A "critical year" (April 1860-April 1861) : a study of Unionist sentiment in Western North Carolina during the culminating year of the secession movement

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Robert Paul Ambrose (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site: http://library.uncg.edu/
Loren Schweninger

Abstract: In 1860, much of the western part of North Carolina was on the verge of economic "takeoff." That is not to say this region was, by any stretch of the imagination, an industrial society in the same light as the manufacturing centers of the North. It was, however, experiencing a time when the old impediments and resistances to economic growth were finally being overcome. Sustained prosperity was within the grasp of western Carolinians. It could be achieved by better transportation systems to open new markets, technological changes to increase production, and innovations to facilitate further industrialization. The embryonic state of manufacturing in 1860 was the product of a half century of slow and often painful development; its mere presence foretold of extensive industrial activity in the future. The growth pattern in this area would resemble that which was begun decades earlier in the North. The economic needs of the eastern section and of the cotton growing areas of southwestern North Carolina, unlike those of the West, coincided with other areas of the South which were facing economic stagnation. For decades, planters had been investing mainly in slaves and in land and since the amount of good land was limited each additional investment dollar brought a smaller return. The only hope for continued growth was in the opening of new lands to be exploited by the "planter capitalists." If this could be done, then, for a period of time, investments would bring substantial returns. Most importantly, the future of the eastern and southwestern parts of North Carolina were intertwined with the dominant southern economic system.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 1975

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