How did sectionalism shape American history during the early to mid 1800's?

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lhc | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator

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Sectionalism was apparent in the United States as early as the Constitutional Convention, in the late 1700's, when the issue of slavery became a point of contention between representatives of the Northern and Southern states.  Cash crop farming for cotton, rice and tobacco were the primary source of income for most southerners and the invention of the cotton gin by Eli Whitney accelerated the dependence on/profits of cotton plantation owners exponentially.  Farming of these items was not as lucrative in the North due to the rocky soil, and the Industrial Revolution, facilitated by Samuel Slater's espionage of some of Britain's trade secrets, had taken the economy of the north in an entirely different direction.  By 1849, about twelve years before the beginning of the Civil War, there had been multiple attempts at legislative compromises, not to mention harsh words between Northern and Southern lawmakers, over the issues of slavery and states rights (further complicating matters was a growing abolitionist movement in the North, and people like Harriet Tubman who were actively helping slaves escape their Southern owners).

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