and improving its standard of living to the degree that the North and West did.

  • Standard of living improved in all three regions, but the South lagged behind.

  • Northern manufacturers shipped most of their finished products to the West.

Southern society
Southern Society

  • North and West experienced dramatic social and economic change

  • South remained relatively unchanged between 1820 and 1860 because of the region’s reliance on cotton production

Southern social hierarchy
Southern Social Hierarchy

  • As the North became increasingly democratic, the South continued to adhere to the old, almost feudal social order

  • At the top were a select few, extremely wealthy, white plantation owners who controlled the southern legislatures and represented the South in Congress

  • Then came the farmers who owned one or two slaves

  • Then the poor and sometimes landless whites.

  • Black slaves were confined to the bottom of the social hierarchy.

The slave system
The Slave System

  • Africans had practiced slavery since ancient times

  • The Europeans obtained slaves from black Africans who continued to sell their war captives or trade them for rum, cloth, and other items, especially guns.

  • The slave trade was conducted for profit. The captains of slave ships therefore tried to deliver as many healthy slaves for as little cost as possible.

  • Loose Packing: Captains transported fewer slaves than their ships could carry in the hope of reducing sickness and death among them.

  • Tight packing: Captains believed that many blacks would die on the voyages anyway and so carried as many slaves as their ships could hold.


  • Although plantations were designed for work, they quickly became critical locations for the family and social life of enslaved people.

  • Africans landed from the slave ships were overwhelmingly alone. Some arrived on a plantation in the company of 'shipmates' or with Africans from their native region in Africa, but they did not come there as families.

Slave life
Slave Life

  • Some enslaved Africans brought with them beliefs not unlike that of Christianity, “As to religion, the natives believe that there is one Creator of all things, and that he lives in the sun, and is girded round with a belt, that he may never eat or drink…. They believe he governs events, especially deaths or captivity….”

  • “We practiced circumcision like the Jews, and made offerings and feats on that occasion in the same manner as they did. Like them also, our children were named from some event, some circumstance, or fancied foreboding at the time of their birth.…”

Slave life1
Slave Life

  • Beliefs gave slaves strength in the hostile world of plantation slavery

  • Just as the enslaved valued their own beliefs, so were those beliefs distrusted and feared by owners and colonial powers right across the Americas.


  • The most open form of resistance was revolt.

  • More common was the daily opposition that characterized plantation slavery everywhere: foot-dragging, feigning ignorance, being uncooperative.

  • On plantations as on the slave ships, violence was liberally doled out by planters and their managers to secure the obedience and the labor of their enslaved labor force.

Nat turner s rebellion
Nat Turner’s Rebellion

  • In 1831 a slave named Nat Turner led a rebellion in Southhampton County, Virginia.

  • Religious leader and Baptist minister

  • Turner and a group of followers killed sixty white men, women, and children on the night of August 21.

  • Turner and 16 of his conspirators were captured and executed, but the incident continued to haunt Southern whites.

  • Blacks were randomly killed all over SouthhamptonCounty

  • In the wake of the uprising planters tightened their grip on slaves and slavery.

The northern economy
The Northern Economy

  • US was still primarily agricultural in the years before, during and immediately after the Civil War.

  • About three-quarters of the population lived in rural areas, including farms and small towns.

  • Industrial Revolution that had hit England decades before gradually established itself in the "former colonies."

  • While factories were built all over the North and South, the vast majority of industrial manufacturing was taking place in the North.

  • The South had almost 25% of the country's free population, but only 10% of the country's capital in 1860.

  • The North had five times the number of factories as the South, and over ten times the number of factory workers.

  • 90% of the nation's skilled workers were in the North.

The north and reforms
The North and Reforms

  • Labor Strikes

  • Although wealthy business owners loved cheap wage labor, workers suffered, and few had any recourse to redress their grievances.

  • Collective bargaining was illegal, and factory owners could always hire replacement workers, or “scabs,” if employees refused to work.

  • Some workers, particularly women, risked prosecution and initiated a series of strikes in the 1820s and 1830s to improve working conditions.

  • Labor Unions and Reforms

  • Eventually, the government began to take action:

  • 1840, President Martin Van Buren succeeded in establishing a ten-hour working day for all federal employees engaged in public works projects;

  • 1842, the Massachusetts Supreme Court legalized trade unions in Commonwealth v. Hunt .

  • Nevertheless, it would be decades before unions gained any real power to bargain effectively.

The northern society
The Northern Society

  • A New National Culture

  • Between 1830 and 1850, Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau and poet Walt Whitman championed self-reliance, independence, and a fierce individuality that matched the character of the developing nation.

  • Poets John Greenleaf Whittier and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and novelist Louisa May Alcott also wrote about the new America

  • The so-called Dark Romantics, who included poet Edgar Allan Poe and novelists Herman Melville and Nathaniel Hawthorne, had a more critical view of American society in the years before the Civil War

The cult of domesticity
“The Cult of Domesticity”

  • Generally, women were shut out from the economic opportunities of the Market Revolution.

  • Through the antebellum years, many Americans continued to believe that men and women worked in separate spheres—men outside the home, and women inside. Often labeled the “Cult of Domesticity,” this social norm encouraged “good” women to be responsible not only for day-to-day housekeeping but also for making the home a happy and nurturing environment for their wage laborer husbands. Women were also expected to educate their children and provide moral guidance.


  • The abolitionist movement sought to eradicate slavery in the United States. Prominent leaders in the movement included Theodore Weld, Sojourner Truth, Frederick Douglass, Elijah P. Lovejoy, and William Lloyd Garrison, among others. Garrison, a radical abolitionist who called for immediate emancipation, became infamous when he started an antislavery newspaper,

Anti abolition in the north
Anti-Abolition in the North

  • Although the North was the hotbed of the abolitionist movement, not all northerners were abolitionists: many felt ambivalent toward emancipation or were downright against it. Trade unions and wage workers, for example, feared that if slavery were abolished, they would have to compete with free blacks for jobs (an argument also used by pro-slavery southerners).

John brown1
John Brown

  • Harboring a fury that was fueled by profound religious devotion, John Brown carried his hatred of slavery into action, creating a legacy of bloodshed and violence that remains at once inspiring and appalling to this day.

  • In 1855, Brown followed five of his sons to Kansas when they appealed to him for help in fighting off the Missouri "border ruffians" who were gathering there to force slavery on the citizens of the territory. Brown arrived with a wagonload of weapons and the conviction that all free-soil Kansans stood in mortal peril. In 1856, Brown felt compelled to take action. During the night of May 24, he led a group which methodically killed five pro-slavery settlers living along Pottawotomie Creek, dragging the men out of their cabins and butchering them with swords.

  • Brown had formulated an even more militant plan: he would incite a massive slave insurrection and thereby destroy the hated institution once and for all. To provide the funding for this ambitious undertaking, he turned to wealthy abolitionists who had grown frustrated by the failure of peaceful means and shared his view that it was time to wage war.