The Rise Of The Industrial System

If Jefferson could have lived to see the Stars and Stripes planted on

the Pacific Coast, the broad empire of Texas added to the planting

states, and the valley of the Willamette waving with wheat sown by

farmers from New England, he would have been more than fortified in his

faith that the future of America lay in agriculture. Even a stanch old

Federalist like Gouverneur Morris or Josiah Quincy would have mournfully

ceded both the prophecy and the claim. Manifest destiny never seemed

more clearly written in the stars.

As the farmers from the Northwest and planters from the Southwest poured

in upon the floor of Congress, the party of Jefferson, christened anew

by Jackson, grew stronger year by year. Opponents there were, no doubt,

disgruntled critics and Whigs by conviction; but in 1852 Franklin

Pierce, the Democratic candidate for President, carried every state in

the union except Massachusetts, Vermont, Kentucky, and Tennessee. This

victory, a triumph under ordinary circumstances, was all the more

significant in that Pierce was pitted against a hero of the Mexican War,

General Scott, whom the Whigs, hoping to win by rousing the martial

ardor of the voters, had nominated. On looking at the election returns,

the new President calmly assured the planters that "the general

principle of reduction of duties with a view to revenue may now be

regarded as the settled policy of the country." With equal confidence,

he waved aside those agitators who devoted themselves "to the supposed

interests of the relatively few Africans in the United States." Like a

watchman in the night he called to the country: "All's well."

The party of Hamilton and Clay lay in the dust.


As pride often goeth before a fall, so sanguine expectation is sometimes

the symbol of defeat. Jackson destroyed the bank. Polk signed the tariff

bill of 1846 striking an effective blow at the principle of protection

for manufactures. Pierce promised to silence the abolitionists. His

successor was to approve a drastic step in the direction of free trade.

Nevertheless all these things left untouched the springs of power that

were in due time to make America the greatest industrial nation on the

earth; namely, vast national resources, business enterprise, inventive

genius, and the free labor supply of Europe. Unseen by the thoughtless,

unrecorded in the diaries of wiseacres, rarely mentioned in the speeches

of statesmen, there was swiftly rising such a tide in the affairs of

America as Jefferson and Hamilton never dreamed of in their little


The Inventors

Watt and Boulton experimenting with steam in England,

Whitney combining wood and steel into a cotton gin, Fulton and Fitch

applying the steam engine to navigation, Stevens and Peter Cooper trying

out the "iron horse" on "iron highways," Slater building spinning mills

in Pawtucket, Howe attaching the needle to the flying wheel, Morse

spanning a continent with the telegraph, Cyrus Field linking the markets

of the new world with the old along the bed of the Atlantic, McCormick

breaking the sickle under the reaper--these men and a thousand more were

destroying in a mighty revolution of industry the world of the

stagecoach and the tallow candle which Washington and Franklin had

inherited little changed from the age of Caesar. Whitney was to make

cotton king. Watt and Fulton were to make steel and steam masters of the

world. Agriculture was to fall behind in the race for supremacy.

Industry Outstrips Planting

The story of invention, that tribute to

the triumph of mind over matter, fascinating as a romance, need not be

treated in detail here. The effects of invention on social and political

life, multitudinous and never-ending, form the very warp and woof of

American progress from the days of Andrew Jackson to the latest hour.

Neither the great civil conflict--the clash of two systems--nor the

problems of the modern age can be approached without an understanding of

the striking phases of industrialism.

First and foremost among them was the uprush of mills managed by

captains of industry and manned by labor drawn from farms, cities, and

foreign lands. For every planter who cleared a domain in the Southwest

and gathered his army of bondmen about him, there rose in the North a

magician of steam and steel who collected under his roof an army of free


In seven league boots this new giant strode ahead of the Southern giant.

Between 1850 and 1859, to use dollars and cents as the measure of

progress, the value of domestic manufactures including mines and

fisheries rose from $1,019,106,616 to $1,900,000,000, an increase of

eighty-six per cent in ten years. In this same period the total

production of naval stores, rice, sugar, tobacco, and cotton, the

staples of the South, went only from $165,000,000, in round figures, to

$204,000,000. At the halfway point of the century, the capital invested

in industry, commerce, and cities far exceeded the value of all the farm

land between the Atlantic and the Pacific; thus the course of economy

had been reversed in fifty years. Tested by figures of production, King

Cotton had shriveled by 1860 to a petty prince in comparison, for each

year the captains of industry turned out goods worth nearly twenty times

all the bales of cotton picked on Southern plantations. Iron, boots and

shoes, and leather goods pouring from Northern mills surpassed in value

the entire cotton output.

