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 XII.
VOLUME AND GENERAL CHARACTER OF THE INTERNAL COMMERCE OF THE UNITED STATES.
Definition of internal commerce , 193.
Internal commerce larger in volume than the foreign trade, 194.
Resources and industrial characteristics of different sections of the United States, 195.
The Northeastern States, 195. The Southern States, 197.
The Central States , 198.
The Rocky Mountain States , 199. The
Pacific States , 199.
Tonnage of commerce by rail, 1910 , 200.

Though in its fullest signification the internal commerce of a country embraces every purchase, sale, and exchange of commodities occurring within its boundaries, together with the business of transmitting intelligence and of transporting persons and things from place to place, the term is here taken as referring to the interchange of commodities among the various sections and communities of a country carried on over interior lines of transportation--rivers, lakes, canals, highways, and railroads. In a study of the history of internal commerce, the local exchanges among the individuals of single communities, which would be included within the scope of the broad definition of internal commerce given above, are not of practical significance; and the business of the transmission of intelligence and of the transportation of persons and property, though its development is of vast importance in the building up of internal trade, is of itself a subject for incidental consideration. To describe the development of the exchange of products among the various sections of a country is the primary object of a history of internal trade.

Internal commerce can scarcely be said to have existed in America prior to the Revolutionary era. Practically the entire population lived on a narrow strip of territory along the Atlantic Ocean, and about the only domestic commerce of importance was the coasting trade. Even this trade was engaged largely in the distribution of imported goods and in the collection of domestic farm and forest products for exportation, as none of the colonies produced a large surplus of any commodity for which there was a demand in any of the other colonies. After the close of the Revolution, the rapid settlement of the region west of the Appalachian highland and the development of a sectional diversity of occupation--manufacturing in the New England and Middle States, grain-raising in the Ohio Valley, and cotton-raising in the South--gave rise to a large internal trade.

After this beginning, internal trade had a steady and rapid growth. The westward migration never ceased until the occupation of the continent from ocean to ocean was accomplished. The vast extent of territory with its incalculable wealth of natural resources, its plentiful rainfall and wide range of climatic conditions, and its facilities

-193-

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