Conventional wisdom suggests that if the South had won, it would have remained a rural wasteland; I beg to differ …
I was born and raised up North. Well, that depends on your definition of the North. The “North” is broken up into three different parts, the Northwest, the Mid-West, and the Northeast. So for me the North is not the same as it is for someone in New York or Massachusetts. In any event, my Midwestern upbringing talked about slavery in the most abstract terms; the South was fully invested into slavery, had no other economic recourse, and the Civil War was all about the South holding onto their backwards way of life and succeeding from America, which probably should have happened.
Yet when you speak about the South, which South are you really talking about? The Southwest, which is as close to the West coast that you can get, the Southeast, which is what people are typically referring to when they say the South, or the Mid-Atlantic, of which people still, to this day, debate which parts are more “Northern” or “Southern”? The state of Virginia, or should I say, the Commonwealth of Virginia, is in an interesting place now, and it was back then. Virginia did not succeed when the rest of the South did, but afterwards, and was not really interested in getting involved into the Civil War initially. Virginia was also the largest slave state; more Blacks were slaves in Virginia than in any other state.
Ignorance is one thing, but refusing to learn from the lessons of history is quite another. The country had been divided into this Yankee/Confederate mindset, when the truth is often a lot more complicated than that. The South did not have a backwards society, it had more of an independent, isolationist way of doing things. For all of the wonder of technological advances up North, and the industrial society, the South still brought in more money, off of free labor, and the industrial revolution could never match the profits of free labor. At least it could not back then, but it could it do so right now?
What would the South look like today if slavery still persisted? Better yet, what would America look like if we were still enslaved? Would technology from the North be brought in to make the slaves more efficient? Would being whipped, and life in slave quarters of the masters house be replaced by guns and more sophisticated, systematic, forces of intimidation, and large housing projects?