The Agrarian West Turns to Industry

Nor was this vast enterprise

confined to the old Northeast where, as Madison had sagely remarked,

commerce was early dominant. "Cincinnati," runs an official report in

1854, "appears to be a great central depot for ready-made clothing and

its manufacture for the Western markets may be said to be one of the

great trades of that city." There, wrote another traveler, "I heard the

crack of the cattle driver's whip and the hum of the factory: the West

and the East meeting." Louisville and St. Louis were already famous for

their clothing trades and the manufacture of cotton bagging. Five

hundred of the two thousand woolen mills in the country in 1860 were in

the Western states. Of the output of flour and grist mills, which almost

reached in value the cotton crop of 1850, the Ohio Valley furnished a

rapidly growing share. The old home of Jacksonian democracy, where

Federalists had been almost as scarce as monarchists, turned slowly

backward, as the needle to the pole, toward the principle of protection

for domestic industry, espoused by Hamilton and defended by Clay.

The Extension of Canals and Railways

As necessary to mechanical

industry as steel and steam power was the great market, spread over a

wide and diversified area and knit together by efficient means of

transportation. This service was supplied to industry by the steamship,

which began its career on the Hudson in 1807; by the canals, of which

the Erie opened in 1825 was the most noteworthy; and by the railways,

which came into practical operation about 1830.

With sure instinct the Eastern manufacturer reached out for the markets

of the Northwest territory where free farmers were producing annually

staggering crops of corn, wheat, bacon, and wool. The two great canal

systems--the Erie connecting New York City with the waterways of the

Great Lakes and the Pennsylvania chain linking Philadelphia with the

headwaters of the Ohio--gradually turned the tide of trade from New

Orleans to the Eastern seaboard. The railways followed the same paths.

By 1860, New York had rail connections with Chicago and St. Louis, one

of the routes running through the Hudson and Mohawk valleys and along

the Great Lakes, the other through Philadelphia and Pennsylvania and

across the rich wheat fields of Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois. Baltimore,

not to be outdone by her two rivals, reached out over the mountains for

the Western trade and in 1857 had trains running into St. Louis.

In railway enterprise the South took more interest than in canals, and

the friends of that section came to its aid. To offset the magnet

drawing trade away from the Mississippi Valley, lines were built from

the Gulf to Chicago, the Illinois Central part of the project being a

monument to the zeal and industry of a Democrat, better known in

politics than in business, Stephen A. Douglas. The swift movement of

cotton and tobacco to the North or to seaports was of common concern to

planters and manufacturers. Accordingly lines were flung down along the

Southern coast, linking Richmond, Charleston, and Savannah with the

Northern markets. Other lines struck inland from the coast, giving a

rail outlet to the sea for Raleigh, Columbia, Atlanta, Chattanooga,

Nashville, and Montgomery. Nevertheless, in spite of this enterprise,

the mileage of all the Southern states in 1860 did not equal that of

Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois combined.

Banking and Finance

Out of commerce and manufactures and the

construction and operation of railways came such an accumulation of

capital in the Northern states as merchants of old never imagined. The

banks of the four industrial states of Massachusetts, Connecticut, New

York, and Pennsylvania in 1860 had funds greater than the banks in all

the other states combined. New York City had become the money market of

America, the center to which industrial companies, railway promoters,

farmers, and planters turned for capital to initiate and carry on their

operations. The banks of Louisiana, South Carolina, Georgia, and

Virginia, it is true, had capital far in excess of the banks of the

Northwest; but still they were relatively small compared with the

financial institutions of the East.

The Growth of the Industrial Population

A revolution of such

magnitude in industry, transport, and finance, overturning as it did the

agrarian civilization of the old Northwest and reaching out to the very

borders of the country, could not fail to bring in its train

consequences of a striking character. Some were immediate and obvious.

