Key comparing the north and south

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The North and the South developed differently from each other in the first half of the 1800s. Geography was a principle reason northerners and southerners developed different ways of life. The north extends from Maine and south westward towards Iowa. All northern states experience four distinct seasons from frozen winters to hot humid summers. Different areas in the North had distinct natural features. The jagged New England coastline was perfect for use as harbors. The South extended from Maryland south to the tip of Florida and from the Atlantic Coast west to Louisiana and Texas. The southern states enjoyed mild winters and long hot humid summers, which allowed the South to have long growing seasons for their crops. Wide coastal plains edged the shorelines from the Chesapeake Bay to the Gulf of Mexico. Above the plains lie the Appalachian Mountains. Southerners used natural resources such as forests in North Carolina and fish, oysters, and crabs from the Chesapeake Bay to make a living, as well as the region’s fertile soil to grow crops. An important feature of the south was its broad rivers. Many of the South’s earliest towns were built at the mouth of rivers.

Compare and contrast the GEOGRAPHY of the North and South:

Climate – 4 seasons=frozen winters and hot summers

Location – Maine (N) to Iowa (W)

Features – Coastline, mountains, Great Lakes, harbors, forests,

Climate – mild winters and hot, humid summers

Location – Maryland (N) to Florida (S) to Texas (W)

Features – Coastline, App. Mountains, Chesapeake Bay, forests (NC), plains, fertile soil, rivers

In the North, the new inventions of the Industrial Revolution led to the development of mills and factories. Increasing numbers of people went to work as wage earners. New inventions and manufacturing methods made goods cheaper and plentiful. They also shifted work from skilled craftspeople to unskilled laborers. New immigrants flooding into the cities of the north led to an unlimited supply of labor, especially those entrenched in poverty. The South depended primarily on agriculture. Although a minority of white southerners owned slaves, much of the economy depended on slave labor to raise cash crops such as cotton.

Compare and contrast the ECONOMY of the North and South:

Business – mills and factories

Make money – manufactured goods and agriculture (not in the reading)

Labor force – wage earners/unskilled  many were immigrants

Business – agriculture/farms

Make money – growing cash crops like cotton

Labor forcemajority were slaves

Factory owners needed fast, inexpensive ways to deliver their goods to distant customers. South Carolina Congressman John C. Calhoun proposed a federally funded system of roads and canals. In 1806, Congress funded the construction of the National Road across the Appalachian Mountains. Even with better roads, river travel was faster and cheaper than travel by land. Steamboats helped to overcome the obstacle of traveling upstream against a river’s current. Because rivers weren’t always conveniently located, in 1817, the state of New York hired engineers and workers to build the Erie Canal. The 365-mile canal lowered the cost of shipping goods, brought prosperity to the towns along its route, and most importantly, helped to unite the entire country. Inspired by the success of steamboats, inventers developed steam-powered locomotives. Trains traveled faster than steamboats and they could go wherever tracks could be laid. In 1860, the South had 10,000 miles of rail compared to the North’s 20,000 miles. In the South, people and goods continued to move on rivers. Because river travel was the South’s main form of transportation, most southern towns and cities sprang up along water ways.

Compare and contrast TRANSPORTATION in the North and South:


Canals and roads (early)

Steam boats & steam locomotives

Railroads – 20K miles of track (1860)

All led to faster and cheaper travel, lower shipping costs, prosperity, and unity


Abundance of rivers  cities on rivers (New Orleans, St. Louis, Louisville, Mobile, Nashville, etc)

Steam boats & steam locomotives

Railroads – 10K miles of track (1860)

In the North, more people were moving to cities and towns. Between 1840 and 1860, the populations of New York (New York), Philadelphia (Pennsylvania), and Boston (Massachusetts) nearly tripled. By 1860, more than a million people crowded the streets of New York. People lived in unhealthy and unsafe conditions. In dirty and crowded neighborhoods, disease spread rapidly. Although African Americans were free, they were not treated equal to Whites. In most states, they could not vote, hold office, serve on juries, or attend White churches or schools. Southern society was divided into rank. A small group of wealthy plantation owners dominate the economy and politics of the South. The majority of Whites were owners of small farms or worked on others’ farms and one in four owned even one slave. A small minority of African Americans in the South were free Blacks. Most lived in towns and cities where they found jobs as skilled craftspeople, servants, or laborers. The vast majority of African Americans were slaves. Some worked as cooks, carpenters, blacksmiths, or house servants, but most were field hands.

Compare and contrast SOCIETY in the North and South:

Where – cities  unhealthy, unsafe, riddled with disease

Whomillions of immigrants; free blacks  were not equal


Majority of blacks were enslaved (90%)…free blacks lived in cities (too difficult to buy land and make connections)

Whites divided by rank: Wealthy  poor  then blacks

Majority of white owned small farms

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