THE quarter century from 1790 to 1815 witnessed the beginning, but only the beginning, of the transformation of the original self-sufficing agricultural economy of western Pennsylvania into an industrial economy based largely on the manufacture of commodities for the outside world. Although agriculture was destined to be superseded in the course of time by manufacturing as the principal source of wealth in the region, it continued to expand throughout this period, not only in the northern section, which was still in process of settlement, but also in the southwestern, where that process had been completed in the main by 1790. This agricultural expansion in fact played an important part in the promotion of industrialism, for it provided the surpluses that made possible the expansion of commerce and the accumulation of fluid capital, both of which were essential to the development of manufacturing on a large scale.
Contemporary accounts of agricultural conditions during the early years of the nineteenth century indicate great variation from section to section and from farm to farm, but on the whole a steady increase in acreage under cultivation, in crops produced, and in the income and wealth of the farmers. In 1804 a traveler reported that the farmers of the Monongahela country "seemed to live in ease and plenty," although many of them were affected by the mania to move to the new country beyond the Ohio. Four years later Cramer Navigator asserted that wheat, rye, barley, oats, buckwheat, corn, and potatoes were produced in that section "in great abundance," that Monongahela flour sold for more than any other at New Orleans, and that "the best and greatest quantity of rye whiskey is made on this river." In 1811, John Melish wrote of this same section: "The farms are well improved, and the farm-houses are, many of them, substantial, and