TheNorth and South Economies
Inthe period prior to the Civil war, it has been noted that theeconomic interests pertaining to individuals in the North andNorthwest became considerably different from those of individuals inthe South. As much as the Civil War may be credited to varyingaspects, the divergent paths that existed in the economic developmentof South and North made an immense contribution to the animositybetween the two regions, the Union’s victory, as well as theConfederacy’s development. However, questions have been askedregarding the causes of the variations. While there may be differing[opinions, it is evident that the incorporation of the industrialrevolution in the regions contributed to the divergence.
First,it is noted that there were variations in the magnitude ofmanufacturing that was taking place in the two regions. As much asfactories had been established in the two areas, a large proportionof industrial manufacturing occurred in the North. Indeed, the Southhad close to 25% of the free population but a meager 10% of theentire capital of the country in 1860 (Foner 421). Indeed, it isworth noting that the banks in the South did not exist so as to giveloans to manufacturers but rather to provide the same to farmers.This means that more farming was carried out than manufacturing. Thismay be contrasted with the North which had five times the South’sfactories and more than ten times the number of workers in thefactories. Further, 90% of the skilled workers in the country residedin the North. This caused the divergence of the economies.
Further,there was a considerable difference in the manner in which the tworegions viewed or perceived slavery. It is noted that, labor, in theNorth, was costly, with the workers being active and mobile. Inaddition, the influx of immigrants from Asia and Europe increasedcompetition in the labor market, thereby preventing the escalation ofthe wages. This may be contrasted with the Southern economy, whichwas established on the slave labor. It has been well acknowledgedthat the slaves were immensely oppressed into offering cheap labor.Slavery led this region down a completely different economicdevelopment path from that of the North, constricting the growth ofthe industry, inhibiting technological progress and discouraging theentry of immigrants into the region (Foner 420). It is no wonder thenthat the South never shared the urban growth that was seen in otherparts of the country.
Ofparticular note is the fact that the American Revolution was not leftout of the debate regarding the legality of slavery. Scholars haveunderlined the fact that white supremacists in the South opined thatthey were the American Revolution’s true heirs and stated that theydrew their inspiration from the same spirit of independence andfreedom that had motivated the country’s founding fathers (Foner427). Of particular note is the fact that their speeches had elementsof slavery and liberty and that outsiders would reduce them to slavesif they interfered with the local institutions, especially withregard to slavery. It is this disagreement regarding slavery in afree society that resulted in the conflict between the two regions.The American Revolution ideals inspired numerous struggles fornational independence and social equality although there was debateregarding the individuals who should enjoy liberty even after theattainment of independence (Foner 252).
Ofparticular note is that the differences were also inculcated in thenational politics as the two regions were represented by differentparties. It is noted that the Midwest, North and agrarian West wereunder the control of Republicans, which had immense support from theprotestant immigrants, Organizations of Union Veterans and the blacks(Foner 658). Democrats, on the other hand, dominated controlled theSouth and flourished among catholic voters particularly Irish –Americans (Foner 658).
Foner,Eric. GiveMe Liberty!: An American History.New York: W.W. Norton, 2006. Print.