North & South Differences in the Civil War Lesson for Kids

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Andrea Miller

Andrea is currently a social studies middle school and high school world teacher in Ohio. She has been a part of the teaching community for 9 years. She has a BA in history from Wright State University, as well as a MEd in education from the University of Dayton. In the education field, Andrea has taught workshops including OGT Success and Writing for Life. Andrea has also been a middle school debate team coach for several years. In the history field, Andrea is currently working towards a Public History Certification in Archival Studies at Wright State University.

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Lesley Chapel

Lesley has taught American and World History at the university level for the past seven years. She has a Master's degree in History.

Before the Civil War in the United States, there were a lot of differences between the North and the South. These social, economic, and educational differences would not only worsen the war but also define its outcome. In this lesson, you will learn about these differences. Updated: 10/09/2020

Civil War

The Civil War was a bloody battle fought between the Northern and Southern states of the United States of America. A civil war is a war fought between citizens of the same country. The Civil War in the United States was a war that had been years in the making. For decades, the North and the South fought over several economic and social issues.

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  • 0:04 Civil War
  • 0:27 Cultural Differences
  • 1:11 Economic Differences
  • 1:56 Education
  • 3:01 Lesson Summary
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Cultural Differences

By the 1820s, people all throughout America were attending religious gatherings. A lot of these gatherings focused on social reform. This was called the Second Great Awakening. Many were thinking about how they could live a better, more moral life. This is when the abolition movement was born in the North. Abolitionists were people who believed in abolishing or getting rid of slavery.

In the North, the abolitionist movement took hold of many different people. All around the region, newspapers, speeches, and books were being written about bringing slavery to an end in the South. In the South, the Southerners were very concerned. Their economy and way of life were dependent upon slavery.

Economic Differences

In the South, life revolved around the cultivation of cash crops. The production of these raw materials was dependent on the hard work of slaves. Raw material production on that scale required a lot of labor. If farmers had to pay for that labor, they wouldn't have made much profit at all. Indigo, tobacco, rice, and cotton were grown in the South and sent all over the world, including the factories that dominated the northern region.

In the North, the economy was based primarily on urban, factory lifestyles. The heavily populated cities of the North, like Boston, New York, and Cincinnati, were brimming with textile mills and other early manufacturing plants. As a result, in the North, women and children were typically in the workplace as well as the men.

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Additional Activities

Prompts About Differences Between North and South in the Civil War for Kids:

Definitions Prompt:

In two to three sentences and in your own words, provide the definitions of a civil war in general and the specific United States Civil War.

Example: A civil war is a war inside of a country itself between people who live in that country.

Essay Prompt 1:

Write an essay of one paragraph that explains who abolitionists were and what they wanted. Also answer the following questions: How did abolitionists spread their word? Why were Southerners concerned about abolition?

Example: Abolitionists were from the North and they wanted to end slavery.

Essay Prompt 2:

In about one to two paragraphs, write an essay that compares and contrasts school in the North to school in the South. Why was it easier for kids in the North to attend school than it was for kids in the South?

Example: The North had more roads than the South, so it was easier for Northern kids to get to school.

Graphic Organizer Prompt:

Create a chart, poster, or some other type of graphic organizer that lists and describes the economic differences between the North and the South.

Example: Cash crops like cotton, tobacco, and rice were central to the South's economy, while factories like textile mills were major parts of the North's economy.

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