The Economic Differences Between the North and the South During the Civil War
The Civil War is marked as one of the most defining moments in United States history. The election of 1860 triggered the secession crisis, and although Lincoln and the victorious Republican party had promised not to interfere with slavery in the states where it already existed, they firmly opposed that slavery spread to any federal territories. Between December 1860 and February 1861, the seven Deep South states seceded to avoid what they perceived as a long-term threat to their slave holding interests. On April 12, 186 at Fort Sumter, the Confederate army, claiming the U.S as their own, opened fired starting what we know today as the American Civil War (McPherson). The two regions had major economic differences which within time resulted in a five-year battle labeled as one of the deadliest wars in history. However, as the war dragged on, the Unions advantages in factories, railroads and manpower put the Confederacy at great disadvantage (Civil War Facts).
The war itself began hesitantly, but after the Battle of Bull Run in Manassas, Virginia in July 1861, it was clear that warfare would last for many months, even years- which it eventually did. Huge battles raged in places like Virginia and Tennessee, where 40 percent of the 10,000 engagements of the war were fought.
In 1860, the South was still predominately agricultural, highly dependent upon the sale of the staples to a world market. By 1815, cotton was the most valuable export in the United States; and by 1840, it was worth more than all the other exports combined. But while the southern states produce two-thirds of the world’s supply of cotton, the South had little manufacturing capability, and held about 29% of the railroad tracks and only 13% of the nation’s banks (North and South). The fertile soil and warm climate of the South made it ideal for large scale farms and plantations to produce crops such as tobacco and cotton. As the number of plantations increased, agriculture became the way of life and few to none Southerners saw a need for any industrial development (Compare).
In contrast, the North was making its way towards a commercial and manufacturing economy which made a direct impact on its war making ability. The North had laid 30,000 miles of railroad track which made the transportation of goods extremely feasible and by 1860, 90 percent of the nation’s manufacturing output came from northern states. The North had produced 17 times more cotton and woolen textiles than the South, along with a higher mass production of leather goods, pig iron, and firearms. The North also had an extensive manufacturing system that included cannon foundries, federally funded armories as well as experimental laboratories. Per production of firearms, the North produced approximately 3,200 firearms to every 100 produced in the South (North and South). By 1860, with industrialization...