|United States Economy
The Industrial Revolution began in Europe in the late 18th and early
19th centuries, and it quickly spread to the United States. By 1860,
when Abraham Lincoln was elected president, 16 percent of the U.S.
population lived in urban areas, and a third of the nation's income came
from manufacturing. Urbanized industry was limited primarily to the
Northeast; cotton cloth production was the leading industry, with the
manufacture of shoes, woolen clothing, and machinery also expanding.
Many new workers were immigrants. Between 1845 and 1855, some 300,000
European immigrants arrived annually. Most were poor and remained in
eastern cities, often at ports of arrival.
The South, on the other hand, remained
rural and dependent on the North for capital and manufactured goods.
Southern economic interests, including slavery, could be protected by
political power only as long as the South controlled the federal
government. The Republican Party, organized in 1856, represented the
industrialized North. In 1860, Republicans and their presidential
candidate, Abraham Lincoln were speaking hesitantly on slavery, but they
were much clearer on economic policy. In 1861, they successfully pushed
adoption of a protective tariff. In 1862, the first Pacific railroad was
chartered. In 1863 and 1864, a national bank code was drafted.
Northern victory in the U.S. Civil War
(1861-1865), however, sealed the destiny of the nation and its economic
system. The slave-labor system was abolished, making the large southern
cotton plantations much less profitable. Northern industry, which had
expanded rapidly because of the demands of the war, surged ahead.
Industrialists came to dominate many aspects of the nation's life,
including social and political affairs. The planter aristocracy of the
South, portrayed sentimentally 70 years later in the film classic Gone
with the Wind, disappeared.
Source: U.S. Department of State