The Differences between the Antebellum North and South


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They worked hard on what was basically frontier. They were literate, curious and used whatever educational opportunities were available to them at the time. I don’t think they were very much different from the vast majority of other Americans making their way through life.

What you seem to be saying is that the rural education system in the pre-war North was turning out future Rhodes Scholars like so many ears on a corn stalk. I think that’s silly.

Here are a few paragraphs from the Wiki piece on the life of Abe Lincoln:

By 1814 Thomas Lincoln, Abraham's father, had lost most of his land in Kentucky in legal disputes over land titles. In 1816 Thomas and Nancy Lincoln, their nine-year-old daughter, Sarah, and seven-year-old Abraham moved to Indiana, where they settled in Hurricane Township, Perry County, Indiana. (Their land became part of Spencer County, Indiana, when it was formed in 1818.)

Abraham spent his formative years, from the age of 7 to 21, on the family farm in Southern Indiana. As was common on the frontier, Lincoln received a meager formal education, the aggregate of which may have been less than twelve months. However, Lincoln continued to learn on his own from life experiences and through reading and reciting what he had read or heard from others. “


And this from the great State of Illinois, just next door. It doesn’t sound a whole lot different from what was going on in the South at the time to me:

“The first public school law in Illinois was the Free School Act of 1. This weakened the Law of 1825 to the point that few public schools were established.”

“Iroquois County was first settled in 1830. People came to this county from Indiana and Ohio. Often a school was established in each settlement. These schools were not free tax-supported schools, but were “subscription” schools, where parents paid according to the number of children enrolled. These schools were privately operated, usually by a minister, a lawyer, a doctor, or some other educated person of the community.”

“Another Free School Act was passed in 1845. This gave the legal voters the opportunity to meet together to determine the feasibility of levying taxes for the support of building school houses, repairing of school houses, and for other school purposes.”


http://www.iroquoiscounty.net/parkerschoolhouse/history.htm
Apparently Indiana and Illinois had an Oligarch problem as well.
 

O' Be Joyful

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Read my post as edited.
Noted and read. But I still believe that you are missing @OpnCoronet 's point.

But, I was referring to the mindset of the ruling oligarchs, who I believe controlled the legislatures of all the slave states.
Which, as I read it, is that the education systems at that time, in the South largely remained closed to the vast majority of Southerners, except the for the elite. Whereas in the North, they were beginning to offer expanded opportunities for those outside the traditional ruling class. The South continued to hold fast to tradition and thus less diversity of opinion and little chance for change.

Your examples of Lincoln are those of someone who strove to rise above the limited opportunities that life on the "frontier" presented. And what happened there as Illinois, "grew up"? More education opportunities flourished. Whereas in the South... A better question would be, would Abe have been able to rise in the South, of that time, due to his lowly beginning?

That is how I read it Robert. Who were the decision makers both North and South and from whence they came. And how.

Edit for clarity
 
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matthew mckeon

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Guys, maybe someone could post the antebellum literacy rates by state or section? Not counting the slaves. A little less noise and a little more light. Without doing any research myself, my understanding is that the US in general was a pretty literate nation for the middle of the 19th century.
 

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It’s called a castle and it was built in the decades before the CW. Goodguy used a photo of the Old Louisiana Capitol in Baton Rouge to illustrate how Sir Walter Scott heavilily influenced the notions of chivalry, feudalism and fair damsels in the pre war South. I say that is a figment of Mark Twain's imagination as there were clearly example of other “castles” in the US at the time, and I provided a pic one in New York.
Thanks for your response and explanation.
 

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Lincoln got very little formal education. But he believed in education, felt the lack of education, and spend a lot of his time reading and self educating. Is the idea that education was the way to get ahead peculiar to one section?
 

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Guys, maybe someone could post the antebellum literacy rates by state or section? Not counting the slaves. A little less noise and a little more light. Without doing any research myself, my understanding is that the US in general was a pretty literate nation for the middle of the 19th century.
That is what I see, but possibly for free white men, only. Possibly no one was counting slaves and women.

The Legacies of Literacy: Continuities and Contradictions in Western Culture ...
By Harvey J. Graff Link
 
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jgoodguy

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The Impending Crisis of the South

Is this book as a self-help book for the South or an attempt to force Northern society and ideology on the South presumptively without understanding the South or considering its points of view.


