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Sectionalism had its roots in the economic and social structures of the American colonies. It was certainly in full bloom at the Constitutional Convention, where South Carolina and Georgia threatened to walk out over possible restrictions on slavery. It intensified with the invention of the cotton gin and creation of new states like Alabama and Mississippi that identified politically with South Carolina. One thing I would point out, however, is that we tend to think of the Confederacy as always having identified with each other in the sectional disputes, and this really isn't so. Historians have identified multiple regions within the slave states- the Border South, the Upper South, and the Lower South, who certainly didn't always have the same interests. Virginians at the Constitutional Convention, for example, were heavily in favor of outlawing the external slave trade, (because they had a surplus of labor that they could sell on the internal slave market) while South Carolinians were not (they could get slaves cheaper from Africa than from the Upper South.)
We also have to look at the importance of the different social structures of the North and South. These were connected to slavery, but were not the same thing. The South was hierarchical and held to the aristocratic ideal in which power was held by a few "gentlemen" who were above everyone else. Life was, ideally at least, unhurried and highly cultured. The North was much more egalitarian and was also characterized by the "hustle and bustle" of a capitalistic society.
Many years ago I read the quote that stated something like "The seeds of the conflict between North and South were sown at Jamestown and Plymouth."
Right from the start, there were geographic and climate conditions that decided the where and how agriculture and industry would develop.
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