Similarities and Differences between the North and South in the 1800s

Exclusively available on PapersOwl
Updated: Apr 30, 2024
Cite this
Date added
Pages:  7
Words:  2175
Order Original Essay

How it works


During the early to mid-1800s, there were a lot of documents recording the ideals and hardships of the time. They help give a first-hand glimpse of what people dealt with and what they thought about it. They also can help us contrast the major differences in not only ideology between the North and the South but also in their economy. Choices the South made greatly influenced their economy, just as choices the North made greatly affected their economy. There were also a lot of political and social differences in the South.

Need a custom essay on the same topic?
Give us your paper requirements, choose a writer and we’ll deliver the highest-quality essay!
Order now

The North was more urban and labeled as free states, while the South was more rural and known as slave states. Bleeding Kansas is an example of how the South would go to great lengths to keep slavery.


Economic Contrasts and Similaritie

In the South before the Civil War, Josiah Priest used his engravings to claim that Africans were better enslaved in America than to be free people in Africa. In one of his engravings, The Negro in His Own Country, Josiah Priest depicts an African in his home country in an “unclassy” manner at that time. He is seen with little clothing, which was seen as being poor, dirty, and primitive. He is outside with no buildings to be seen, which was also seen as having little wealth during this time period in America. The priest also tries to show Africa as being a dangerous place by having a spear in the Native’s hand and a skull by his feet. Hunting without guns also showed a lack of wealth. In another one of Priest’s engravings, Negro in America, he contrasts his previous engraving by showing an African’s life in America. He depicted their life in America as clean and civilized. They are with their slave owners, and they are polite and content with their life. Though false, it showed that Africans had a better life when they were enslaved in America than when they were free in Africa. The result of the Mexican War was more western land for the United States, as stated in the Old South vs. New South document. This document, written by Cloe Carson Hearon, states that since the US was at war with Mexico, the US would be acquiring more lands for new states. This new land from the Mexican War was considered the New South, and they wanted it to be a free state. However, the new state wanted to show deference to the Old South. They wanted to mimic their actions, so the new state became a slave state, even though they didn’t want to. They did it out of respect for their leader.

This new state was Mississippi, and they were following the lead of Virginia and South Carolina.This respect for the Old South led to even more spread of slavery. During the 1800s, trains became a big form of transportation, so a lot of railroads had to be built. Trains and railroads were much more plentiful in the North than they were in the South. The North invested in this form of transportation since they were more industrially advanced, and it was easier and much more efficient to transport goods by train. As seen by the Railroad poster document, travel by train was greatly advertised.The North’s abundance of railroads gave them a big advantage during the Civil War. Railroads made transporting things much more efficient, so the North just got information and goods around a lot quicker than the South could. Railroads replaced canals, the most well-known being the Erie. Canals were also efficient in transporting goods. However, even though railroads weren’t cheap to build, they were much cheaper to build than canals. The North had issues they faced also. The Fugitive Slave Law passed in the 1850s caused unnecessary problems that negatively affected slaves. In Boston, there was a Fugitive Slave Law poster, which acts as a primary document informing everyone that now, no matter how long a slave has held residency and freedom in the North, they can still be dragged back into slavery down South. Before this law was passed, slaves who had escaped to the North would be able to become a resident of the state they were living in after a few years, and they wouldn’t be taken back into slavery. This law just furthered the South deeper into slavery.

Political Divisions and Influences

Another issue the North faced was the fight for workers’ rights. The Working Man’s Declaration of Independence, written by George Henry Evans, promotes equal and safe rights for all workers. The conditions of the factories were wretched, and the people who were working there were being treated poorly and were oppressed to help the upper class and the government. The article states that all men are created equal and that everyone, including the working class, has the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Native Americans also developed differently between the North and South. Secondary documents written by Gregory Evans Dowd and ThedaPerdue show how the Native Americans were treated and affected by the development of America. These two contrasting documents show that no matter what approach Native Americans took to deal with the US, they still ended up getting the short end of the stick. In the document written by Dowd, he explains how the Shawnees (located in the Midwest) united with each other to defend their land from the Americans. They’d call on spirits to help them since they were very religious. Uprisings took place, including the most famous led by two brothers, Prophet and Tecumseh. While attempting to protect their land, they were forced to move West, which led to many Shawnee deaths. In Perdue’s document, he explains a different approach made by the Cherokees. The Cherokees took a peaceful approach in an attempt to save their land. They became civilized and tried to be like the Europeans. They learned English, converted to Christianity, and established court systems, laws, and police forces. They even started sending their children to school. Even though the Cherokees were civilized and did not pose a threat to Americans, they were still forced West. Their forced migration was called the Trail of Tears because it led to many deaths of children and the elderly. These two documents show that no matter what approach the Native Americans took, they were forced off of their homeland. Slavery in colonial America started with the Triangle Slave trade. People sailed to Africa and got Slaves.

