The Differences between the Antebellum North and South

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The Differences between the Antebellum North and South by JAMES M. MCPHERSON
From James M. McPherson, “Antebellum Southern Exceptionalism: A New Look at an Old Question,” Civil
War History, Volume 29, #3, 1983, pp. 230—244. Copyright © 1983. Reprinted by permission of The Kent State University Press. The Differences between the Antebellum North ... - The American Story

Emphasis mine.

Southern culture is based on "emphasis on tradition, rural life, close kinship ties, a hierarchical social structure, ascribed status, patterns of deference, and masculine codes of honor and chivalry"
Northern culture is based on "impersonal, bureaucratic meritocratic, urbanizing, commercial, industrializing, mobile, and rootless characteristics. "

We should not fall into the one culture was better than the other, just because one won. Also, let's try to avoid the simplistic slavery argument and reserve that for other threads. The "masculine codes of honor and chivalry" IMHO explains a lot why the South unilaterally seceded both to cause and execution. Imagine living in a society reviled by another.

There is another dimension of the Potter thesis—-or perhaps it would be more accurate to call it a separate Potter thesis—that might put us on the right track to solving the puzzle of Southern exceptionalism. After challenging most notions of Southern distinctiveness, Potter concluded that the principal characteristic distinguishing the South from the rest of the country was the persistence of a folk culture” in the South. This gemeinschaft society, with its emphasis on tradition, rural life, close kinship ties, a hierarchical social structure, ascribed status, patterns of deference, and masculine codes of honor and chivalry, persisted in the South long after the North began moving toward a gesellschaft society with its impersonal, bureaucratic meritocratic, urbanizing, commercial, industrializing, mobile, and rootless characteristics. Above all, the South’s folk culture valued tradition and stability and felt threatened by change; the North’s modemizing culture enshrined change as progress and condemned the South as backward.
Gemeinschaft and Gesellschaft

Gemeinschaft (German pronunciation: [ɡəˈmaɪnʃaft]) and Gesellschaft ([ɡəˈzɛlʃaft]), generally translated as "community and society", are categories which were used by the German sociologist Ferdinand Tönnies in order to categorize social ties into two dichotomous sociological types which define each other. Max Weber, who is generally recognized as being a founding figure in sociology, also wrote extensively about the relationship between Gemeinschaft and Gesellschaft. Weber wrote in direct response to Tönnies.[1]
The Gemeinschaft–Gesellschaft dichotomy was proposed by Tönnies as a purely conceptual tool rather than as an ideal type in the way it was used by Max Weber to accentuate the key elements of a historic/social change. According to the dichotomy, social ties can be categorized, on one hand, as belonging to personal social interactions, and the roles, values, and beliefs based on such interactions (Gemeinschaft, German, commonly translated as "community"), or on the other hand as belonging to indirect interactions, impersonal roles, formal values, and beliefs based on such interactions (Gesellschaft, German, commonly translated as "society").[2]
A map of 2 cultures. The North was not highly industrialized but it was largely urban in 1860.
Reference
View attachment 233486
.
Source: United States Population Census, 1860.

Perhaps the best single indicator of how pervasive the “market revolution” was in the Northern and Western states is the rise of urban areas in areas where markets have become important. Map 1 plots the 292 counties that reported an “urban population” in 1860. (The 1860 Census Office defined an “urban place” as a town or city having a population of at least 2,500 people.) Table 2 presents some additional statistics on urbanization by region. In 1860 6.1 million people — roughly one out of five persons in the United States — lived in an urban county. A glance at either the map or Table 2 reveals the enormous difference in urban development in the South compared to the Northern states. More than two-thirds of all urban counties were in the Northeast and West; those two regions accounted for nearly 80 percent of the urban population of the country. By contrast, less than 7 percent of people in the 11 Southern states of Table 2 lived in urban counties.

View attachment 233487
Glad that you mentioned the South's folk culture as part of the thesis of
The Differences between the Antebellum North and South by JAMES M. MCPHERSON
From James M. McPherson, “Antebellum Southern Exceptionalism: A New Look at an Old Question,” Civil
War History, Volume 29, #3, 1983, pp. 230—244. Copyright © 1983. Reprinted by permission of The Kent State University Press. The Differences between the Antebellum North ... - The American Story

Emphasis mine.

