The Division of the States During the Civil War
The 34-star, prewar flag of 1861 symbolized an expanding Union. In the last decade the nation had leapfrogged over the prairies and mountains to admit California and Oregon; on the eve of Lincoln's inauguration Kansas came into the fold. Moreover, the Eighth Census, taken in 1860 revealed a country expanding in directions other than geographical. It showed a population increasing in almost geometric progression, a healthy agricultural boom, and an industry bursting at the seams. A careful study of the statistics discloses a remarkable disproportion between the nations two major sections--North and South. In area there was little difference. The square mileage of the eighteen Northern states (minus California and Oregon, which were too far distant to contribute much more than moral support to the coming conflict) was actually surpassed by the eleven Confederates states. Three brittle border states--Kentucky, Maryland, and Missouri--might swing either way, and , for this reason they are shown in a different category in the graph below.
In population (Graph 1) the North was double the size of the south, whose population was nearly 40 per cent slave. Of six leading agricultural products (Graph 2) the South led in three; but of these only one was an edible crop. The scales were not so heavily weighed in favor of the North in the livestock category (Graph 3)
Railroad mileage (Graph 4) must be interpreted in terms of total territory--the North had more than twice the mileage of the South for an almost equal area. The statistics for manufacturing and finance (Graphs 5 and 6) expose the basic shortcomings of an agricultural South in an an industrial age.
This balance sheet of assets on the eve of war reveals a disparity that was far from apparent at the time to the two hostile factions. The map below shows the division of the country as it existed as the war began and the graph below it is the one referred to.
The Balance Sheet As The War Began
Source: "The American Heritage Picture History of the Civil War"
This Page last updated 11/16/04