What was the impact of slavery on the economy of the South as well as its impact on Southern society and politics?
The agricultural rise of the South was heavily bolstered by the institution of slavery. Cotton, known in the pre-Civil War South as "King Cotton," was the primary resource grown and slave labor advanced the amount of production. In fact, the South produced nearly two thirds of the world's supply. Because of their drastic lag in manufacturing compared to the North, the South focused on agricultural advances and increased production to recoup. Throughout the Civil War, the southern economy declined rapidly as plantations fell into despair and most men were enlisted. However, it is important to note that not all slave labor dealt with agriculture. Many slaves had to work as carpenters, house servants, and blacksmiths—all of which contributed to the Southern economy.
Because of the rural and agrarian elements of the area, slavery was a staple of the Southern society. Plantations began to rise. Multiple families, enslaved and free, lived together on these large properties with many homes. Large parties and gatherings, served by slaves, were central to the way of life. With the drastic gains in wealth, mostly because of the free labor, many planter families were able to send their children to higher education in both the South and the North. This perpetuated an increase in the value Southern society with education.
As one would expect, political power would follow the increase in wealth and education. Family plantations became the centers of Southern voting blocs advocating for the continuation of their way of life. Prominent Southerners, including Andrew Jackson, rose to the very top of the political spectrum. The Jacksonian Democrats valued states' rights above all. The obvious reason for this was the protection of slavery, which the South had come to rely on. Without it, the vast amounts of wealth, which built the Southern society itself, would vanish and the Southern way of life altogether.