How did the Market Revolution contribute to the causes of the Civil War?

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jameadows eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The Market Revolution brought capitalism and industrialization to the North and West (what is today the Midwest), as finished products from the Northeast were shipped, via road, railroad, and canal, to other parts of the country. The North became a center of industry, and northerners were committed to a system of free labor. While some northerners opposed slavery on moral grounds, others opposed slavery because it prevented the growth of opportunities for free laborers. When new states were added to the Union, such as in the Missouri Compromise of 1820, the North wanted the new state to be free, while the South wanted to continue to add slave states to the Union. However, the South largely did not industrialize and remained agricultural and committed to a system of slave labor. These economic differences and tensions over the addition of new states contributed to the causes of the Civil War.

In addition, the Market Revolution tied the North to the Midwest, as canals, and later, railroads, were used to ship raw materials from the Midwest to the Northeast. The South, which largely lacked canals and railroads, became increasingly left out of this trade. Over time, the South also became more isolated socially because it was not part of the trade routes from one section of the country to the other. This isolation helped contribute to the tensions leading to the Civil War. 

mkoren eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The Market Revolution contributed to the causes of the Civil War. As more machines were used, the differences between the North and the South grew. In the South, the cotton gin made it much easier to grow and harvest cotton. This allowed cotton to become a leading southern export. It also increased the demand for slaves in the South. The South wanted to expand slavery to new territories that were being added to the country. The North didn’t want slavery to expand to these new territories. This led to many attempts to resolve the slavery issue that ultimately didn’t work, including the Compromise of 1850. The North resented the passage of the Fugitive Slave Act, which required northerners to help recapture slaves that escaped. The South wasn’t happy that California became a free state.

The North became more industrial as a result of the Market Revolution. Industries expanded in the North and eventually in the West. The North supported economic policies that favored businesses and wanted a higher protective tariff, which the South opposed. The South began to float the concept of secession over the tariff issue. This highlighted another difference between the North and the South. The South wanted the states to have more power, while the North believed the federal government should have more power than the states.

pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The Market Revolution did this in two main ways.

First, it made the North and the South more different in their economic systems.  The North came to have much more of a mixed capitalist economy that grew more and more different from the South's plantation economy.  

Second, the Market Revolution tied the North more closely to the West.  Transportation improvements allowed for east-west transport between the West and the North, tying those two regions together and cutting the old ties between West and South.  This made the South feel more isolated from the rest of the country.