How did the economic systems of the North and South become different in the early 1800’s?

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rrteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The economic systems of the North and South had been diverging for some time, but this process accelerated and became more pronounced as a result of the Industrial Revolution. Put simply, the North became more industrialized, and the South, especially the Deep South, became more dependent on the cultivation of cotton. This also meant that slavery became more entrenched in the South, and in fact expanded dramatically in terms of the numbers of enslaved people. Southerners with money increasingly invested it in land and slaves, both of which (as a general trend) became more expensive as time went on. Because the dominant industry in the North before the Civil War was textiles, the South's cotton economy and that of the North (as well as Great Britain) were bound together economically. However, the South chafed under some of the economic policies, particularly protective tariffs, that benefited the North rather than the planter class in the South. Additionally, Northerners became convinced that their economic system, based on free labor, was morally superior to that of the South. So the divergence of economic systems led to a divergence in politics and culture that would prove disastrous for the nation.