…the South was essential to the development of global capitalism, and the rest of the country (along with much of the world) was deeply implicated in Southern slavery. Slavery was what made the United States an economic power. It also served as a malign innovation lab for influential new techniques in finance, management, and technology. England abolished slavery in its colonies in 1833, but then became the biggest purchaser of the slave South’s main crop, cotton. The mills of Manchester and Liverpool were built to turn Southern cotton into clothing, which meant that slavery was essential to the industrial revolution. Sven Beckert, in “Empire of Cotton,” argues that the Civil War, by interrupting the flow of cotton from the South, fuelled global colonialism, because Europe needed to find other places to supply its cotton.
Nicholas Lemann, “The Price of Union”, The New Yorker (2 November 2015), 90.