The Southern states would have ranked fourth in the world in 1860, behind only Australia, the northern United States, and Great Britain.  But the crucial point is surely that it is the Northeast which enjoyed an enormous lead over the South, presumably because of its urban Industrial development. The danger, no doubt less discernible at the time then with hindsight, that the cotton bubble would burst and deprive the slave economy of its most conspicuous advantage.  By 1860, the slaveholder was 10 times as well as the non slaveholder. Much of the explanation lay in the rising price of slaves. If one already own slaves, one could enjoy the benefit of the steady rise in their value;  if one did not own slaves, it was increasingly difficult to get one’s foot on the first rung of the slaveholding ladder.  It was the promise as much as the reality of upward Mobility that traditionally sustained the dreams of many non-slaveholding whites. The minute you put it out of the power of common Farmers to purchase a negro man or woman to help him on his farms, or his wife in the house, you make him an abolitionist at once.  Slaveholders, and most nonslaveholders too, adhered to slavery above all because it was there, and they dreaded the consequences of its demise. “We were born under the institution and cannot now change or abolish it” said a Mississippi planter.  You would have preferred to be “exterminated” rather than be forced to leave in the same society as the freed slaves.  Slave and master when locked together in a system which the one could not escape and the other would not abandon.