Others require a fullness of time not yet reached to reveal their

complete significance. Outstanding among them was the growth of an

industrial population, detached from the land, concentrated in cities,

and, to use Jefferson's phrase, dependent upon "the caprices and

casualties of trade" for a livelihood. This was a result, as the great

Virginian had foreseen, which flowed inevitably from public and private

efforts to stimulate industry as against agriculture.

It was estimated in 1860, on the basis of the census figures, that

mechanical production gave employment to 1,100,000 men and 285,000

women, making, if the average number of dependents upon them be

reckoned, nearly six million people or about one-sixth of the population

of the country sustained from manufactures. "This," runs the official

record, "was exclusive of the number engaged in the production of many

of the raw materials and of the food for manufacturers; in the

distribution of their products, such as merchants, clerks, draymen,

mariners, the employees of railroads, expresses, and steamboats; of

capitalists, various artistic and professional classes, as well as

carpenters, bricklayers, painters, and the members of other mechanical

trades not classed as manufactures. It is safe to assume, then, that

one-third of the whole population is supported, directly, or indirectly,

by manufacturing industry." Taking, however, the number of persons

directly supported by manufactures, namely about six millions, reveals

the astounding fact that the white laboring population, divorced from

the soil, already exceeded the number of slaves on Southern farms and


Immigration.--The more carefully the rapid growth of the industrial

population is examined, the more surprising is the fact that such an

immense body of free laborers could be found, particularly when it is

recalled to what desperate straits the colonial leaders were put in

securing immigrants,--slavery, indentured servitude, and kidnapping

being the fruits of their necessities. The answer to the enigma is to be

found partly in European conditions and partly in the cheapness of

transportation after the opening of the era of steam navigation. Shrewd

observers of the course of events had long foreseen that a flood of

cheap labor was bound to come when the way was made easy. Some, among

them Chief Justice Ellsworth, went so far as to prophesy that white

labor would in time be so abundant that slavery would disappear as the

more costly of the two labor systems. The processes of nature were aided

by the policies of government in England and Germany.

The Coming of the Irish.--The opposition of the Irish people to the

English government, ever furious and irrepressible, was increased in the

mid forties by an almost total failure of the potato crop, the main

support of the peasants. Catholic in religion, they had been compelled

to support a Protestant church. Tillers of the soil by necessity, they

were forced to pay enormous tributes to absentee landlords in England

whose claim to their estates rested upon the title of conquest and

confiscation. Intensely loyal to their race, the Irish were subjected in

all things to the Parliament at London, in which their small minority of

representatives had little influence save in holding a balance of power

between the two contending English parties. To the constant political

irritation, the potato famine added physical distress beyond

description. In cottages and fields and along the highways the victims

of starvation lay dead by the hundreds, the relief which charity

afforded only bringing misery more sharply to the foreground. Those who

were fortunate enough to secure passage money sought escape to America.

In 1844 the total immigration into the United States was less than

eighty thousand; in 1850 it had risen by leaps and bounds to more than

three hundred thousand. Between 1820 and 1860 the immigrants from the

United Kingdom numbered 2,750,000, of whom more than one-half were

Irish. It has been said with a touch of exaggeration that the American

canals and railways of those days were built by the labor of Irishmen.

The German Migration.--To political discontent and economic distress,

such as was responsible for the coming of the Irish, may likewise be

traced the source of the Germanic migration. The potato blight that fell

upon Ireland visited the Rhine Valley and Southern Germany at the same

time with results as pitiful, if less extensive. The calamity inflicted

by nature was followed shortly by another inflicted by the despotic

conduct of German kings and princes. In 1848 there had occurred

throughout Europe a popular uprising in behalf of republics and

democratic government. For a time it rode on a full tide of success.

Kings were overthrown, or compelled to promise constitutional

government, and tyrannical ministers fled from their palaces. Then came

reaction. Those who had championed the popular cause were imprisoned,

shot, or driven out of the land. Men of attainments and distinction,

whose sole offense was opposition to the government of kings and

princes, sought an asylum in America, carrying with them to the land of

their adoption the spirit of liberty and democracy. In 1847 over fifty

thousand Germans came to America, the forerunners of a migration that

increased, almost steadily, for many years. The record of 1860 showed

that in the previous twenty years nearly a million and a half had found

homes in the United States. Far and wide they scattered, from the mills

and shops of the seacoast towns to the uttermost frontiers of Wisconsin

and Minnesota.

