Constitutional Development in the South Atlantic States. 1776-1860

By Fletcher M. Green | Go to book overview

CHAPTER IV
SOCIAL AND ECONOMIC SECTIONALISM

A STUDY of the ante-bellum South reveals a conflict of ideals and interests between the up country people and those of the low country, which to a certain extent parallels the struggle between the North and the South for national supremacy. This sectional struggle within the Southern States, though lessened in some, continued in others down to the Civil War, and resulted in the case of Virginia in division into two states. The struggle began in some states even as early as the colonial period and was engendered by physical or geographical features and by social, economic, and political factors. The low country was a fertile region well suited for large plantations for the cultivation of rice, indigo, cotton, and tobacco. It became the home of a wealthy, aristocratic, land-owning, and slave-holding class, which possessing political power from the first retained it. The up country on the other hand, which was hilly and rolling and suited for small farms and cattle raising rather than large plantations, became the home of a class of small farmers who were intensely democratic and hated the dominion and misrule of the low country conservatives. As the country developed the wealthy people of the east bought up and consolidated the small farms of the inland region and thus extended the sphere of conservative control toward the center of the states. The basis of the political control of the low country was laid in the colonial period. This section being settled first developed and extended its system of local government, its system of county representation, its

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