Why The North Won The Civil War
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Why The North Won The Civil War
The American antebellum South, though steeped in pride and raised in
military tradition, was to be no match for the burgeoning superiority of
the rapidly developing North in the coming Civil War. The lack of
emphasis on manufacturing and commercial interest, stemming from the
Southern desire to preserve their traditional agrarian society,
surrendered to the North their ability to function independently, much
less to wage war. It was neither Northern troops nor generals that won
the Civil War, rather Northern guns and industry.
From the onset of war, the Union had obvious advantages. Quite simply,
the North had large amounts of just about everything that the South did
not, boasting resources that the Confederacy had even no means of
attaining (See Appendices, Brinkley et al. 415). Sheer manpower ratios
were unbelievably one-sided, with only nine of the nation\'s 31 million
inhabitants residing in the seceding states (Angle 7). The Union also
had large amounts of land available for growing food crops which served
the dual purpose of providing food for its hungry soldiers and money for
its ever-growing industries. The South, on the other hand, devoted most
of what arable land it had exclusively to its main cash crop: cotton
(Catton, The Coming Fury 38). Raw materials were almost entirely
concentrated in Northern mines and refining industries. Railroads and
telegraph lines, the veritable lifelines of any army, traced paths all
across the Northern countryside but left the South isolated, outdated,
and starving (See Appendices). The final death knell for a modern South
developed in the form of economic colonialism. The Confederates were
all too willing to sell what little raw materials they possessed to
Northern Industry for any profit they could get. Little did they know,
"King Cotton" could buy them time, but not the war. The South had
bartered something that perhaps it had not intended: its independence
(Catton, Reflections 143).
The North\'s ever-growing industry was an important supplement to its
economical dominance of the South. Between the years of 1840 and 1860,
American industry saw sharp and steady growth. In 1840 the total value
of goods manufactured in the United States stood at $483 million,
increasing over fourfold by 1860 to just under $2 billion, with the
North taking the king\'s ransom (Brinkley et al. 312). The underlying
reason behind this dramatic expansion can be traced directly to the
American Industrial Revolution.
Beginning in the early 1800s, traces of the industrial revolution in
England began to bleed into several aspects of the American society.
One of the first industries to see quick development was the textile
industry, but, thanks to the British government, this development almost
never came to pass. Years earlier, England\'s James Watt had developed
the first successful steam engine. This invention, coupled with the
birth of James Hargreaves\' spinning jenny, completely revolutionized the
British textile industry, and eventually made it the most profitable in
the world ("Industrial Revolution"). The British government,
parsimonious with its newfound knowledge of machinery, attempted to
protect the nation\'s manufacturing preeminence by preventing the export
of textile machinery and even the emigration of skilled mechanics.
Despite valiant attempts at deterrence, though, many immigrants managed
to make their way into the United States with the advanced knowledge of
English technology, and they were anxious to acquaint America with the
new machines (Furnas 303).
And acquaint the Americans they did: more specifically, New England
Americans. It was people like Samuel Slater who can be credited with
beginning the revolution of the textile industry in America. A skilled
mechanic in England, Slater spent long hours studying the schematics for
the spinning jenny until finally he no longer needed them. He emigrated
to Pawtucket, Rhode Island, and there, together with a Quaker merchant
by the name of Moses Brown, he built a spinning jenny from memory
(Furnas 303). This meager mill would later become known as the first
modern factory in America. It would also become known as the point at
which the North began its economic domination of the Confederacy.
Although slow to accept change, The South was not entirely unaffected
by the onset of the Industrial Revolution. Another inventor by the name
of Eli Whitney set out in 1793 to revolutionize the Southern cotton
industry. Whitney was working as a tutor for a plantation owner in
Georgia (he was also, ironically, born and raised in New England) and
therefore knew the problems of harvesting cotton (Brinkley et al. 200).
Until then, the arduous task of separating the seeds from the cotton
before sale had been done chiefly by slave labor and was, consequently,
very inefficient. Whitney developed a machine which would
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Textile machinery, Industrial Revolution, Cellulose, Cotton, Crops, Eli Whitney, Textile industry, Spinning jenny, Spinning, Textile manufacture during the Industrial Revolution, Lancashire Cotton Famine
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