The Labor of Women and Children.--If the industries, canals, and

railways of the country were largely manned by foreign labor, still

important native sources must not be overlooked; above all, the women

and children of the New England textile districts. Spinning and weaving,

by a tradition that runs far beyond the written records of mankind,

belonged to women. Indeed it was the dexterous housewives, spinsters,

and boys and girls that laid the foundations of the textile industry in

America, foundations upon which the mechanical revolution was built. As

the wheel and loom were taken out of the homes to the factories operated

by water power or the steam engine, the women and, to use Hamilton's

phrase, "the children of tender years," followed as a matter of course.

"The cotton manufacture alone employs six thousand persons in Lowell,"

wrote a French observer in 1836; "of this number nearly five thousand

are young women from seventeen to twenty-four years of age, the

daughters of farmers from the different New England states." It was not

until after the middle of the century that foreign lands proved to be

the chief source from which workers were recruited for the factories of

New England. It was then that the daughters of the Puritans, outdone by

the competition of foreign labor, both of men and women, left the

spinning jenny and the loom to other hands.

The Rise of Organized Labor

The changing conditions of American

life, marked by the spreading mill towns of New England, New York, and

Pennsylvania and the growth of cities like Buffalo, Cincinnati,

Louisville, St. Louis, Detroit, and Chicago in the West, naturally

brought changes, as Jefferson had prophesied, in "manners and morals." A

few mechanics, smiths, carpenters, and masons, widely scattered through

farming regions and rural villages, raise no such problems as tens of

thousands of workers collected in one center in daily intercourse,

learning the power of cooeperation and union.

Even before the coming of steam and machinery, in the "good old days" of

handicrafts, laborers in many trades--printers, shoemakers, carpenters,

for example--had begun to draw together in the towns for the advancement

of their interests in the form of higher wages, shorter days, and

milder laws. The shoemakers of Philadelphia, organized in 1794,

conducted a strike in 1799 and held together until indicted seven years

later for conspiracy. During the twenties and thirties, local labor

unions sprang up in all industrial centers and they led almost

immediately to city federations of the several crafts.

As the thousands who were dependent upon their daily labor for their

livelihood mounted into the millions and industries spread across the

continent, the local unions of craftsmen grew into national craft

organizations bound together by the newspapers, the telegraph, and the

railways. Before 1860 there were several such national trade unions,

including the plumbers, printers, mule spinners, iron molders, and stone

cutters. All over the North labor leaders arose--men unknown to general

history but forceful and resourceful characters who forged links binding

scattered and individual workers into a common brotherhood. An attempt

was even made in 1834 to federate all the crafts into a permanent

national organization; but it perished within three years through lack

of support. Half a century had to elapse before the American Federation

of Labor was to accomplish this task.

All the manifestations of the modern labor movement had appeared, in

germ at least, by the time the mid-century was reached: unions, labor

leaders, strikes, a labor press, a labor political program, and a labor

political party. In every great city industrial disputes were a common

occurrence. The papers recorded about four hundred in two years,

1853-54, local affairs but forecasting economic struggles in a larger

field. The labor press seems to have begun with the founding of the

Mechanics' Free Press in Philadelphia in 1828 and the establishment of

the New York Workingman's Advocate shortly afterward. These

semi-political papers were in later years followed by regular trade

papers designed to weld together and advance the interests of particular

crafts. Edited by able leaders, these little sheets with limited

circulation wielded an enormous influence in the ranks of the workers.

Labor and Politics

As for the political program of labor, the main

planks were clear and specific: the abolition of imprisonment for debt,

manhood suffrage in states where property qualifications still

prevailed, free and universal education, laws protecting the safety and

health of workers in mills and factories, abolition of lotteries, repeal

of laws requiring militia service, and free land in the West.

Into the labor papers and platforms there sometimes crept a note of

hostility to the masters of industry, a sign of bitterness that excited

little alarm while cheap land in the West was open to the discontented.

The Philadelphia workmen, in issuing a call for a local convention,

invited "all those of our fellow citizens who live by their own labor

and none other." In Newcastle county, Delaware, the association of

working people complained in 1830: "The poor have no laws; the laws are

made by the rich and of course for the rich." Here and there an

extremist went to the length of advocating an equal division of wealth

among all the people--the crudest kind of communism.