Southern culture is based on "emphasis on tradition, rural life, close kinship ties, a hierarchical social structure, ascribed status, patterns of deference, and masculine codes of honor and chivalry"
Northern culture is based on "impersonal, bureaucratic meritocratic, urbanizing, commercial, industrializing, mobile, and rootless characteristics. "

We should not fall into the one culture was better than the other, just because one won. Also, let's try to avoid the simplistic slavery argument and reserve that for other threads. The "masculine codes of honor and chivalry" IMHO explains a lot why the South unilaterally seceded both to cause and execution. Imagine living in a society reviled by another.

There is another dimension of the Potter thesis—-or perhaps it would be more accurate to call it a separate Potter thesis—that might put us on the right track to solving the puzzle of Southern exceptionalism. After challenging most notions of Southern distinctiveness, Potter concluded that the principal characteristic distinguishing the South from the rest of the country was the persistence of a folk culture” in the South. This gemeinschaft society, with its emphasis on tradition, rural life, close kinship ties, a hierarchical social structure, ascribed status, patterns of deference, and masculine codes of honor and chivalry, persisted in the South long after the North began moving toward a gesellschaft society with its impersonal, bureaucratic meritocratic, urbanizing, commercial, industrializing, mobile, and rootless characteristics. Above all, the South’s folk culture valued tradition and stability and felt threatened by change; the North’s modemizing culture enshrined change as progress and condemned the South as backward.
Gemeinschaft and Gesellschaft

Gemeinschaft (German pronunciation: [ɡəˈmaɪnʃaft]) and Gesellschaft ([ɡəˈzɛlʃaft]), generally translated as "community and society", are categories which were used by the German sociologist Ferdinand Tönnies in order to categorize social ties into two dichotomous sociological types which define each other. Max Weber, who is generally recognized as being a founding figure in sociology, also wrote extensively about the relationship between Gemeinschaft and Gesellschaft. Weber wrote in direct response to Tönnies.[1]
The Gemeinschaft–Gesellschaft dichotomy was proposed by Tönnies as a purely conceptual tool rather than as an ideal type in the way it was used by Max Weber to accentuate the key elements of a historic/social change. According to the dichotomy, social ties can be categorized, on one hand, as belonging to personal social interactions, and the roles, values, and beliefs based on such interactions (Gemeinschaft, German, commonly translated as "community"), or on the other hand as belonging to indirect interactions, impersonal roles, formal values, and beliefs based on such interactions (Gesellschaft, German, commonly translated as "society").[2]
A map of 2 cultures. The North was not highly industrialized but it was largely urban in 1860.
Reference
View attachment 233486
.
Source: United States Population Census, 1860.

Perhaps the best single indicator of how pervasive the “market revolution” was in the Northern and Western states is the rise of urban areas in areas where markets have become important. Map 1 plots the 292 counties that reported an “urban population” in 1860. (The 1860 Census Office defined an “urban place” as a town or city having a population of at least 2,500 people.) Table 2 presents some additional statistics on urbanization by region. In 1860 6.1 million people — roughly one out of five persons in the United States — lived in an urban county. A glance at either the map or Table 2 reveals the enormous difference in urban development in the South compared to the Northern states. More than two-thirds of all urban counties were in the Northeast and West; those two regions accounted for nearly 80 percent of the urban population of the country. By contrast, less than 7 percent of people in the 11 Southern states of Table 2 lived in urban counties.

View attachment 233487
So glad you mentioned the South's folk culture. This theme is discussed in the book "The Confederate Nation 1861 - 1865" by Emory M. Thomas. I think during this period that many people, both North and South, were much more provincial in their thoughts and beliefs. There was no internet or news coverage at the flick of a television remote control. Thus, the free exchange of ideas was much more limited than today. While I have not seen any statistics, I would venture to say that many citizens of the country during the pre-Civil War period had not ventured far from outside the borders of their own state.

I like this quote from the Thomas book - "The essential fact of the Confederate experience was that a sufficient number of white Southerner Americans felt more Southern than American or, perhaps more accurately, that they were orthodox Americans and Northerners were apostates. Southern sectionalism became Southern nationalism and underwent trial by war."
 

