How Did Slavery Increase Sectionalism?

By Antonia Čirjak on June 10 2020 in History

Sectionalism can be defined as the loyalty of an individual to a specific region in a country, rather than to the entire country as a whole.
  • The most famous example of sectionalism in history happened in the United States in the 1800s which ultimately led to the Civil War.
  • Slavery is not exclusive to the US; it was a common practice ever since the days of British colonies in the 13th century.
  • Slavery played a crutial role in the development of sectionalism, and once it was finally abolished the country could be united.

Sectionalism can be defined as the loyalty of an individual to a specific region in a country, rather than to the entire country as a whole. Sectionalism occurs all over the world, in most countries, even the smaller ones. People like to bond over the area they live in and find similar characteristics to the other people living there.

Since the lifestyles of people are often determined by the geographical position they live in, which can vary greatly according to the part of the country, it is easy to see how people can bond together creating sectionalism. Of course, the most famous example of sectionalism in history happened in the United States in the 1800s. The difference between the American North and South led to increased tensions between the two which resulted in the Civil War. of course, slavery played a large part in it.

Slavery In The American South

People across the United States were loyal to the part of the country they lived in. This had a lot to do with their lifestyles. People living in the North were more progressive. They abolished slavery, and turned towards new technologies, opening up factories and dealing with heavier industries. Meanwhile, the South remained loyal to the more traditional values and an agricultural lifestyle. The big problem with this was that their lifestyle included slavery.

A large number of Africans were enslaved by the Americans and forced to work on plantations in inhumane conditions. Of course, slavery did not originate in the United States, it was a common practice ever since the days of British colonies in the 13th century. But while countries all over the world started to get rid of it, the American South continued to embrace slavery as an important part of their everyday lives. This has left a permanent negative mark on American history.

The Differences That Brought Conflict And Change

Another thing that greatly influenced sectionalism was the fact that while the North was developing, new states kept emerging there which diluted the power of the region as a whole. Meanwhile, the South remained loyal to the ways things were for a while, so the majority of presidents that were elected at the time were from the South. The North was constantly urbanizing more and more, building more factories and adapting to the new times. 

The people in the South did not like these, because they valued tradition over everything. Naturally, with progress, the people in the North started judging those in the South for not abolishing slavery. The people in the South responded by saying that the factory workers in the North were working in worse conditions than slaves. It is safe to say that this was an exaggeration.

Still, because of this difference in lifestyles, sectionalism could be felt more and more. The fact that slavery was morally wrong could not be ignored anymore, and the tensions between the North and the South continued to increase. Slavery did indeed increase sectionalism. It made such a huge difference between the two parts of the country that it could not be ignored. While the North was opening up to the future, and trying to create a country that was welcoming to everyone, the South continued to refuse any type of change. Slavery definitely played a major role in sectionalism, and once it was finally abolished the country could be united.

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