What were the differences between the Northern and Southern economy before the American Civil War? Analysis should be linked to Uncle Tom's Cabin book by Harriet B Stowe.

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

One of the primary differences between the Northern and Southern economy before the American Civil War was the presence of slavery.  Uncle Tom's Cabin focuses on this element, this difference between North and South.  Part of the reason why slavery is shown to be so cruel is that it degrades human beings as objects.  Simon Legree's cruelty to his slaves is reflective of this dehumanization. The opening of the book speaks about Tom as if he's an object to be traded for other goods:  

"I can't make trade that way- I positively can't."

"Why the fact is, Haley, Tom is an uncommon fellow, he is certainly worth that sum anywhere, -steady, honest, capable, manages my whole farm like a clock."

Stowe's point in this exchange is to reveal how the Southern economy is predicated upon slavery, the bartering of human beings for profit and trade. This is seen in stark contrast to the North, which is shown to generate income apart from the selling of human flesh.  For Stowe, the North is a domain where money can be made in a more honest manner than in the South, a culture whose economic presence is owed to the dehumanization of human beings. Stowe writes that "The most dreadful part of slavery, to my mind, is its outrages of feelings and affections—the separating of families, for example." The "peculiar institution" of slavery is such because it is based off the exploitation of human suffering.  In order for White owners to make money and generate profit, the degradation and dehumanization of slaves must be evident.  It is in this regard where I think that the statement about Northern and Southern economy is central to the novel's thesis.  For Stowe, any economy that is based off of the suffering of human beings in order for another to generate profit is a condition that has to be criticized, if not condemned in its entirety.

jose33 | Student

the different between South and North America was as follow.

1.all financial institution were in northern America like bank,thus the circulation of money was high compared with southern where was not having any financial institutionalization which created different in economic.

2.northern had many industrial base while southern had agricultural base,things which created big gab in economic,buy the way we alway see that industrial gain more profit that agricultural controller,from that northern gain raw material from southern in cheap price instead of southern buy goods from northern in high price,thus we can see the economic gap and different in it.

rachellopez | Student

Uncle Tom;s Cabin was written in the 1850's, which was the time period where slavery was a big issue. The book focuses a lot on the differences between the North and the South. The Southern economy was based on the slave trade. They were so dependent, in fact, that they issued the Fugitive Slave Act, which made it impossible for the slaves to flee North without being sent back. The South had rich soil which allowed them to build large plantations. 80% of laborers worked on farms.

The Northern economy flourished compared to the South's and was based on industry. They had a lot more natural resources which allowed them to build big cities. Slaves were no longer needed and most of the area was urban. Most Northerners looked into business, medicine, and education jobs.