4.2 Mountain South: The Antebellum Era (1831-1861)



 

1840

(26 states)

1860

(33 states)

Kentucky

779,828

6th

1,155,684

9th

Tennessee

829,210

5th

1,109,801

10th

Missouri

383,702

16th

1,182,012

8th

Arkansas

97,574

25th

435,450

25th

Percent of U.S. population

12.2%

 

12.3%

 


Key events that shaped law and society:

  • The mountain South played a central role in American history during this era.  Two presidents of the era, Andrew Jackson and James Polk, were Tennesseeans.  Jackson and his supporters implemented a variety of political and legal reforms designed to increase the power of small farmers and workers; they put up stout but ultimately unsuccessful resistance to a movement, led during this era by Kentuckian Henry Clay, for more government support of industrialization and internal improvements. 
  • The region also continued its rapid growth, particularly in the newer states of Missouri and Arkansas, and benefited from the explosive growth of trade along the Mississippi and Ohio River water routes generally.  Memphis, Nashville and Louisville joined St. Louis as regional commercial hubs and provided the first glimmerings of industrialization in the South.
  • Like their sister southern states, mountain South states reacted to the Nat Turner rebellion and increasing northern hostility to slavery by tightening their slave laws, but overall their laws remained somewhat less draconian than laws in the deep South.  A Southern rights convention held in Nashville in 1850 seriously discussed the possibility of secession for the first time, but when the war came, Missouri and Kentucky stayed with the Union and Tennessee and Arkansas seceded only in the face of bitter opposition in their strongly Unionist mountain areas.    

New states:

Arkansas (1836)

File:St. Louis, MO Old Courthouse in 1862 (3400916133).jpg
Old Courthouse, St. Louis, Missouri (1851) - courtesy Wikimedia Commons



File:Harpers-louisville-wharftrooparrival.jpg
Louisville, Kentucky waterfront (Harper's Weekly, 1862) - courtesy Wikimedia Commons