For what reasons did industrialization NOT take off in the South?This is from my ap us history class, much of this chapter is about slavery and daily life for slaves in the south i think during the...

For what reasons did industrialization NOT take off in the South?

This is from my ap us history class, much of this chapter is about slavery and daily life for slaves in the south i think during the 19th century.

Asked on by lisanicole

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larrygates's profile pic

larrygates | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

The South, from its early settlement, had tied its economy to large scale production of staple crops; which by the 19th century was primarily cotton. The South had an extended growing season and fertile soil which lent itself to agriculture. The North, by contrast, had a short growing season, rocky soil, but more importantly had a large number of rivers and streams which could be used to operate factories. Industrialization never took off in the South because the people of the South saw no reason to industrialize. Their economy, though built on a thin foundation; appeared solid to them. The only manufacturing concern of any consequence in the South was the famous Tredegar Iron Works in Richmond, Virginia. It was this over-reliance on agriculture that doomed the South to lose the Civil War. 

pohnpei397's profile pic

pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

The major reason that industry did not take off in the South was slavery.  By the time that industry arose in the rest of the US, slavery was so entrenched in the South that industry could not take hold.

This is true for a number of reasons.

First, slaves are not that well suited to the type of work that characterizes factories.  Slaves would be too able to destroy expensive machinery "by mistake" as a way of resistance.

Second, much of the wealth of the South was tied up in slaves.  This wealth could not easily be liquidated in order to buy the sorts of expensive machines that would have been needed.

Third, the South had created its whole society around the image of country gentlemen who had their plantations and lived a rural lifestyle with horses and hunting and such.  This would have been ruined by a move to an industrial system.

So the main barrier between the South and industrialization was slavery.

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