ryDuring a more diverse United States by
ryDuring the first half of the19th century, improvements in transportation developedrather quickly. Roads, steamboats, canals, and railroads allhad a positive effect on the American economy. They alsoprovided for a more diverse United States by allowing moreproducts to be sold in new areas of the country and byopening new markets. Copied from ideas begun in Englandand France, American roads were being built everywhere.
Inan attempt to make money, private investors financed manyturnpikes, expecting to profit from the tolls collected.Although they did not make as much money as expected,these roads made it possible for cheaper (not cheap)domestic transportation of goods. It still cost more totransport a ton of freight a few miles over land than it did tosend it across the Atlantic Ocean. But because of turnpikes,for the first time, goods were able to make it over theformidable Appalachian mountains.
The steamboat was thefirst economical means of inland transport. It was faster andcheaper then the rafts used before them. Additionally, thesteamboats made it possible to travel back up theMississippi, allowing farmers and lumbermen to come downby raft, and travel home in the luxurious comfort of asteamboat after selling their goods.
This also made thenorthwest less self-dependent because it was now able topurchase southern goods. While steamboats sparked theeconomy on the western frontier, canals became increasinglypopular on the east coast. Although expensive ($25,000 permile), and difficult to build, canals were an important sourcefor those farmers and merchants who needed a cheapmethod of inland transportation. The water allowed horses,once only able to pull a ton of materials, to now pull over ahundred tons with the same amount of work. These canalswere not only economical for exporters, but also for thestate. Tolls alone collected from the Erie Canal had, by1825, already paid for the entire project ($7,000,000), andnow was making a substantial amount of profit.
Even thoughit had not totally expanded yet, the cheapest, mosteconomical method of transportation was the railroad.Speed, durability, and safety all contributed to the success ofit. State legislatures and the national government all providedaid to the railroad companies by decreased the tax on railiron.
During this time period, manufacturing also boomed.New ideas and inventions made it faster to produceproducts. However, it is because of these new modes oftransportation that this was ever able to occur. The cottongin, invented by Eli Whitney, would never have been able todevelop fully if the transportation system did not make iteasy to obtain cotton from the south. With these newtechnological breakthroughs, American economic growthwas significantly increased. By allowing cheaper importationand exportation of goods, manufacturers were able toproduce more of these products. Also, it opened newmarkets to different places.
In the northwest, where coffeewas an expensive luxury (costing almost seventeen cents perpound), it was now a common item. The steamboat reducedthe price by over thirteen cents. Also, our new transportationsystem helped other regions work together. And aside frommaterial items, our country benefited economically fromtourism. Any tourist to the New York area would not miss”The Great Western Canal.” So although manufacturing didhave a significant role in developing the American economy,it is because of transportation that manufacturing could haveever improved.Category: History