This chapter surveys the policies, technologies, and attitudes that fostered the development of the North’s industrial economy and the South’s agricultural economy, and how those economies impacted national unity.
Section 1 discusses how United States nationalism increased significantly after the War of 1812. The War of 1812 taught Republicans the value of a strong federal government, and a new spirit of unity swept the nation. Republicans established a new national bank and passed a tariff that nurtured American industry. Three important Supreme Court decisions strengthened the power of the federal government over the states and shaped the future of American government. In a confident show of force against the Seminoles, the United States pressured Spain to sign a treaty ceding all of Florida. The treaty also finalized the western border of the Louisiana Purchase lands and the Texas territory. In foreign affairs, the United States issued the Monroe Doctrine to proclaim the Western Hemisphere closed to further European colonization.
Section 2 describes how revolutions in transportation and industry brought great changes to the northern United States. By the early 1800s, a transportation network of roads, canals, and railroads began to crisscross the country. New machines, such as the steamboat and the locomotive engine, stimulated commerce and travel, while the telegraph revolutionized communications. Factories sprang up throughout the Northeast, and the nature of manufacturing changed. No longer would Americans work in home-based workshops producing their own goods. Large factories employed thousands of workersmostly women, children, and immigrants to perform specific, often unskilled, tasks on large, complex machines. Industrialization led to the rise of large cities as thousands of people left farms and villages to seek higher-paying factory jobs in Northeast cities.
Section 3 explains how the agricultural economy deepened the South’s dependence on the institution of slavery. Eli Whitney’s invention of the cotton gin stimulated the Southern economy, and by the 1840s the South had crowned cotton its "king" crop. As the South’s economy grew more entrenched in agriculture, the demand for enslaved labor increased. A planter society developed in which a small group of wealthy planters was at the top of the class structure, and enslaved Africans at the bottom. Most enslaved African Americans spent their lives in bondage, laboring year after year in rice and cotton fields. While some free African Americans prospered in the cities of the upper South, their rights varied from state to state. Free African Americans in the North, where slavery had been outlawed, still suffered discrimination and had few opportunities. Enslaved African Americans developed their own culture and exercised resistance to cope with the horrors of enslavement.
Section 4 details how growing sectionalism splintered American unity. With different economies and opposing views on slavery, Northern and Southern leaders found it difficult to agree on national issues. Missouri’s application for statehood sparked a heated debate that was only quieted by a compromise. Leaders designed the Missouri Compromise to not only preserve the balance of power between free and slave states in the Senate, but to also draw the borders of slavery. The presidential election of 1824 revealed regional differences within the Republican Party. Among the four Republican "favorite sons," Andrew Jackson won the popular vote, but no candidate won a majority of the electoral votes. When the vote went before the House of Representatives, John Quincy Adams was elected president. Jackson’s supporters angrily protested the outcome and decided to form a new political party. Adams’s ambitious federal programs received little support in Congress, and by the election of 1828, Jackson’s supporters were ready to show the world a new kind of democracy.