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wilber6150

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IMHO the best evidence is that while a man might not die for slavery, he would for his civilization, his society and all that represents. We also have the testimony of a Brit, William Howard Russell, a Southern lawyer/preacher and a Nothern preacher. 3 Politicians, 2 preachers, and a Britt. I spent a bunch of time chasing down references to primary sources, the footnotes are mine. Anyone that wants to post quotes with references on the OP is welcome.
That's a really interesting thought, though not fighting for slavery he was fighting for the society he existed in ....
 
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Neither white population was very diverse up until 1790. Not that many people came over from England and survived. The northern populations had been hit hard by small pox. In the south, insect borne diseases were more of a problem, plus the summer climate was not well tolerated. Since the southern six states had so many slaves, they were much more racially divided from the start. Race was a constant issue in those states. However as long as Virginia, Maryland and Delaware held the middle, there was substantial comity as both sections needed Virginia to survive. Slavery in those three middle states was an evolving institution, and more slaves from Africa and the Caribbean were not needed or wanted. Under those conditions there could have been more mixing, dispersion, and steady Romanization of the status of the slaves.
But because the working class was enslaved in the south, the white population was even more ethnically dense in the south.
 
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The problem became aggravated between 1790-1820. The northern population recovered rapidly. The poor people in the south drifted west and north, trying to keep their low density life style going. That produced a sorted population in the south, that was very homogeneous, while the Midwest began to mix it up.
 
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The Erie Canal, the resumption of immigration almost all directed at the north, caused a deep political break between the sections. Railroads accelerated the change. The northern people had serious ethnic divisions and xenophobic instincts, but without a racial barrier the human tendency to mix was unstoppable. The same sort of people were facing different conditions.
 
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As @jgoodguy points out, the big money, and the speed at rich it could be earned, created the cotton fever, which made the cotton growers and slave brokers rich. That created a special interest which wanted to feed those regional differences. Under those conditions, the Virginians, and their descendants in Kentucky and the Midwest, lost authority. Once the slavery tolerant Whig party dissolved, the chances for sustained peace were very small.
 
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I think there was substantial sorting of the Southern population during the 1820-1861 period. People who were enthusiastic about slavery stayed put, or moved to Louisiana and Texas and grew cotton. People who did not like the cotton business, or did only as a side job, moved across the Ohio, or out west to California and Oregon. That made the sectional differences very sharp. But the Midwest populations were very unenthusiastic about civil rights for the freedmen after the Civil War. They may have been Yankees, but they were still racists.
 
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That leads to the speculation that the northern people, both the financial interests and the common people, were afraid of the secessionists. There was too large a chance for the Confederacy to succeed at least temporarily, leading to a truly large and risky war.
 

jgoodguy

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That's a really interesting thought, though not fighting for slavery he was fighting for the society he existed in ....
IMHO hardwired for humans. Fight for the tribe, city-state or nation. We could say that Union soldiers fought for a capitalist society.

Nationalism is identification with one's own nation and support for its interests, especially to the exclusion or detriment of the interests of other nations. At the highest level of viewing the Civil War that is what both sides fought for. IMHO We now identify with the winners after 6 or so generations so completely that it is difficult to identify with the losers.
 

jgoodguy

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As @jgoodguy points out, the big money, and the speed at rich it could be earned, created the cotton fever, which made the cotton growers and slave brokers rich. That created a special interest which wanted to feed those regional differences. Under those conditions, the Virginians, and their descendants in Kentucky and the Midwest, lost authority. Once the slavery tolerant Whig party dissolved, the chances for sustained peace were very small.
The party system of Whigs and Democrats broke down unable to contain the sectional differences.
 

jgoodguy

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Glad that you mentioned the South's folk culture as part of the thesis of

So glad you mentioned the South's folk culture. This theme is discussed in the book "The Confederate Nation 1861 - 1865" by Emory M. Thomas. I think during this period that many people, both North and South, were much more provincial in their thoughts and beliefs. There was no internet or news coverage at the flick of a television remote control. Thus, the free exchange of ideas was much more limited than today. While I have not seen any statistics, I would venture to say that many citizens of the country during the pre-Civil War period had not ventured far from outside the borders of their own state.

I like this quote from the Thomas book - "The essential fact of the Confederate experience was that a sufficient number of white Southerner Americans felt more Southern than American or, perhaps more accurately, that they were orthodox Americans and Northerners were apostates. Southern sectionalism became Southern nationalism and underwent trial by war."
Good points. I like the quote also.
A good case can be made that the South did not change from the founding of the Constitutional Republic, but the North did.
 

