Antebellum and Reconstruction Era Report
The Antebellum period, meaning before the war, has an indecisive starting date at around 1815, ending in 1861 at the start of the Civil War.
The South was largely agricultural, producing cash crops in the plantation system, and selling them for shipment in market towns and particularly in port cities. This was the foundation of the Southern economy. It was remembered as King Cotton although that was not the only important crop; tobacco was produced and marketed similarly. Under this system, land ownership was the most important measure of wealth and social status.
The North tended to have greater economic variety, with mostly survival farming by small-scale farmers who produced crops in excess of needs for market. The port cities of New England were home to major commercial endeavors and America's nascent industrial establishment. The "North" also included what we now think of as the West, with large scale ranching producing beef as a "cash crop". Under this system, banking, business interests, and other forms of capital than land were also important.
After the 1830s, so many people were sour on banks that 7 states outlawed them. Only private banks that did not issue banknotes operated in these states. Some commercial banks were established in other states (including Georgia) with the intention of circulating most of their notes in these 7 states. These banks were called wildcat banks. Supposedly they were called this because they were located in the backwoods where wildcats roamed. Those who received their notes were not expected to show up asking that they be redeemed.
The late antebellum period in the old South is often considered the height of Southern aristocracy. Although the planters owned a majority of the wealth and land, it was their slaves who made the plantations a success. These large plantations acted as independent states in which different rules and regulations were enforced. Each plantation had a...