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Describe the economy of the North, and its views on slavery, before the Civil War. |

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The Economy of the North and Views of Slavery before the War to Prevent Southern Independence:

The economy of the North was mixed, but industrialism was dominant because of its wealth.  If a farmer or craftsman had products for sale, the populations of the factory towns and industrial cities comprised his market.  If a farmer or craftsman borrowed money, he probably borrowed it from the banking industry.  The antebellum North was an industrial social system because industry determined the welfare of everybody: farmers, craftsmen, factory workers, industrial owners.

Abolitionists viewed slavery as a sin that must be abolished immediately without regard to how much such haste might disrupt society or throw many slaves (newly freed) out of a means of supporting themselves.

Many Northerners viewed slavery as a source of Southern political power.  Since Southern politicians opposed import tariffs which subsidized industry at the expense of agriculture, and opposed spending tax dollars for improvements of harbors and for other subsidization of northern industry and trade, these Northerners opposed slavery.  In fact, for this reason more than any other, most Northerners opposed slavery, though they were far less enthusiastic in their opposition than the abolitionists.  Fanatical abolitionists were fewer in number than mildly anti-slavery Northerners.

Many northern working men opposed the abolitionists because the abolitionists refused to recognize northern labor problems.  The laborers were concerned about their own plight and their own liberation.  The abolitionists were concerned only about the plight and liberty of far-away slaves.  Emancipation of the white man was the great labor objective, and working men's conventions rarely gave any consideration to the anti-slavery issue.  There were instances of riots by factory workers against abolitionists because the factory workers feared that the end of slavery would result in many blacks migrating to the North to work in the factories.  This would have brought the level of factory wages down.  No doubt factory owners looked forward to this.

Horace Greely, a New York newspaper man, had a similar opinion: "If I am less troubled concerning slavery prevalent in Charleston or New Orleans, it is because I see so much slavery in New York which appears to claim my first efforts."

References for this answer:

Gara, Larry. 1975. "Slavery and the Slave Power: A Critical Distinction" in Robert P. Swierenga, ed., Beyond the Civil War Synthesis: Political Essays of the Civil War Era (1975), 295-308.  [College-level reading.]

Rayback, Joseph G. 1943. "The American Workingman and the Antislavery Crusade," The Journal of Economic History, 3, 2 (Nov.), 152-163.  [Senior high school and college-level reading.]

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