" 'A house divided against itself cannot stand.' I believe this government cannot endure permanently half slave and half free. "

Springfield, Illinois June 17, 1858

In the middle of the nineteenth century, no country in the world was so interesting to other nations as the United States and few attracted so many visitors. The book, Democracy in America, by the French political writer, Alexis de Toequeville, won a cordial reception on the European continent, and the verdict on the new country became more and more favorable. Travelers arrived to find the bay and city of Boston beautiful; to marvel over the way in which "one flourishing town after another, such as Utica, Syracuse, and Auburn," had risen from the wilderness; to find, as they traversed the northern states, "everywhere the most un- equivocal proofs of prosperity and rapid progress in agriculture, commerce, and great public works." Indeed, they saw a nation in full enjoyment of prolonged prosperity. Whether the foreign visitors landed at New York, Philadelphia, or Boston, they were struck by the bustle, enterprise, and cheerfulness of the people. A bright, sparkling look dis- tinguished New York with its high buildings and glittering shop windows; Philadelphia was marked by handsome squares, broad shady streets, and neat red-brick houses with scoured white stone doorsteps.

The national territory now stretched continentwide over forest, plain, and mountain. Within these far-flung limits dwelt twenty-three million people in a union comprising thirtyone states. The land of promise had never before seemed so demonstrably the land of performance. In the east, every branch of industry boomed. In the midwest and the south, agriculture was profitable. The railways knitted the settled parts of the country ever more tightly together, and the mines of California Poured a golden stream into all the channels of trade.

Yet all visitors quickly found that two Americas really existed: that of the north and that of the south. And the speed of progress itself held latent dangers for the maintenance of sectional harmony. New England and the middle Atlantic states were the principal centers of manufacturing, commerce, and finance. Principal products of the area were flour and meal, boots and shoes, cotton textiles, lumber prod ucts, clothing, machinery, leather, and woolen goods. At the same time, shipping had reached the high noon of its prosperity, and vessels flying the American flag plied the seven seas, distributing wares of all nations.