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American society could be characterized by great diversity. It is preconditioned by the unique peculiarities of the development of various states, and even their belonging to different countries. The convergences in the perspectives on the evolution and development of states contributed to the increased number of differences between regions within the United States. Moreover, these very differences preconditioned the split of the United States into the Southern and Northern states characterized by their unique culture, mentality, and economies. The industrial North was opposed to the mainly agricultural South that benefited from the cultivation of cotton and its sale. This fact impacted the formation of culture and the rise of differences between various states.
Due to these peculiarities, “the South largely became a plantation society” (Oakes et al. 360) with all distinctive features that typify this very kind of a community. The cultivation of cotton demanded a number of workers who had to work in fields and other agricultural areas to bring extra benefits to them. Hence, only a minority of planters were slave owners, and it encouraged cooperation between this very group and other non-slaveholding southern whites (Oakes et al. 359). The further evolution of these features preconditioned the appearance of the unique culture that enriched US history and, at the same time, gave grounds for the Civil War between Southern and Northern states.
The introduction of a cotton gin was one of the most important events in the economy of the South. It provided new opportunities for the evolution and growth of the agricultural sector, along with the acquisition of great incomes. The great pace of the development of this industry contributed to the creation of the basis for the increased well-being of the land. At the same time, the agricultural character of the economy and the need for the tight cooperation between farmers, cotton producers, and workers established specific relations between them. No one could deny the fact that slavery was accepted in the South when Northern states gave rise to the movement of the abolishment of slavery and the acknowledgment of women’s rights (Fitzhugh par. 5).
In the second half of the 19h century, southern slaves performed a wide range of functions and different kinds of jobs. They worked in cities, factories, plantations, rural areas, etc., as cooks, artisans, nurses, housekeepers (Oakes et al. 296). However, the character of the South preconditioned the main sphere available for them which was fieldwork. Every planter needed strong hands to perform numerous tasks that were peculiar to the agricultural sector of that period of time.
It is obvious that slaves were not eager to work under the complicated and sometimes horrible conditions; however, these people had no choice as they “were defined as property, treated as property, and defended as property” (Oakes et al. 296). This approach to people and the attempts to preserve slavery could be considered the main distinctive feature between the South and the North of that era. The rise of slavery became the logical response to the evolution of the cotton industry and aggressive expansion of the South into the new cotton lands in the western regions (Oakes et al. 296).
The cotton boom of 1790 preconditioned the increased demand for slaves who had to work to guarantee stable incomes. While the North provided at least some freedom for people who had to work in numerous plants and factories, the South did not follow this pattern as they need in the cheap and obedient workforce was great and could be satisfied only by the exploration of slave labor. A cotton plantation owned by a single white family who had a number of enslaved laborers and an overwhelming power became the symbol of the southern states of that period of time.
That is why the South remained “a stronghold for the patriarchy” (Oakes et al. 364). It denied the values of the developed industrial world. Having unlimited control over the workforce and family, a plantation master tried to protect his world and cultivate traditional values. Southern women performed activities that were considered traditionally female (Oakes et al. 363). They sang, danced, and were taught the basic principles of etiquette.
Additionally, wealth and stable revenues that were guaranteed by cotton and slavery provided people with an opportunity to embrace the arts, elegant balls, horse riding, gambling, etc. All these aspects contributed to the creation of the romanticized image of the South that was different from that of the Northern states. As a result, the South was considered as the main bearer of traditional American values.
Altogether, the economy and culture of the South and North could be considered unique phenomena that were formed under the impact of the peculiarities of the evolution of these territories. The emphasis on cotton cultivation preconditioned significant alterations in the lifestyle and value system of people living in southern states. Rich and powerful planters were able to embrace numerous activities and educated their children in the way they liked. All these facts contributed to the appearance of significant divergence in the perspectives on the further evolution of the state. The South was not able to accept the ideas of the industrial North. As a result, the Civil war was inevitable, as there were too many disputable issues between the above-mentioned regions.
Oakes, James, Michael McGerr, Ellen Lewis, Nick Cullather, Jeanne Boydston, Mark Summers, Camilla Townsend and Karen Dunak. Of the People: A History of the United States, Volume 1: To 1877.Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015. Print.
Fitzhugh, George. The Universal Law of Slavery. n.d. Web.