America in the 1850s

Slavery and Sectional Animosity

Did the Southern states also have a “West”?

Not in quite the same way. The reason is that cotton—which had replaced tobacco as the number-one crop in the South—thrived especially well in the areas close to the Mississippi River. There was, therefore, less reason and less pressure to migrate farther west. Some Southerners did, of course, do so; the Lone Star State of Texas would not otherwise have been created. But Texas was the standout, the exception to the rule. Except for it, the vast areas between Virginia in the east and Louisiana in the west were generally regarded simply as “the South.”

As to social and cultural aspects, it is difficult to say whether a Texas gunslinger was as prominent as a Virginia gentleman, or if a Georgia planter was the same as one in Arkansas. What held the South together, though, at least conceptually, was that it was the land of hard labor, where human hands broke the ground and reaped the rewards. That, naturally, begs the next question.


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