History of Domestic and Foreign Commerce of the United States - Vol. 1

By Emory R. Johnson; T. W. Van Metre et al. | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XIII.
EARLY DEVELOPMENT OF THE INTERNAL COMMERCE OF THE UNITED STATES, 1789 TO 1830.
Location of settlements and commercial cities , 202.
Inland transportation , 203.
The Mississippi River as an outlet for the trade of the Ohio Valley , 205.
Opening of the Mississippi River and the purchase of Louisiana, 206.
Growth in population of the United States from 1790 to 1810, 208.
Internal trade in 1810 , 212.
The War of 1812 and the growth of the West, 211.
Use of steamboats on the Mississippi, 213.
Trade of New Orleans in 1818 , 214.
The panic of 1819 and its effects, 216.
The American system , 218.
Effect of opening of the New York canals in 1825, 220.
Building and aid of canals and turnpikes by the States , 221.
Summary , 222.

At the beginning of the national era the internal commerce of the United States gave small promise of the tremendous development it was to undergo during the ensuing century. There was as yet too little sectional differentiation of occupation to give rise to a large interstate trade in native products, and the proximity of the great part of the population to the seacoast made it cheaper and more convenient to carry on the interstate trade that did exist by means of small sailing- vessels plying along the coast. Practically all the internal trade was devoted to bringing the surplus agricultural produce of the interior to the seaport towns, where it was exchanged for imported wares that could not be produced by the inhabitants of the inland region but which were necessary to their welfare. The domestic commodities collected at the seaports were nearly all exported to foreign countries.

As is usual in a new country, the settlers who had first pushed into the interior had founded their new homes close to the rivers, and these natural highways had always been and still were the most important means of transportation to and from the seacoast. The most important of the rivers flowing into the Atlantic Ocean were the Hudson in New York, the Delaware between Pennsylvania and New Jersey, the Susquehanna in western New York, Pennsylvania, and Maryland, and the Potomac and James in Maryland and Virginia. Other rivers, now considered unnavigable, were continually used at this period, the Connecticut, Roanoke, Savannah and other smaller streams being but little less important than the large rivers. The Mississippi River having been closed to the people of the United States soon after the Revolution, the great western system of inland waterways was of little commercial value, but the current of the Ohio was being used to bear thousands of emigrants to their new homes in the West.

At the mouths of the larger streams that flowed into the Atlantic were to be found the large and wealthy cities, where enterprising men were already laying the foundations of large fortunes in a lucrative and rapidly growing export trade in the agricultural produce that was

-202-

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