"Sequestering" Resources-- the South and the North

Mark Lause MLause at cinci.rr.com
Tue Jul 15 07:40:31 MDT 2003

Motives notwithstanding, statistics, in and of themselves, don't prove
much, and require explanations and arguments.  Indeed, why do these
quantitative disparities between North and South in 1850 mean something
qualitatively different than earlier or later disparities?

The assumption that slavery--working people for no wages--was somehow
unprofitable or unproductive always struck me as a bit undigested.  If
we look at the question of profitability, the slaveholding South was the
wealthiest and politically dominant section of the country from the
1820s into the 1850s. If the war had just been about which section could
turn a bigger profit, the plantation system would have prevailed.  As to
modernizing land usage, the South went from being the richest to the
poorest section of the US (and stayed that way for generations) largely
because land usage in much of the region remained unchanged by the war.

The Southern Democratic ambitions and conduct over the American West
were not the result of a sectional panic.  This only makes sense in the
context of their overall view of the world--Indians, Mexicans, Central
Americans, etc.

Mark L.

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