The Old Northwest as the Keystone of the Arch of American Federal Union: A Study in Commerce and Politics

The Old Northwest as the Keystone of the Arch of American Federal Union: A Study in Commerce and Politics

The Old Northwest as the Keystone of the Arch of American Federal Union: A Study in Commerce and Politics

The Old Northwest as the Keystone of the Arch of American Federal Union: A Study in Commerce and Politics

Excerpt

Union is undoubtedly the greatest single fact in American history. There is little more reason, geographically, climatically, or economically why Massachusetts and Louisiana should be a part of the same country than why Norway and Italy should be under one central government. The advantages of the American union over the European system will not here be pointed out, but an examination of one of the most important causes of its continuance is the subject of this book.

While it is admitted that our country got off to a better start in the matter of union than did the countries of western Europe and while it is agreed that the article in the Federal Constitution providing for interstate free trade was basic to the preservation of the Union, the conclusion here reached is that the peculiar natural location and economic value of the eastern half of the upper Mississippi valley was the decisive factor in permanently tying our country together. The heart of that region was the section lying east of the Mississippi and north of the Ohio, now usually known as the Old Northwest and first organized as a territory under the Ordinance of 1787. Sectional lines can, of course, not be sharply drawn. At times adjacent regions, such as western Pennsylvania, Kentucky, northern Missouri, and just before the Civil War, eastern Iowa constituted parts of the section here under consideration.

At the time of the formation of the American union, because of the potential value of the western interior, the seaboard states were loath to lose their undivided interest in it. Later, as the region became populated and productive, the northeastern states and southeastern states were . . .

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