How Did the Issue of Slavery Differ in the North and the South?

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Slavery was less crucial to the livelihood of the industrialized North than the plantation system of the South. A Christian movement preaching against slavery began to spread throughout the North as well. The morality debate reached Congress and divided the country over the rights of states versus the rights of the federal government in determining the legalities of slave ownership.

To some extent, climate played a significant role in defining the issue of slavery for Northern and Southern states. Northern states had more temperate climates with four distinct season. For this reason, most industrial work was done indoors so as not to be disrupted by revolving weather patterns. In the agricultural South, where most of the work was done outside, the climate was hotter and more humid. The conditions were not conducive to working outdoors for many white workers, who also demanded wages as opposed to slave labor, which could be had for the cost of the slave plus a meager food allowance. Additionally, the shift from tobacco to cotton as the South’s signature crop increased the need for labor. This actually perpetuated an economic battle between the North and South concerning slavery. Although Northern states utilized the raw materials produced by the South in the manufacture of goods, in denying the Southern states slavery, the industries of the north could gain an economic advantage over their Southern counterparts.