When the American Revolution ended in 1783, the United States was at a crossroads.
Would it remain 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. rivaled Great Britain as a leading industrial nation. American factories perfected the idea of using machine-made interchangeable parts, and 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 almost no industry.