Explain the factors that made the South distinct from the rest of the United States during the early nineteenth century.

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pholland14 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The South was distinct due to its significant class divides and rigid social stratification.  The region had slavery, and only the richest planters could afford many slaves.  The South had most of the millionaires in the country before the Civil War.  Some small farmers owned one or two slaves or rented slaves during the busy season, but they often had to work beside them.  Poor whites could not own land, because they lacked the means to buy it.  They also resented the slaves because slaves took away their jobs.  The South was also known for its monoculture of cotton; planters did not want to divert resources from this cash crop because it brought good prices in Europe and the northeastern United States.  

This social stratification meant that many people who had the means to do so left the South and moved north or west for greater opportunity.  The region did not experience many of the internal improvements of the rest of the nation because planters did not want to give up land or labor to make these improvements possible.  The region also did not experience the immigration boom of the nineteenth century because of the lack of opportunities.  While some regions did receive Irish immigrants as railroad workers, immigration in the South pales in comparison to Northern cities.