As the United States continued to grow, new technologies and the spread of industrialization helped boost the North's economy. Improved transportation such as locomotives and the railway helped move people and goods quickly across the country. Clipper ships became the pride of the open sea. Communication also improved with the invention of the telegraph and Morse Code. Agricultural advancements due to the John Deere steel-tipped plow and McCormick's Reaper greatly increased harvest size.
As the North took a more industrialized economic approach, the South remained agricultural. The North opened factories and had a rise in the number of cities. Many people immigrated over from other countries for a better life. Due to the North's economic success and the South's struggle, tensions between the two began to grow. As the needs of the country grew and with improvements in technology, the South needed more laborers for their plantations. So years before the Civil War even began, the United States instituted slavery. Millions of Africans were captured, forcibly brought across the Atlantic Ocean, and sold into slavery. Families were separated, never to be seen again. These enslaved people labored day after day for years. The institution of slavery became a major issue that would prove to be one of the causes of war. Years later, President Lincoln would move to emancipate all enslaved people and further ensure that all slavery be abolished with the passing of the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution.
One of the great compromises involving the issue of slavery was proposed by Henry Clay and became known as the Missouri Compromise. The Missouri Compromise (1820) admitted Missouri into the Union as a slave state while admitting Maine as a free state so as to maintain balance of free and slave states within the Union. It further outlawed slavery above the 36°30′ North parallel. Scope out the Battle Plan for Lesson 1 for some in depth analysis into the Missouri Compromise!
States continued to join the Union. Places like Texas would declare their independence and fight in the Alamo to gain their freedom from Mexico. California and Oregon would eventually join later in the 1850s.
People continued to travel farther west. Kit Carson and the mountain men paved the way for westward expansion. Some began the long haul on the Oregon Trail. The trek lasted at least 6 months, traveling 15 miles per day. One only prayed they reached Oregon before the long winter set in. The Donner Party set out for California. Due to several mishaps along the way, they spent the winter in the Sierra Nevadas in 1846-1847. Due to lack of supplies and food, they reverted to cannabilism by eating those who had perished because of starvation or sickness. The snowbound area where the Donner Party stayed is now called Donner Pass.