Sectional Differences

By the 1820's it was clear that three major sections of the nation were developing. It was also clear that these sections were very different from each other in way of life and even in way of thinking. The larger the country grew, the greater the differences became.

The Northeast: The northeast was turning more and more to industry and factories in what was called the Industrial Revolution.     
    The Industrial Revolution was a time of changing how people worked and lived. Machines were taking the place of hand tools. Machines run by water and steam were taking the place of work animals and human muscle.
    Transportation and communication were becoming faster and cheaper all the time. Factories sprang up. New industries began operation.
    Textile factories, making cloth for clothing and other goods, grew rapidly in New England. By 1840 there were 700 cotton mills and 500 woolen mills in New England. More than fifty thousand people worked in these factories.
    Cities grew up around the factories. More and more people came to live in cities, although there were still many small farms around. .
    In 1822 a Congregational minister named Timothy Dwight traveled around New England. Here is some of what he had to say about the life of the people there:

    "It is easy to live comfortably in New England. Any man who wants to work the least bit can earn $125 to $250 a year. Such a man can easily buy himself a large farm in the new territories or a small one in New England. Even someone who does not want to work hard can earn enough to buy a small house and to live a comfortable life."

    Dwight pointed out that New Englanders in the large cities ate too much and drank too much. They spent much time in such sports as football (British rugby), cricket, and skating in the winter.
    Traveling for the purpose of visiting friends and neighbors was common. Music and dancing lessons were given to the children.

    The New England winters were hard. They were particularly hard for the farmers trying to make a living farming the hard, rocky soil.

    These New England farmers began to develop a certain way of life. It was a few­-words-said and fewer-dollars-spent way of living. That is, they did not enjoy talking a lot and they were careful how they spent their money.

The South: The south produced the cotton that was made into cloth in New England. Since the textile mills in New England were growing at a quick pace, more and more cotton was needed.
In 1793 an inventor, Eli Whitney, made it easy for the south to produce much more cotton. Whitney invented a machine called the cotton gin.
    Before Whitney's invention, it had taken a field hand one day to. take the seeds out of one pound of cotton. A hand-run cotton gin could remove the seeds from fifty pounds of cotton a day. A water-powered gin could clean a thousand pounds of cotton in a day.
    Black slaves, brought from Africa, had been working the land in the south since before the Revolutionary War. As the demand for cotton grew, more and more slaves were needed to plant, hoe, pick and gin the crops.
    It was profitable to use slaves to grow the cotton. The slave was bought and was never paid any wages.' All the owner had to give a slave was a small cabin, some food and a suit of clothing. Slaves could not quit. Their children became the property of their owner. In time of hardship they could be sold like any other piece of property. 
    The climate in the south was much like the climate in Africa. The slaves were used .to working in the hot southern sun.

    The lower south became a one-crop area. That crop was cotton. 
    Timothy Flint was a man who visited the plantations in Louisiana around 1820. Here is some of what he had to say:

    "The planters of the south are, for the most part, rich and very happy to take in travelers. Wherever I went I got some drink and a good meal.
    "These plantation owners live in big homes overlooking thousands of acres of cotton land. The fact that they are rich is due, I suppose, mostly to slavery.
    "In any case, they spend money more easily than any other group' I have seen on my travels around the United States. Most of their spare time is taken up with balls (dances) and parties.
    "The men dress handsomely, the women dress in the la test fashion. It is a life one could easily get used to."
    The life of the slaves on the southern plantations was not so pleasant, however. That life was hard, with long work hours and little time for rest.

The West: After the War of 1812 and the defeat of the Indians at Fallen Timbers, more people moved to the West.
Land was cheap and good for growing many crops. People came from many parts of the nation. From the south came poor whites who wanted land of their own. From the east came people who wanted a place away from the growing cities. From the northeast came people who wanted better land to farm. They came by the thousands.
    As the land became settled and the number of farms grew, small cities to support them also grew. The cities had stores, lumber mills, saloons, and everything else that went with "civilization".
    Life in the west was unlike that in the other sections of the country. People on outlying farms lived in rough cabins. Water had to be brought from streams or rivers. Heat came from open fireplaces.

    Even life in the larger cities of the west was unlike life in the cities of the east.
    Frances Trollope came to America in 1828. . She wrote unfavorably about what she saw in the river city of Cincinnati, Ohio:

     "This city has none of the things needed for good living. There is no way of getting water easily. The garbage from the city is placed in the middle of the street. Then the pigs of the city are set loose on it, and soon it is gone.
    "The men do nothing but talk of the price of goods and produce (fruits and vegetables). The women have nothing to do but look at each other to see what the other is wearing. "

A Changing Nation: America was changing. The population of the United States was no longer concentrated (the greatest, the heaviest) along the eastern seaboard. In fact, by 1824, one-third of America's population lived west of the Appalachian Mountains.
    As the three sections of the nation developed differently, so did the thinking of the people who lived in those sections. Many people began to give their loyalty to their section, rather than the United States as a whole.
    New Englanders thought of themselves as "Yankees", Southerners as just that, and people in the territories as Westerners.

Spotlight On “The Common Man's” President:  Feelings of sectional loyalty had an effect on the Presidential elections. The first six Presidents had come from either Massachusetts or Virginia. By the 1820's people in other parts of the nation wanted a President to come from one of their states.
The President who did that won the election of 1828. His name was Andrew Jackson.
    Jackson was a frontiersman and an Indian fighter. He was a hero of the War of 1812, where he had led the American troops in the ­Battle of New Orleans.

    Jackson was from Tennessee. He had served in Congress from that state. He was elected as the "common man's" President.

    People thought that Jackson was not a "high-class" type of President such as Washington, Jefferson and Adams. He was not very well educated and spoke like a man on the street.
    Jackson believed that all citizens had the right to hold office and to vote. Most westerners agreed with Jackson's view. The people of the west tended to be more "democratic," meaning that they thought of each other as equals. This attitude came from the fact that they all faced the same difficulties and dangers on the frontier.
The fact that he had little schooling led many people to think that he was stupid. But he was not. He had taught himself to read at an early age and was a successful lawyer and judge before becoming President.
    As an Indian fighter and a westerner, Jackson did not like Indians. He saw them as a threat to the westward movement of American settlers. He made thousands of Indians leave their homelands. He ruled that no Indians could live east of the Mississippi River. At that time the Mississippi was America's western boundary