Agitation of this character produced in labor circles profound distrust

of both Whigs and Democrats who talked principally about tariffs and

banks; it resulted in attempts to found independent labor parties. In

Philadelphia, Albany, New York City, and New England, labor candidates

were put up for elections in the early thirties and in a few cases were

victorious at the polls. "The balance of power has at length got into

the hands of the working people, where it properly belongs,"

triumphantly exclaimed the Mechanics' Free Press of Philadelphia in

1829. But the triumph was illusory. Dissensions appeared in the labor

ranks. The old party leaders, particularly of Tammany Hall, the

Democratic party organization in New York City, offered concessions to

labor in return for votes. Newspapers unsparingly denounced "trade union

politicians" as "demagogues," "levellers," and "rag, tag, and bobtail";

and some of them, deeming labor unrest the sour fruit of manhood

suffrage, suggested disfranchisement as a remedy. Under the influence

of concessions and attacks the political fever quickly died away, and

the end of the decade left no remnant of the labor political parties.

Labor leaders turned to a task which seemed more substantial and

practical, that of organizing workingmen into craft unions for the

definite purpose of raising wages and reducing hours.


Southern Plans for Union with the West

It was long the design of

Southern statesmen like Calhoun to hold the West and the South together

in one political party. The theory on which they based their hope was

simple. Both sections were agricultural--the producers of raw materials

and the buyers of manufactured goods. The planters were heavy purchasers

of Western bacon, pork, mules, and grain. The Mississippi River and its

tributaries formed the natural channel for the transportation of heavy

produce southward to the plantations and outward to Europe. Therefore,

ran their political reasoning, the interests of the two sections were

one. By standing together in favor of low tariffs, they could buy their

manufactures cheaply in Europe and pay for them in cotton, tobacco, and

grain. The union of the two sections under Jackson's management seemed


The East Forms Ties with the West

Eastern leaders were not blind to

the ambitions of Southern statesmen. On the contrary, they also

recognized the importance of forming strong ties with the agrarian West

and drawing the produce of the Ohio Valley to Philadelphia and New York.

The canals and railways were the physical signs of this economic union,

and the results, commercial and political, were soon evident. By the

middle of the century, Southern economists noted the change, one of

them, De Bow, lamenting that "the great cities of the North have

severally penetrated the interior with artificial lines until they have

taken from the open and untaxed current of the Mississippi the commerce

produced on its borders." To this writer it was an astounding thing to

behold "the number of steamers that now descend the upper Mississippi

River, loaded to the guards with produce, as far as the mouth of the

Illinois River and then turn up that stream with their cargoes to be

shipped to New York via Chicago. The Illinois canal has not only swept

the whole produce along the line of the Illinois River to the East, but

it is drawing the products of the upper Mississippi through the same

channel; thus depriving New Orleans and St. Louis of a rich portion of

their former trade."

If to any shippers the broad current of the great river sweeping down to

New Orleans offered easier means of physical communication to the sea

than the canals and railways, the difference could be overcome by the

credit which Eastern bankers were able to extend to the grain and

produce buyers, in the first instance, and through them to the farmers

on the soil. The acute Southern observer just quoted, De Bow, admitted

with evident regret, in 1852, that "last autumn, the rich regions of

Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois were flooded with the local bank notes of

the Eastern States, advanced by the New York houses on produce to be

shipped by way of the canals in the spring.... These moneyed facilities

enable the packer, miller, and speculator to hold on to their produce

until the opening of navigation in the spring and they are no longer

obliged, as formerly, to hurry off their shipments during the winter by

the way of New Orleans in order to realize funds by drafts on their

shipments. The banking facilities at the East are doing as much to draw

trade from us as the canals and railways which Eastern capital is

constructing." Thus canals, railways, and financial credit were swiftly

forging bonds of union between the old home of Jacksonian Democracy in

the West and the older home of Federalism in the East. The nationalism

to which Webster paid eloquent tribute became more and more real with

the passing of time. The self-sufficiency of the pioneer was broken down

as he began to watch the produce markets of New York and Philadelphia

where the prices of corn and hogs fixed his earnings for the year.

