Exploring Causes of the Civil War – Part IV – The Antebellum North
Continuing the series on the causes of the Civil War, this post looks at the Antebellum North.
The North evolved from its Puritan roots into a culture driven by a strong work ethic. A man was valued by what he could earn and accomplish. The capital of the north was invested in the engines of modernization. Labor moved from agriculture and artisan to factory as modern farming tools improved productivity. Individuals became more dependent on wages. Material wealth was seen as evidence of good, productive, hard work.
As the country expanded, northeastern populations migrated almost directly west. Foreign immigration increased. With modernization came an extensive transportation system including both impressive roadways and railroads.
New levels of wealth were attained by the leaders of the industrial revolution. A new poor working class emerged but so did a middle class that no longer had to produce large families to work the land. Urban centers developed particularly in the northeast.
Modernization drove social reform including the creation of public education systems in the North and associated high literacy rates. Enlightenment crusades flourished, touching literature and religion. Suffrage and temperance movements formed. Abolitionism became tied with humanitarian reforms driven by Christian crusades.
The North became more and more distinct from the South on many levels, not the least of which was its distaste for slavery. Even so, like white populations in most of western society, northerners considered blacks to be inferior in the antebellum North.
© 2007 L. Rene Tyree
Library of Congress [Watercolor by J. Maze Burbank, c. 1839
Old Dartmouth Historical Society-New Bedford Whaling Museum, New Bedford, Massachusetts
Gift of William F. Havemeyer (187) [Source: Library of Congress. http://www.loc.gov/exhibits/religion/f0703s.jpg]
Suffrage leader Elizabeth Cady Stanton and her daughter, Harriot–from a daguerreotype 1856. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA, REPRODUCTION NUMBER LC-USZ62-48965 DLC (b&w film copy neg.