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IMHO hardwired for humans. Fight for the tribe, city-state or nation. We could say that Union soldiers fought for a capitalist society.

Nationalism is identification with one's own nation and support for its interests, especially to the exclusion or detriment of the interests of other nations. At the highest level of viewing the Civil War that is what both sides fought for. IMHO We now identify with the winners after 6 or so generations so completely that it is difficult to identify with the losers.
I don' know that either the winners or losers identify that well.
 

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The North Invented Jim Crow! 2 percent Black by the Civil War? A Natural Klan Meeting.

As far as Aristocrats, The Idea of Free Labor, that of the small farmer and a society of upwardly mobile artisians was gone before the War was over. Just look at how the Republicans used Coolies and Poor Immigrants, to build their Railroad, anything but Free Labor. Also by the 1880s, Republicans traded away the small farmer and artisans for the Eastern Business Class. Top Down Economics with the investment into big business, endless Protective Tariffs, creating generations of income inequality which spurred on the Boom and Bust cycles. Decimated the poorer classes. Lincoln would of been Disappointed. The North Easts Aristocrats made Planters look like Beggars.
 
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IMHO hardwired for humans. Fight for the tribe, city-state or nation. We could say that Union soldiers fought for a capitalist society.

Nationalism is identification with one's own nation and support for its interests, especially to the exclusion or detriment of the interests of other nations. At the highest level of viewing the Civil War that is what both sides fought for. IMHO We now identify with the winners after 6 or so generations so completely that it is difficult to identify with the losers.
The southern population of white people was less smaller and less diverse to begin with, and there was only limited mixing across the race line. The southern areas had a weaker transportation system, a weaker school system, and were not stirred by immigration. So there was an emerging ethnic nation, thought that has been disputed here.
Up until 1850 the northern populations did not have enough national motivation to require the south to modify slavery or to fight for the new nation. However things changed rapidly after 1850 in the north. There were telegraph wires, railroads, widely read publications, and more literate people. And reading is an active mode. If the reader does not do anything they do not get any knowledge.
The southern people who remained in the south were ethnically divided. But by 1860 the northerners were aware that their democracy was like a little brother, who needed protection even at the risk of death.
The secessionists succeeded because they moved before an unshakeable loyalty to the US set in. But they had waited too long, as a strong US nation vigor had arrived.
I think the war was based on the recognition that the southerners were different, and that difference was a threat. The term, "slave power" crystalized those fears.
 

jgoodguy

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The southern population of white people was less smaller and less diverse to begin with, and there was only limited mixing across the race line. The southern areas had a weaker transportation system, a weaker school system, and were not stirred by immigration. So there was an emerging ethnic nation, thought that has been disputed here.
Up until 1850 the northern populations did not have enough national motivation to require the south to modify slavery or to fight for the new nation. However things changed rapidly after 1850 in the north. There were telegraph wires, railroads, widely read publications, and more literate people. And reading is an active mode. If the reader does not do anything they do not get any knowledge.
The southern people who remained in the south were ethnically divided. But by 1860 the northerners were aware that their democracy was like a little brother, who needed protection even at the risk of death.
The secessionists succeeded because they moved before an unshakeable loyalty to the US set in. But they had waited too long, as a strong US nation vigor had arrived.
I think the war was based on the recognition that the southerners were different, and that difference was a threat. The term, "slave power" crystalized those fears.
The Compromise of 1850 allowed the Union to develop enough to suppress a rebellion.
 
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The Compromise of 1850 allowed the Union to develop enough to suppress a rebellion.
Both sections had national unity problems. But the northern areas had a maritime tradition, a good transportation system, and more interconnected newspapers. For the northern section, the newspapers turned out to be an effective channel for dissent. Some of the dissent was suppressed as others have noted.
The south had a distinctive culture, but it also had a weak transportation system. The same system that slowed the advance of the US armies allowed local resistance groups to spring up throughout the Confederacy.
The static comparison of the sections as cited in most history books hides the process that was going on the north. But the preliminary census report put evidence behind Lincoln's supposition that the north was rapidly outgrowing the southern areas.
I think the people of the time had a better sense that 1860 was the south's last chance. By the late fall of 1862, on the ground and in the published reports, there was abundant evidence that they had waited too long.
By 1864 it was mainly a question of ending the war on Lincoln's terms of McClellan's terms.
 



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