The United States exploded into war in 1861. Though the outcome of the Civil War cemented the Union causing dramatic change in the years leading up to the Civil War, the United States was in an Industrial Revolution. New land was opening up. The Transportation system was becoming better and better. America was in an era of fast growth.
Early in the nineteenth century, Americans were seeing new ways of making products with new inventions, which increased production, reform in education, equality for women, shooting for independence from much foreign trade. American artists, writers and musicians had made progress in their own distinct style. America was quickly becoming an industrial nation.
Many of the items we use today were invented in the early 1800’s leading up to the Civil War. Trains, telegraph and the first photograph were among the few inventions that brought the Nation together. The National union was seeing a balance between liberty and order. The Nation had a low National debt and the opening for progress was there for the taking.
The Nation had won their independence and now was the time to be self-sufficient and protect the manufacturers of America. Restrictions on imported goods like the English wool, Scottish bagging and the British and Swedish iron companies fostered the development of American industry. More roads and canals were developed to link ports and cities together and to open more frontier lands for settlement.
America wanted greater rights and opportunities for all citizens, the “dark-to-dark” workday changed to a 10-hour day and free tax-supported schools opened to all children. In the northern part of the country this became a common system but for other parts of the country, the battle for public education continued for years. The temperance movement along with the sale and use of alcohol reduced Americans’ per capita consumption of alcohol. The women’s right movement was in full swing. Women were fighting for the right to vote, better education, speaking in public places, birth control and divorce.
The “Western Expansion” or “Lands of Promise,” as it was sometimes called, was open to men and women who wanted more rich and fertile land for their crops. The coastal soil had become incapable of producing high yields of grain. The migration west in the 19th century led to the division of old territories and the drawing of new boundaries. As more and more settlers penetrated the wilderness, the original log cabins turned into comfortable log home with glass windows, chimneys and partitioned rooms. People no longer had to live by streams for water because wells were dug. They grew their own grain, vegetables and fruit, hunted for deer, wild turkeys and fished the nearby streams. Land speculators bought large tracts of land and sold them when values increased. Then they would purchase more land moving there way west. Soon to follow were the doctors, lawyers, storekeepers, preachers and editors. Homes then became brick or framed houses with large barns for livestock, flourmills, sawmills and distilleries were also built. More and more highways were laid and banks, schools and churches were also built. Overall, the growth of the Nation was enormous. The population had grown from 7.25 million to more than 23 million in 1852.
The national territory reached from the forests to the plains and mountains. The main manufacturing was finance and commerce, which came from New England and the Middle Atlantic states. The main products were lumber, textiles, clothing, machinery, woolen goods and leather. Ships flying the American flag cover the oceans selling the products that Americans made. Virginia, Maryland and North Carolina were importing tobacco with slave labor. Louisiana cultivated of sugar, which was a labor-intensive crop cultivated by slaves. By the 1830’s Louisiana was already supplying the nation with about half of its sugar. An abundant crop of rice was coming from South Carolina. But by 1850 the south was the dominant producer of cotton. 80 percent of the world’s cotton farming, which was also cultivated by slaves, was produced in the south. The cotton industry or “Cotton is King,” was stimulated by a new type of cotton and by Eli Whitney’s invention of the cotton gin, which separated the seeds from the cotton. By the time of the civil war, cotton accounted for almost 60% of American’s export with a value of nearly $300 million a year. With this revolution the textile manufacturing production greatly increased the demand for raw cotton.
The Midwest was the wheat producer. With the McCormick (a machine to cut and harvest grain) grain production greatly increased and the nations wheat crop swelled to nearly 61 million in 1860.
Railroads had spread rapidly before the Civil War, which connected many cities. The primary growth had been in the North. In 1850 the nation had only 9021 miles of railroads but by the end of 1860 had grown to 30,626 miles. By 1857 the Appalachian Mountains were pierced by five railway lines, which linked the Midwest and the Northeast establishing the economic interests that formed the basis for political alliance of the Union from 1861 to 1865.
With the industrial revolution moving at a fast pace in New England and the upper middle states. The northern and southern states were drawing further and further apart. The northerners were more in tune with the economy. The structure of society was changing. New Englanders had always been different from the southerners. Religion was very important including the study of the Bible and reading religious writings. Learning to read and write was of high value. Wealth was not shown openly. It was locked in bank vaults or kept in portfolios. Disputes were less often settled with guns and Northern men were less often to seek the pleasure of winning fights compared to the Southern “gentleman.” The Northerners began to see the South as an uncivilized and unchristian society.
The Southerners were self-sufficient “Men of means” that ruled over a large group of dependents. Their show of wealth wasn’t hidden. It was displayed in their great plantation homes and the amount of people they controlled. Duels were common and an immediate response if insulted by anyone. Southern gentlemen did not do physical labor. They did have chores such as taking care of business and giving instructions to overseers and foremen. Southern Gentlemen loved to be entertained and were masters who knew how to have complete control and respect from all who depended on them. The Northerners called the southerners sinful but the southerners call it sinfully good. Many southerners saw the unwillingness to stand up for a duel by Northerners as a weakness and therefore felt superior to those “softies from the north!”
The North and the South were developing into two very different regions which socially, economically and politically. This gradually drove them further and further apart. Each tried to impose their points of views on each other as a whole country.