A nation divided
Economy: Industrial and agricultural
The Northern and Southern states
differed in how they made a
living, also known as their
economy. The Northern states
had developed an industrialized
economy based on the making
and selling of goods.
Library of Congress
Therefore, textile mills, factories,
and industries were scattered
across the North.
These industries made products
from raw materials, called
manufactured goods would then
be taken to markets for sale.
The North liked tariffs, a tax on
foreign goods, because these
taxes would make imported goods more expensive, and people would buy
Northern-made items. The use of tariffs protected the factory owners and
workers from losing their jobs. To keep prices low, the North built roads,
canals, and railroads to transport the goods from place to place to sell.
The South's economy, how they made their living, was based on farming or
agriculture. Large farms, called plantations, used slave labor to harvest
abundant amounts of crops to sell. These were called cash crops and
included such things as tobacco, cotton, and rice. The South disliked tariffs
because most of their goods were bought from foreign countries and cost
more because of the taxes. Many plantation owners were also concerned that
England might stop buying cotton from the South if high tariffs were added to
the price. In the South, it was believed that "Cotton was King" because it was
sold in such large amounts.
The North and South made their money in very different ways and wished to
preserve their unique way of life. The Northern people saw progress in terms
of industry and transportation, while the Southerners wanted to maintain their
Antebellum system of slavery and plantations. The South did not care about
the technology which was changing the North, so they continued to put their
money into land and slaves, while Northerners invested in factories and
railroads. Therefore, manufacturing and industry continued in the North, while
farming went on in the South.
This contrast in the United States was also present in the state of Virginia.
The eastern counties of Virginia, close to the tidewater region, relied on
slavery and farming, while the western counties, closer to the Appalachian
Mountains, favored the abolition of slavery. The same differences facing the
country were also dividing the state. In 1863, these disagreements would lead
to West Virginia becoming its own state.
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