The technological changes in the mid-19th century were extensive. To being with, agricultural, long a staple of the South, and an important livelihood in a country that had not yet rapidly urbanized, was hugely important. The steel plow and the mechanical reaper were invented in this period and allowed for farmers to spend less energy harvesting and to produce greater yields (Boyer, et al, 238). New irrigation techniques also provided more arable land.
An additional technological change that had a big impact was the rise of railroads (Boyer, et al, 240). Rail coverage expanded nearly ten times over a twenty year period. Americans of all classes were able to travel freely and comfortably. Perhaps more than anything this helped to open up the West during this period.
Culture was rapidly increasing during this period too, as American writers looked inward to their soul and outward to their growing country. Writers like Dickinson, Thoreau and Emerson published works that began the process of defining what it meant to be American. A definition that would be sorely tested during the Civil War.
The president at the time, Abraham Lincoln was a very principled and serious lawyer who cared a lot about his country. He fought against politicians who were pro-slavery, but he was conflicted about what the solution to this terrible problem. When he became president at first he didn’t believe the solution was to free all the slaves, nor did he think this was the most important issue in the Civil War between North and South. He saw too many shades of grey. But as the war progressed, he began to see that slavery was the main issue and he would have to do something about it. Slavery was an important issue, but one thing that Lincoln didnt understand was how technology was changing things dramatically. One of the great consequences of technology was that it allowed the war to be that much more vicious and to kill many more people than expected. This