The West and Manufactures

In addition to the commercial bonds

between the East and the West there was growing up a common interest in

manufactures. As skilled white labor increased in the Ohio Valley, the

industries springing up in the new cities made Western life more like

that of the industrial East than like that of the planting South.

Moreover, the Western states produced some important raw materials for

American factories, which called for protection against foreign

competition, notably, wool, hemp, and flax. As the South had little or

no foreign competition in cotton and tobacco, the East could not offer

protection for her raw materials in exchange for protection for

industries. With the West, however, it became possible to establish

reciprocity in tariffs; that is, for example, to trade a high rate on

wool for a high rate on textiles or iron.

The South Dependent on the North

While East and West were drawing

together, the distinctions between North and South were becoming more

marked; the latter, having few industries and producing little save raw

materials, was being forced into the position of a dependent section. As

a result of the protective tariff, Southern planters were compelled to

turn more and more to Northern mills for their cloth, shoes, hats, hoes,

plows, and machinery. Nearly all the goods which they bought in Europe

in exchange for their produce came overseas to Northern ports, whence

transshipments were made by rail and water to Southern points of

distribution. Their rice, cotton, and tobacco, in as far as they were

not carried to Europe in British bottoms, were transported by Northern

masters. In these ways, a large part of the financial operations

connected with the sale of Southern produce and the purchase of goods in

exchange passed into the hands of Northern merchants and bankers who,

naturally, made profits from their transactions. Finally, Southern

planters who wanted to buy more land and more slaves on credit borrowed

heavily in the North where huge accumulations made the rates of interest

lower than the smaller banks of the South could afford.

The South Reckons the Cost of Economic Dependence

As Southern

dependence upon Northern capital became more and more marked, Southern

leaders began to chafe at what they regarded as restraints laid upon

their enterprise. In a word, they came to look upon the planter as a

tribute-bearer to the manufacturer and financier. "The South,"

expostulated De Bow, "stands in the attitude of feeding ... a vast

population of [Northern] merchants, shipowners, capitalists, and others

who, without claims on her progeny, drink up the life blood of her

trade.... Where goes the value of our labor but to those who, taking

advantage of our folly, ship for us, buy for us, sell to us, and, after

turning our own capital to their profitable account, return laden with

our money to enjoy their easily earned opulence at home."

Southern statisticians, not satisfied with generalities, attempted to

figure out how great was this tribute in dollars and cents. They

estimated that the planters annually lent to Northern merchants the full

value of their exports, a hundred millions or more, "to be used in the

manipulation of foreign imports." They calculated that no less than

forty millions all told had been paid to shipowners in profits. They

reckoned that, if the South were to work up her own cotton, she would

realize from seventy to one hundred millions a year that otherwise went

North. Finally, to cap the climax, they regretted that planters spent

some fifteen millions a year pleasure-seeking in the alluring cities and

summer resorts of the North.

Southern Opposition to Northern Policies

Proceeding from these

premises, Southern leaders drew the logical conclusion that the entire

program of economic measures demanded in the North was without exception

adverse to Southern interests and, by a similar chain of reasoning,

injurious to the corn and wheat producers of the West. Cheap labor

afforded by free immigration, a protective tariff raising prices of

manufactures for the tiller of the soil, ship subsidies increasing the

tonnage of carrying trade in Northern hands, internal improvements

forging new economic bonds between the East and the West, a national

banking system giving strict national control over the currency as a

safeguard against paper inflation--all these devices were regarded in

the South as contrary to the planting interest. They were constantly

compared with the restrictive measures by which Great Britain more than

half a century before had sought to bind American interests.

As oppression justified a war for independence once, statesmen argued,

so it can justify it again. "It is curious as it is melancholy and

distressing," came a broad hint from South Carolina, "to see how

striking is the analogy between the colonial vassalage to which the

manufacturing states have reduced the planting states and that which

formerly bound the Anglo-American colonies to the British empire....

England said to her American colonies: 'You shall not trade with the

rest of the world for such manufactures as are produced in the mother

country.' The manufacturing states say to their Southern colonies: 'You

shall not trade with the rest of the world for such manufactures as we

produce.'" The conclusion was inexorable: either the South must control

the national government and its economic measures, or it must declare,

as America had done four score years before, its political and economic

independence. As Northern mills multiplied, as railways spun their

mighty web over the face of the North, and as accumulated capital rose

into the hundreds of millions, the conviction of the planters and their

statesmen deepened into desperation.

