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

enterprise and, putting their confidence in a new and almost untried transportation device, which they believed would prove superior to canals, just as canals had proved superior to turnpikes, they boldly inaugurated the plan of a railroad from their city across the mountains to the Ohio, and Charles Carroll of Carrollton, placed the stone that commemorated the beginning of its construction on the same day that President Adams officiated at the rival celebration that marked the beginning of the canal.


SUMMARY.

Thus by 1830 it was certain that the internal commerce of the United States would develop upon a large scale. The territorial division of labor already begun could have but one result--a tremendous expansion of domestic trade. That this expansion had already commenced was amply evident from the fact that notwithstanding the large growth in wealth and population from 1820 to 1830, the imports of the United States had increased but slightly. "The nation was building an empire of its own, with sections which took the place of kingdoms."1New England, NewYork, and Pennsylvania were manufacturing the clothing and iron utensils for the West and South, and the rising tide of foreign immigration was swelling the population of the eastern manufacturing centers. The South was still absorbed in cotton raising, but more than half of the crop was now being raised in Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Tennessee, and the line of plantations was creeping up the Arkansas and Red Rivers, while many planters were moving with their slaves and cotton gins over into the rich coastal plain of Texas. The people of the entire South relied upon the West for their food and live-stock; they bought their clothing and machinery from the North Atlantic States, and their exports, which comprised more than two-thirds of the exports of the entire United States, brought in the specie that facilitated the commerce of all sections. The West was a vast granary. Its new factories were drawing artisans from the East and taking laborers from the country to the cities, thus swelling the demand for the flour and grain that had recently been seeking in vain for a market. The volume of shipments of provisions and merchandise down the Mississippi was larger than ever and the manufacturing population of the East, already too large to be fed by the agricultural produce of New England, New York, and Pennsylvania, was beginning to draw its subsistence from the western farms.

Means of cheap transportation, the lack of which had been such an obstacle to internal development, had been or were being supplied to meet the requirements of the new conditions. Nearly a thousand steamboat arrivals annually at New Orleans, now a city of 50,000, and the hundreds of flat-boats floating down the river indicated that the

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1
Turner, Rise of the Now West, 297.

-222-

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