My where are we question of 1850-1860 has to do with agricultural economy of the south in the United States and whether it is on the rise or decline during this period. During this time period of 1850-1860 I believe we often associate the south with having huge plantations growing products such as cotton, tobacco, rice and sugar cane.

However, according to our Digital History reading, not all southern states were suitable at all for this kind of agriculture and not all southern plantations were exclusively devoted to growing these sorts of cash crops. Although not every region in the south was suitable for these crops the areas that did produce them greatly influenced the southern economy. The Souths staple products produced three fifths of the United States exports with cotton being “king” of these products. During this time period the south supplied three fourths of the entire world’s cotton for manufacturing. Because of these southern staple products, especially cotton, the south was very wealthy. The south however continually reinvested their money in the slave economy which slowed its growth in urban and industrialized areas such as mechanized manufacturing.

Overworking the soil also became a problem and eventually new land had to be obtained to constantly produce these products to stay competitive. During this time period the agricultural economy seemed be on the rise, cotton was at an all-time high before the war. In spite of all the wealth the south had with its agricultural products I believe its lack in industrial diversity and growth would have eventually led to its downfall.

One reason I chose this question was because I was curious if the economy had any sort of impact with the south eventually being defeated in the civil war. If they had been more diverse in their economy such as industrial development and not so preoccupied with the slave industry could it have changed history? Research methodology and sources I explored was the Digital History site, in class mdule readings  and journals form Google Scholar.


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