In all history, no nation of mere agriculturists

” ever made successfulwar against a nation of mechanics. . . .You are bound to fail”
-Union officer William Tecumseh Sherman to a Southern friend.

The American antebellum South, though steeped in pride and
raised in military tradition, was to be no match for the burgeoning
superiority of the rapidly developing North in the coming Civil War.

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The lack of emphasis on manufacturing and commercial interest,
stemming from the Southern desire to preserve their traditional
agrarian society, surrendered to the North their ability to function
independently, much less to wage war. It was neither Northern troops
nor generals that won the Civil War, rather Northern guns and

From the onset of war, the Union had obvious advantages. Quite
simply, the North had large amounts of just about everything that the
South did not, boasting resources that the Confederacy had even no
means of attaining (See Appendices, Brinkley et al. 415). Sheer
manpower ratios were unbelievably one-sided, with only nine of the
nation’s 31 million inhabitants residing in the seceding states (Angle
7). The Union also had large amounts of land available for growing
food crops which served the dual purpose of providing food for its
hungry soldiers and money for its ever-growing industries. The South,
on the other hand, devoted most of what arable land it had exclusively
to its main cash crop: cotton (Catton, The Coming Fury 38). Raw
materials were almost entirely concentrated in Northern mines and
refining industries. Railroads and telegraph lines, the veritable
lifelines of any army, traced paths all across the Northern
countryside but left the South isolated, outdated, developed in the
form of economic colonialism. The Confederates were and starving (See
Appendices). The final death knell for a modern South all too willing
to sell what little raw materials they possessed to Northern Industry
for any profit they could get. Little did they know, “King Cotton”
could buy them time, but not the war. The South had bartered something
that perhaps it had not intended: its independence (Catton,
Reflections 143).

The North’s ever-growing industry was an important supplement
to its economical dominance of the South. Between the years of 1840
and 1860, American industry saw sharp and steady growth. In 1840 the
total value of goods manufactured in the United States stood at $483
million, increasing over fourfold by 1860 to just under $2 billion,
with the North taking the king’s ransom (Brinkley et al. 312). The
underlying reason behind this dramatic expansion can be traced
directly to the American Industrial Revolution.

Beginning in the early 1800s, traces of the industrial
revolution in England began to bleed into several aspects of the
American society. One of the first industries to see quick development
was the textile industry, but, thanks to the British government, this
development almost never came to pass. Years earlier, England’s James
Watt had developed the first successful steam engine. This invention,
coupled with the birth of James Hargreaves’ spinning jenny, completely
revolutionized the British textile industry, and eventually made it
the most profitable in the world (“Industrial Revolution”). The
British government, parsimonious with its newfound knowledge of
machinery, attempted to protect the nation’s manufacturing preeminence
by preventing the export of textile machinery and even the emigration
of skilled mechanics. Despite valiant attempts at deterrence, though,
many immigrants managed to make their way into the United States with
the advanced knowledge of English technology, and they were anxious
to acquaint America with the new machines (Furnas 303).

And acquaint the Americans they did: more specifically, New
England Americans. It was people like Samuel Slater who can be
credited with beginning the revolution of the textile industry in
America. A skilled mechanic in England, Slater spent long hours
studying the schematics for the spinning jenny until finally he no
longer needed them. He emigrated to Pawtucket, Rhode Island, and
there, together with a Quaker merchant by the name of Moses Brown, he
built a spinning jenny from memory (Furnas 303). This meager mill
would later become known as the first modern factory in America. It
would also become known as the point at which the North began its
economic domination of the Confederacy.

Although slow to accept change, The South was not entirely
unaffected by the onset of the Industrial Revolution. Another inventor
by the name of Eli Whitney set out in 1793 to revolutionize the
Southern cotton industry. Whitney was working as a tutor for a
plantation owner in Georgia (he was also, ironically, born and raised
in New England) and therefore knew the problems of harvesting cotton
(Brinkley et al. 200). Until then, the arduous task of separating


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