THE EASTERN REGION was economically, socially, and politically the most mature area in the country, and despite the tremendous difference between the South and North, the eastern states did share some common experiences. Many political and economic institutions in the Northeast and Southeast dated from the eighteenth century, and this gave the two sections a certain balance and stability that was, for the most part, lacking in the West.
The Northeast, including New Jersey, Pennsylvania, New York, and the New England states, was the industrial and commercial center of the country and also a prosperous agricultural section. The Erie Canal had opened up not only the interior of New York to the market but much of the West as well, and it was destined to make New York City the major port on the eastern seaboard. Although the growth rate of the Northeast was not nearly so spectacular as that of the younger states of the West, it was a dynamic and vigorous section in its economic prime.
In contrast, the Southeast, including Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia, was a section past its prime. The growth!rate was sluggish, and the economy was languishing, especially in the section's northernmost states. In the twelve years from 1817 to 1829, it was reported that land values in Virginia had been reduced from 206 million dollars to 90 million dollars.1 English traveler Harriet Martineau described conditions in South Carolina in____________________