By the 1850's, the North and the South had two entirely different economic structures. The North was primarily industrial, and there was no need for slavery in the North due to the type of industrial growth taking place (Davidson-Stoff). The people of the North were supportive of a free society. The men of the North were able to work towards their social standing, rather than being destined to a certain lifestyle because of where and why one was born, as in the South. In the South, slavery was a part of life, while in the North, slavery was outside of economic, social, and political realities and beliefs. .
The North was more diversified than the South not only in terms of agriculture, but also in regards to transportation. While southerners focused primarily on the farming of cotton, there was production of grain, cattle, and other foods in the North, as well as a developing factory system. By the 1860's, most of the United States' manufacturing occurred in states north of the slave states line (Davidson-Stoff). The North also had growing cities such as New York and Philadelphia, whereas the South remained fundamentally rural. In the North, railroads were the primary mode of transportation for manufactured goods and those food. Specifically in most northern states, the transportation distinction became important. In the North the railroad system became a tool for travel and shipping as early as 1837, and it prospered considerably before the South even had railroads. Another tool of transportation was the river system, in which the South grew on. Cotton, the main stay of the southern economy, was shipped up and down the Mississippi River, north and south, to the rail lines in Ohio to the port of New Orleans. During the war, Union blockades stopped most foreign trade in the South (Scott). The blockades wrecked havoc with the southern economy.
The South's economy in the 1850's was entirely dependent upon slavery and agriculture.