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America on its way to modernity (1800-1860)

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  1. Introduction.
  2. The two different economies.
    1. The northern industry.
    2. The southern agriculture.
    3. Working conditions.
  3. Communication between the North and the South.
    1. Transportation.
    2. New media.
    3. Art.
  4. Changes in society.
    1. Slavery.
    2. Education.
    3. The statute of women.
  5. Conclusion.
  6. Bibliography.

The beginning of the nineteenth Century was mostly rural: indeed the Americans living in the countryside were five times in number than those living in cities. Moreover the nation grew considerably in 1790; there were four million American and seventy years later, there are thirty-nine million. That rapid rise, especially due to immigration, was followed by technological changes which modified the economy of the new nation. Nevertheless, those changes were not equal in the whole country: a gap in each matter was widening between the North and the South. To what extend can we say that the economic opposition between those two parts finally leads to modernity in the whole United States? To understand it, we will first study the two different economies, on the basis of the divide. However, we will see that there was a communication between the two worlds. Finally we will analyze the social changes which resulted from that situation.

[...] Thanks to the fact that the attention was focussed on that culture, cotton plantations spread inland and the values of lands increased. Cotton was thus cultivated in Alabama, Mississippi, Texas and Arkansas. Another kind of economy was developed in the South: the slave economy. Indeed there was an important demand for black slaves because promises f quick profits were made thanks to the abundance of cotton and of uncultivated lands. The fact to own slaves thus became a factor of wealth: the more a planter had slaves, the more he had social and political influence. [...]

[...] Thanks to that, space can be crossed more rapidly, which helped the North in its industrial expansion. Indeed there were fewer distances between the producers and the consumers which were crucial especially for perishable goods. Other modes of transports were still used to traverse the continent: river and canal transports were still important as the steamboats which were used on the Mississippi and its tributaries. In the land the great Erie Canal was necessary to join the interior to the East. [...]

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