When the American Revolution ended in 1783, the United States was at a crossroads.
Would it stay an agricultural country of farmers and craftsmen, or would it become a manufacturing country like Great Britain and France?
In the northern states, manufacturing won out. Within a few decades, the U.S. was neck and neck with Great Britain as a leading industrial nation. American factories perfected the idea of using machine-made swappable parts. The practice became known as “the American system.”
In the South, the invention of the cotton gin made growing cotton extremely profitable. So the South stuck with agriculture and slavery, developing very little industry.