Sectionalism Divides America
Sectionalism is the placing of the needs of one section over the needs of the whole nation.
The different sections at this time were the North and the South. The West was also a section but
This section (because it was new) did not practice sectionalism. Instead it was the other sections
that fought to control the destiny of the west.
What was the difference between the two sections? The North was primarily industrial
in nature and industry played major roles. While the North was not known for its agricultural
production it was the largest producer of grain. Life was faster and commerce was more
The South was primarily agricultural. The southern economy was primarily based upon
the existence of large family farms known as plantations. The plantation economy relied on
cheap labor in the form of slaves to produce tobacco and then cotton. The plantation lifestyle
produced a slower more leisurely lifestyle. Farmers on the plantation did not do the work
themselves. They were referred to as the "gentleman farmer." Work was done by slaves.
What issues created the sectional conflict? Slavery was first and foremost the most
important difference between the north and south. For the most part most northerners really
did not care about slavery in the beginning but as time went on slavery, the existence of it as well as the extension of slavery into the western territories, became a central issue.
Representation was another key issue that divided the north and south. Each wanted the
power to control the means of slavery. This meant that the more states that became "free" or
"slave" meant more votes, both in the House, Senate and Electoral College, for that section. The
issue of representation is played out as we expand westward and decisions must be made about
The South resented all tariffs as they relied on British imports for more of their everyday
goods. They also...