Efforts to Start Southern Industries Fail

A few of them, seeing the

predominance of the North, made determined efforts to introduce

manufactures into the South. To the leaders who were averse to secession

and nullification this seemed the only remedy for the growing disparity

in the power of the two sections. Societies for the encouragement of

mechanical industries were formed, the investment of capital was sought,

and indeed a few mills were built on Southern soil. The results were

meager. The natural resources, coal and water power, were abundant; but

the enterprise for direction and the skilled labor were wanting. The

stream of European immigration flowed North and West, not South. The

Irish or German laborer, even if he finally made his home in a city, had

before him, while in the North, the alternative of a homestead on

Western land. To him slavery was a strange, if not a repelling,

institution. He did not take to it kindly nor care to fix his home where

it flourished. While slavery lasted, the economy of the South was

inevitably agricultural. While agriculture predominated, leadership with

equal necessity fell to the planting interest. While the planting

interest ruled, political opposition to Northern economy was destined to

grow in strength.

The Southern Theory of Sectionalism

In the opinion of the statesmen

who frankly represented the planting interest, the industrial system was

its deadly enemy. Their entire philosophy of American politics was

summed up in a single paragraph by McDuffie, a spokesman for South

Carolina: "Owing to the federative character of our government, the

great geographical extent of our territory, and the diversity of the

pursuits of our citizens in different parts of the union, it has so

happened that two great interests have sprung up, standing directly

opposed to each other. One of these consists of those manufactures which

the Northern and Middle states are capable of producing but which, owing

to the high price of labor and the high profits of capital in those

states, cannot hold competition with foreign manufactures without the

aid of bounties, directly or indirectly given, either by the general

government or by the state governments. The other of these interests

consists of the great agricultural staples of the Southern states which

can find a market only in foreign countries and which can be

advantageously sold only in exchange for foreign manufactures which come

in competition with those of the Northern and Middle states.... These

interests then stand diametrically and irreconcilably opposed to each

other. The interest, the pecuniary interest of the Northern

manufacturer, is directly promoted by every increase of the taxes

imposed upon Southern commerce; and it is unnecessary to add that the

interest of the Southern planter is promoted by every diminution of

taxes imposed upon the productions of their industry. If, under these

circumstances, the manufacturers were clothed with the power of imposing

taxes, at their pleasure, upon the foreign imports of the planter, no

doubt would exist in the mind of any man that it would have all the

characteristics of an absolute and unqualified despotism." The economic

soundness of this reasoning, a subject of interesting speculation for

the economist, is of little concern to the historian. The historical

point is that this opinion was widely held in the South and with the

progress of time became the prevailing doctrine of the planting


Their antagonism was deepened because they also became convinced, on

what grounds it is not necessary to inquire, that the leaders of the

industrial interest thus opposed to planting formed a consolidated

"aristocracy of wealth," bent upon the pursuit and attainment of

political power at Washington. "By the aid of various associated

interests," continued McDuffie, "the manufacturing capitalists have

obtained a complete and permanent control over the legislation of

Congress on this subject [the tariff].... Men confederated together upon

selfish and interested principles, whether in pursuit of the offices or

the bounties of the government, are ever more active and vigilant than

the great majority who act from disinterested and patriotic impulses.

Have we not witnessed it on this floor, sir? Who ever knew the tariff

men to divide on any question affecting their confederated interests?...

The watchword is, stick together, right or wrong upon every question

affecting the common cause. Such, sir, is the concert and vigilance and

such the combinations by which the manufacturing party, acting upon the

interests of some and the prejudices of others, have obtained a decided

and permanent control over public opinion in all the tariff states."

Thus, as the Southern statesman would have it, the North, in matters

affecting national policies, was ruled by a "confederated interest"

which menaced the planting interest. As the former grew in magnitude and

attached to itself the free farmers of the West through channels of

trade and credit, it followed as night the day that in time the planters

would be overshadowed and at length overborne in the struggle of giants.

Whether the theory was sound or not, Southern statesmen believed it and

acted upon it.