North vs. South (1790–1860)
Many industrial, economic, and social differences existed
between the Northern and the Southern states in pre-Civil War
America. The North developed and utilized various tools and machines
(especially in the areas of agriculture, communication, and transportation)
that facilitated economic and industrial development and affected
the sociological makeup of their society. In this section you will identify
those tools and the changes they made possible in society, as well as
describe the resulting society.
The South developed a different kind of society that focused on agriculture
and the production of cotton. They used slaves to meet the demands
of this profitable trade. You will ultimately identify the general trends of
each region in preparation for understanding the events that occurred
before and during the Civil War.
1. Analyze how advents in technology (including advances in agriculture,
communication, and transportation) affected Northern
industry in pre-Civil War America.
2. List the various factors that led to economic changes in the North.
3. Identify the working conditions for groups of people laboring in
Northern cities (including unskilled laborers, artisans, women,
immigrants, and blacks).
4. Describe the mainstays of the Southern economy and which factors
contributed to the development of a slave culture.
5. Describe the social structure found in the South, particularly the
position of African Americans.
As you proceed through this lesson you will encounter journal entry
questions. These questions will all be listed together in Lesson 1 Portfolio
Assignment at the end of the lesson. You will complete this journal entry
according to the instructions found in the Portfolio Assignment as well
as the Journal Entries Submission Instructions found in the Journal
Entries module. I recommend that you begin writing down or typing up
your responses to these journal entry questions as you read through the
lesson. Your responses do not have to be long, just a paragraph, but do
make sure they completely answer the questions.
There are words and phrases that are critical for understanding
this lesson. Memorize words and their definitions from the course
91.1: Technology Advances
Identify and analyze how advents in technology (including advances in agriculture, communication, and transportation) affected Northern industry in pre-Civil War America.
Why do people invent new technology? Have those reasons changed in the modern period?
Different inventions began to flood the North in the eighteen hundreds. Many people invented machines or tools to simplify previously complicated or time-consuming processes. For example, Elias Howe invented the sewing machine in 1846, which was later improved by Isaac Singer. Clothing-makers could now make a bundle of shirts in the same time it took a tailor to sew one by hand.
Inventions became especially important to farmers and agricultural production. John Deere improved the iron plow by inventing a lightweight steel plow. Horses could pull this steel plow faster than oxen could pull the iron plows. In Chicago, Cyrus McCormick invented a horse-drawn machine that mowed different types of grain such as wheat, oats, and barley. This invention was called the mechanical reaper and could take the place of five workers using hand tools. All of these new machines helped farmers produce more goods while using fewer laborers. This forced thousands of farm workers to leave the countryside and either move west to start their own farms or find new jobs working in Northern factories.
Advances in Communication
Communication (especially over distances) was extremely difficult in the eighteen hundreds. Carriers delivered letters by horse or boat between parties, causing communication between friends or relatives to take weeks. Can you imagine your life without the Internet or text messaging?
HIST 43: United States History from 1851
In 1844 Samuel F. B. Morse publicly demonstrated a device called the
telegraph that sent electrical signals along a single wire. Although
telegraphs had been invented previously, they were impractical and used
up to twenty-six wires to send the electrical signals. Morse’s device sent
electrical pulses sent along a single wire to send a code of dashes, dots,
and spaces that represented letters of the alphabet. This was later known
as Morse code. In his demonstration, Morse sent a transmission from
the Supreme Court Chamber in Washington D.C., to Baltimore, Maryland,
that read, “What hath God wrought!” This new form of communication
was an instant success, and telegraph companies popped up everywhere.
People now had quick access to information and were able to communicate
without delay about supply needs, consumer demands, and prices
of different goods.
© BYU Independent Study
Figure 1.1. The Morse code alphabet was designed for the electromagnetic telegraph, which
was invented by Samuel Morse in the mid-eighteen hundreds. The telegraph relayed messages
along a single wire through a code of dashes, dots, and spaces (representative of different letters
of the alphabet). The rapidity of this new mode of communication revolutionized the industry
and opened new, more efficient means for communication, especially in business dealings.
Lesson 1: North vs. South, 1790–1860
Can you see how all of the above inventions made life easier, whether
it was sewing clothing at a faster rate or communicating with others using
For more information about the Morse Code access the following link:
The early eighteen hundreds brought about two new forms of transportation—
the locomotive and the steamboat. Both were refined during this time,
and both were powered by the steam engine. The expansion of agriculture
and industry created a demand for better and faster transportation to transport
goods to their intended markets. Although inventors had been working
on steam engines for many years, it was not until this time that the engines
became sophisticated enough to use in large-scale transportation.
In 1807 Robert Fulton successfully
proved the feasibility of a
steam-propelled boat. His steamboat’s
maiden voyage took place
on August 7, and the steamboat
traveled from New
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