The North and South
At the end of the 18th century, the Industrial Revolution came to America. Since the northern states lacked fertile soil and a warm climate, people naturally looked for other ways to make a living outside of farming. Ship building and fishing became major industries. By the early 1800s, merchants began building textile mills in New England. The North craved new technology to use toward advancing business interests. By the mid-1800s, the North had connected most major cities with canals and thousands of miles of railroad tracks, and had attracted millions of Irish and German immigrants to labor in factories. The northern states became the industrial powerhouse of the United States.
After the founding of Jamestown in 1607, settlers quickly learned the South's fertile soil and warm climate made it ideal for farming. For decades, tobacco, rice, and indigo remained the cash crops of the South. Unfortunately, as times changed, demand for these crops declined. The South began to question its agricultural base and the need for slavery. Then an inventor named Eli Whitney made some improvements to the cotton engine allowing seeds to be easily removed from the short staple cotton that grew well in the southern climate. Suddenly, cotton production skyrocketed at a time when the emerging textile industry in New England and Great Britain demanded more of the fiber for textile manufacturing. Now in the South, cotton was king and enslaved people provided the cheap labor for the most valuable commodity in the United States.