You would think that a society which takes up an institution as immoral and barbaric as slavery would benefit from it on the whole, but that is not the case with the American South. The only people who benefited from slavery were the top 3% of Southern society. For the rest of the people the institution of slavery would prevent them from gaining an education, proper literacy, wealth, and movement up the social ladder. If viewed as an independent nation the South was a socially stagnant aristocracy, extremely dependant on foreign trade , had fairly weak industry, and finally had a small population compared to the North. Perhaps the greatest tragedy was that all those confederate soldiers died for a cause that kept them poor. This is not all though, slavery itself was horrible, and even after slaves were given their legal freedom they were still slaves in nearly every aspect save for the title.
Literacy in the South was very poor compared to the North. The only Northern States that were surpassed by the South in terms of reading and writing were the states of Illinois and Indiana, and this was mainly due to an influx of illiterate foreigners, and immigrants from the slave states. The worst literacy rate in the South was in North Carolina, the ratio was 1 illiterate for every 7 white persons which is roughly a 14% illiteracy rate. In contrast the worst state in the North for literacy was Illinois at a 1:17 ratio or 6% illiteracy rate. These figures also take into account children so if you only count adults illiteracy increases particularly in the South..Finally if you look at the whole chart the slave states have the worst literacy rates in general.( Helper, 407)
There are vast differences in education between the North and South as well. The South had a total of 13,507 schools by 1850 compared to the North's 62,433 schools.(helper 288) The North also had about 4 times more students than the South. This can't be explained away with population differences due to the North only having 2 times as many white people in it than the South.(helper 144) . In conclusion education was much worse in the South than in the North.
Of the 6,184,477 whites in the South in 1859(Helper 144) there are about 186,551 slave holders (according to De Bow) which equates to a aristocratic elite of the top 3% of Southern Society.(Helper 148) This aristocracy could pay for the best schools, had their own private libraries, and extravagant houses: all possible from the sweat of their slaves, and the backs of the poor whites who were tenants of the slaveocrats and social outcasts as much as the slaves were(Hinton 151); yet because of slavery ,and its accompanying racial superiority, these poor whites still felt they were "better" than the blacks and thus did not rise up in rebellion. In truth "Many of the poorer whites were hardly better off economically than the slaves". (Bailey 366)
The South severely lacked in industrial capacity and...