Session 1: “Taking Stock of the Nation in 1859” (Part 3)
The 1859 census will show that 99% of the north is white. Most people in the North do not wake up thinking about the South. They are thinking about jobs, the possibility of moving west – if the Indians are taken care of. Indians were a concern for northern whites because many of the tribes were not yet forced on reservations or eliminated. Most of the Louisiana Purchase is still vacant – a vast interland is still Indian country (something less than 25% is still unorganized) Nothing is settled about the future of the west.
Northern cities and industrial growth: What does it look like? New York City is the largest city at right around 1 million. There are also great river cities like St. Louis. According to Walter Johnso we’ve exxagerated the industrial development in the North; most of these cities are still mercantile – England is still much further evolved. It’s an important point because of our sharp distinctions between industrial north and slaveholding South – much more complex. 1859 census will show that production of flower and meal is the most popular product followed by cotton and low on the list is iron and other industrial products. Most northerners farm as in the South. There are cities in the South that look much like Northern cities. The second biggest port in 1859 is in New Orleans.
Why is the tariff so important? The degree of urbanization was higher in the 1840s and 50s as opposed to any other time. Defenders of slavery return to (1837-59) the fact that it exports far more than it imports and as a result is dependent on northern banks and merchants. South has a favorable tariff after 1857 under the Buchanan administration (rate is around 20% and is not at that moment a major issue).
Free blacks in the South: The FB population is relatively low (3-4%) thought they are living in roughly the same places that enslaved blacks were living. There is a free black population in Richmond working in warehouses and on farms as well as skilled trades. There lives are precarious, especially in parts of the South, because unless your status can be verified your freedom could be taken away. Certificates of freedom were not registered. Free blacks lived outside of society thought they were impacted directly by it. There is an active campaign in the South (LA) to pass legislation enslaving free blacks. There was even a law that allowed free blacks to reenslave themselves. General population believes that the black population needs to be controlled. This issue has split major churces such as the Baptists.
Most people did not wake up in 1859 thinking that they are fast approaching a civil war or living in the Antebellum Age.