What were the major similarities and differences between the regional economies and cultures of the South and West during the late 19th Century?
The southern United States had developed its own culture far earlier than the 19th century; because of its agricultural development and accrual of large farms and plantations. There was no room for immigration and people in the south rarely moved away; therefore the culture remained largely homogeneous until the mid 20th century. Most southern families traced their heritage back several hundred years within the same state. The economy of the south was mixed agricultural and industrial; both tied largely to cotton and textile production. The textile industry in the south emerged shortly after reconstruction and was the backbone of southern industrial development until the late 20th century. Agricultural production centered on the production of cotton and tobacco, although production of feed corn and hogs was also an important element.
The West during the late 19th century was primarily agricultural; however its primary industrial production involved wheat and cereal grains as well as corn. With the invention of the mechanical reaper, large amounts of western land were cultivated. In some areas, livestock production also flourished, however it was largely the production of beef cattle. The latter industry was augmented by the completion of the transcontinental railroad which allowed speedy shipment of animals from western feedlots to slaughter houses in the east.