The Impending Crisis of the South: How to Meet It is an 1857 book written by Hinton Rowan Helper of North Carolina, which he self-published in New York City.[1] It was a strong attack on slavery as inefficient and a barrier to the economic advancement of whites. The book was widely distributed by Horace Greeley and other antislavery leaders, and infuriated Southern leaders.

The book condemned slavery, but did not take what Helper considered to be the ineffectually sentimental or moralistic abolitionist approach (as seen in Uncle Tom's Cabin, 1852): Hinton explicitly wrote "not with reference, except in a very slight degree, to its humanitarian or religious aspects."[2] Instead, Helper crafted an analysis that appealed to whites' rational self-interest, rather than any altruismtowards blacks. Helper claimed that slavery hurt the Southern economy by preventing economic development and industrialization, and that it was the main reason why the South had progressed so much less than the North (according to the results of the 1850 census and other verifiable factual measures) since the late 18th century. Helper tried to speak on behalf of the majority of Southern whites, poor or of moderate means — the Plain Folk of the Old South — whom he claimed were oppressed by a small aristocracy of wealthy slave-owners.

Not a way to win friends and influence Southerners by attacking them, especially the elites.

Helper's tone was aggressive: "Freesoilers and abolitionists are the only true friends of the South; slaveholders and slave-breeders are downright enemies of their own section. Anti-slavery men are working for the Union and for the good of the whole world; proslavery men are working for the disunion of the States, and for the good of nothing except themselves." (p. 363)
There was a reaction. WFIW Foner addressed the issue of increasing sectional political differences by this book

The Compendium version appeared in July 1859; it was an abridgement that kept the statistics but watered down some of the confrontational rhetoric, for use in Republican Party campaigning. This version met with fierce opposition in the South and many places banned it. Possession of a copy was treated as criminal offense. Distributors of the book were arrested, and three men in Arkansas were hanged for possession of it.[3]

It widened the gulf between North and South, especially through the protracted December 1859 – January 1860 political struggle about electing John Sherman to the speakership of the House. Historians[who?] agree it helped sharpen sectional political differences in the period immediately preceding the American Civil War.
 

NH Civil War Gal

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The Legacies of Literacy: Continuities and Contradictions in Western Culture ...
By Harvey J. Graff Link

A note that while literacy was important it was not everything.

View attachment 175077
I agree it wasn't everything back then but literacy was quickly becoming everything. Literacy wasn't necessarily considered a major lack if you were a successful farmer, carpenter, mechanic. But soon, things would be coming with instructions and the CW accelerated the technological boom that was happening in England and here.

I suspect, even by the CW, professions of any sort needed literacy - north or south. I can't think of any examples of Doctors, Clerks, Lawyers, Bankers, etc that didn't need literacy. Sea Captains needed it, able-bodied seaman not so much. Officers needed it, average soldier not so much. But the day was fast approaching that all would need it.
 

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I agree it wasn't everything back then but literacy was quickly becoming everything. Literacy wasn't necessarily considered a major lack if you were a successful farmer, carpenter, mechanic. But soon, things would be coming with instructions and the CW accelerated the technological boom that was happening in England and here.

I suspect, even by the CW, professions of any sort needed literacy - north or south. I can't think of any examples of Doctors, Clerks, Lawyers, Bankers, etc that didn't need literacy. Sea Captains needed it, able-bodied seaman not so much. Officers needed it, average soldier not so much. But the day was fast approaching that all would need it.
Throughout history, literacy was not important in societies with no opportunity for 'upward mobility'. But as more opportunities opened up, it became vital.
 

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In the antebellum South if I was a Northerner and an abolitionist and wanted to rally the non-slave owning Southerners to revolt against slavery, how far south would I get before I was lynched? Do you think I would have made it through Virginia or should I good down through the Cumberland Gap into East Tennessee?
That was, indeed, a big difference between the regions. An abolitionist certainly wasn't any more welcome in the south than a slave trader in the north.
 
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In the antebellum South if I was a Northerner and an abolitionist and wanted to rally the non-slave owning Southerners to revolt against slavery, how far south would I get before I was lynched? Do you think I would have made it through Virginia or should I good down through the Cumberland Gap into East Tennessee?
Try central or western NC.
 

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Although both sections had many people who went to church were the churches different? For example how many Quakers lived in the North and how many in the South? Were Catholics evenly divided between the sections?

although most Christian churches were similar there probably were some differences in 1860. One could assume that the higher number of German immigrants in the North would mean a difference in the churches between the two sections.
 



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