They then traveled from Africa to the Caribbean by boat. This was known as the middle passage. The middle passage was the worst part of the trip for the slaves because they were all stuffed together in the bottom of the boat, making conditions very horrid and wretched. Once the boat got to the Caribbean, half of the slaves would be loaded off of the boat and were replaced by sugar. The rest of the slaves and the sugar would then travel the last part of the trip to New England. The slaves and the sugar would be replaced with rum, and the whole triangle slave trade process would start over again. In Virginia, the slaves were needed for their tobacco crops. They had indentured servants working on the crops, but it wasn’t working out too well, so the slaves took their place in tobacco crops. The slaves during this time were sometimes allowed to go to white churches in Virginia. In South Carolina, slaves were needed for the crops of indigo and rice, also known as ‘white gold.’ There was a rebellion amongst the slaves here. They tried to escape to the Spanish-governed Florida, which was Catholic, so they didn’t believe in slavery.

Impact of Transportation and Communication

This rebellion took place along the Stono River, hence the name, Stono Rebellion. Around the New England Area, the popular religious denomination was Puritanism. A defining characteristic of the Puritans is the idea of predestination, which is that a person’s fate is predetermined before they are born, and nothing they do in their life can change that. They used this ideology in regard to slavery. They thought if God was letting these people be slaves, then they were predetermined to go to hell, so they might as well be slaves in their natural lives. Down South, cotton was the biggest money-maker crop. It was hard to produce a lot of useable cotton in a short amount of time because cotton has a seed in the middle that is very hard to take out. The job of taking it out was usually done by slaves. To help slaves out and make their lives easier, Eli Whitney invented the cotton gin, which was a machine that quickly and easily took the seed out of cotton.

Native American Perspectives

Although his intentions were good, he made the slavery problem worse because the cotton gin made the production of cotton much more efficient. Plantations were able to grow a lot more cotton at a time, which required more slaves to take care of it. In 1808, Congress outlawed the importation of African slaves. Because of this, thousands of slaves were smuggled into the South. The people who were smuggling these slaves into the South were known as the Planter Class. They owned plantations and saw these slaves as investments for their property. Although the South was known for having African slaves, most of the population was white. Only about a quarter of the Southern population owned slaves. The rest were “free blacks”. However, even though they weren’t enslaved, they didn’t have the rights that white people had. The laws were different in each state, but most Southern states had similar laws. For example, in some states, only whites were allowed to vote. There were a lot of people who didn’t think slavery was right and tried to end it. These people were called abolitionists. There were many abolitionist movements that took place in the South. The North in this time period was much more mechanized than the South. This sudden industrial expansion of factories called for a lot of workers. The Irish began to settle in larger cities like New York. Many of the Irish had to work in the factories, especially textile mills. Even women started to work in the factories. The conditions in the factories were horrendous. They were barely paid anything.

However, they had to work long, labor-intensive hours. The people who worked in these factories were also known as “Wage Slaves.” With all of these factories, a lot of shipping products and traveling was required. So, different forms of transportation had to be acquired. The North was known for the massive building of roads. The most beneficial road that was developed was the Lancaster Turnpike. This was a sixty-two-mile-long highway that stretched from Philadelphia to Lancaster. Steamboats were used a lot, so there had to be canals built for the boats to travel on. The Erie Canal was one of the most notable canals. The biggest development that helped change the economy up North was the railroad. A state that struggled with the idea of unnecessarily becoming a slave state was Kansas. Just like in the comic Bleeding Kansas, Kansas was nicknamed Bleeding Kansas because people wanted Kansas to be a slave state. This wouldn’t make sense, though, because Kansas can’t grow cotton. The people who settled there knew that and wanted to be a free state. The South forced slavery in the mouth of Kansas, just like the slave being forced into the white man’s mouth in the comic. These documents show how the decision for new states to be free or slave was a big deal and played a large role in the development of our nation. Pro-slavery and anti-slavery abolitionists butt heads over whether or not Kansas should be a slave state. There were violent events that took place over this debate. The violent acts started with John Brown and his supporters, who killed five slavery supporters.


This event happened at Pottawatomie Creek, and it led to the outbreak of violent events surrounding the topic, thus coining the name Bleeding Kansas. John Brown is a recurring figure throughout this movement and is known for his violent conflicts and radical support against slavery. Bleeding Kansas was a very influential event leading to the Civil War. It ignited and brought to the surface many problems and divided the North and the South even more. Thus showing that the North and South developed a lot differently from each other socially, politically, and economically.


  1. “Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era” by James M. McPherson 

  2. “The Impending Crisis, 1848-1861” by David M. Potter

  3. “What Hath God Wrought: The Transformation of America, 1815-1848” by Daniel Walker Howe

  4. “North and South: A Social, Political, and Economic Study” by Charles J. Bullock

  5. “The Divided Family in Civil War America” by Amy Murrell Taylor

The deadline is too short to read someone else's essay
Hire a verified expert to write you a 100% Plagiarism-Free paper

Cite this page

Similarities and Differences Between the North and South in the 1800s. (2023, Aug 31). Retrieved from