Early Chicago, 1833–1871
A Selection of Documents from the Illinois State Archives

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August 16, 1869

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Before the Civil War the southern economy had concentrated on agriculture with cotton being the chief product. Many leaders became concerned that this concentration and lack of diversity was placing the South behind the North in terms of both population and wealth. In attempts to encourage the growth of manufacturing in the South, commercial conventions were held in several southern cities between 1852 and 1859. These efforts were unsuccessful and, if anything, they helped to foster a sectional identity and encourage secessionist sentiment.

In the aftermath of the war, large numbers of southern horses, mules, and cattle had been destroyed and most farms were left at half their previous values. However, the war had actually stimulated manufacturing and in the war's aftermath industry was in the ascendancy over agriculture in terms of growth. But the decade of 1870-1879 again saw agriculture dominate as the forces of low demand, lack of skilled labor, scarcity of available capital, and insufficient investments in education and technology again exerted themselves.

Delegates from cities, territories, chambers of commerce, boards of trade, and railroad, steamboat, manufacturing, and mining companies from all over the country were invited to the Louisville Convention. Promoters recognized that the commercial interests of one section of the country affected those of the entire Union. And to this end they sought to ignore bygones in order to work for mutual peace and prosperity. The mayor of Chicago did not accept the invitation.

Points to Consider

Where was this convention to be held and why?

What was the purpose of this convention?

Why was Chicago being invited to participate?

Can you compare Chicago to Louisville in 1869?

See Related Document: 42

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