Regional Differences

Of the residents that lived in Little Egypt, many of them were immigrants from other southern states. In the early 1800’s farmers from Kentucky, Missouri, Tennessee, and Virginia migrated into Southern Illinois. Many of them had previously been slave owners in other states, and some even brought their slaves with them. For the southern immigrants, moving to Egypt was a fairly easy transition. The familiar southern climate allowed them to use the farming practices they had gained experience with in the south, and the close location to northern factories provided a stable market for their raw materials. Along with their farming practices the southern immigrants brought their political ideals, and cultural beliefs.

Cairo, Illinois. From Sons of the South.com http://www.sonofthesouth.net/leefoundation/civil-war/1861/june/ohio-levee-cairo.jpg

Cairo, Illinois. From Sons of the South.com
http://www.sonofthesouth.net/leefoundation/civil-war/1861/june/ohio-levee-cairo.jpg

Strong ties to the Democratic Party, and connections to close relatives who stayed back in the Old South gave Egypt a sense of “southern” culture. The cultural background and immigration history go a long way towards explaining why many residents had sympathy for the south when war broke out in 1861. Moreover, the region developed an economy that was based largely on agriculture and trade with the North. Unlike Chicago and the counties to the north, Egypt did not have many factories or manufacturing capabilities. Like the states in the Old South, Little Egypt was anti-banking, and anti-Wilmot Proviso (a proposal to ban slavery in any territory acquired from the Mexican War.) Much of the economic success Egypt enjoyed was due to the trade between the North and South.

Cairo PaintingResting on the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers, Cairo would act as a middle man between the nation’s regions. Raw materials from the South would come up the river and stop in Cairo where they would either be sent northward by boat, or unloaded and put on the Central Illinois railway. Access to the railroads allowed goods from the Deep South, and Little Egypt, to travel into the interior of the north often reaching the factories in Chicago. It was due to this relationship between the North and South that Egypt was put in a tough political spot during the war when deciding who their loyalties lay with.