Chapter 14

Forging the National Economy



The Westward Movement

The life as a western pioneer was very grim. Pioneers were poor and stricken with disease and loneliness.


Shaping the Western Landscape

Fur trapping was a large industry in the Rocky Mountain area.  Each summer, fur trappers would meet with traders from the East to exchange beaver pelts for manufactured goods ("rendezvous" system).

George Caitlin: painter and student of Native American life who was one of the first Americans to advocate the preservation of nature; proposed the idea of a national park.


The March of Millions

By the mid-1800s, the population was doubling every 25 years.  By 1860, there were 33 states and the U.S. was the 4th most populous country in the western world.

The increased population and larger cities brought about disease and decreased living standards.

In the 1840s and 1850s, more European immigrants came to the Americas because Europe seemed to be running out of room. Immigrants also came to America to escape the aristocratic caste and state church, and there was more opportunity to improve one's life. Transoceanic steamboats also reduced ocean travel times.

The Emerald Isle Moves West

In the 1840s, the "Black Forties," many Irish came to America because of a potato rot that induced a famine through Ireland.  Most of the Irish were Roman-Catholic.  They were politically powerful because they bonded together as one large voting body. They increased competition for jobs, so they were hated by native workers.  The Irish hated the blacks and the British.


The German Forty-Eighters

Between 1830 and 1860, many Germans came to America because of crop failures and other hardships (collapse of German democratic revolutions).

Unlike the Irish, the Germans possessed a modest amount of material goods when they came to America. The Germans moved west into the Middle West (Wisconsin).

The Germans were more educated than the Americans, and they were opposed to slavery.


Flare-ups of Antiforeignism

The massive immigration of the Europeans to America inflamed the prejudices of American nativists.  The Roman Catholics created an entirely separate Catholic educational system to avoid the American Protestant educational system.

The American party (Know-Nothing party) was created by native Americans who opposed the immigrants.

Many people died in riots and attacks between the American natives and the immigrants.


Creeping Mechanization

In 1750, steam was used with machines to take the place of human labor.  This enabled the Industrial Revolution in England.

It took a while for the Industrial Revolution to spread to America because soil in America was cheap and peasants preferred to grow crops as opposed to working in factories.  Because of this, labor was scarce until the immigrants came to America in the 1840s.  There was also a lack of investment money available in America. The large British factories also had a monopoly on the textile industry, with which American companies could not compete.


Whitney Ends the Fiber Famine

Samuel Slater: "Father of the Factory System" in America; escaped Britain with memorized plans for textile machinery; put into operation the first machine to spin cotton thread in 1791.

Eli Whitney: built the first cotton gin in 1793. The cotton gin was much more effective than slaves at separating the cotton seed from the cotton fiber. Its development affected the entire world. Because of the cotton gin, the South's production of cotton greatly increased and demand for cotton revived the demand for slavery.

New England became the industrial center of the Industrial Revolution in America because it had poor soil for farming; it had a dense population for labor; shipping brought in capital; seaports enabled the import of raw materials and the export of the finished products.

Marvels in Manufacturing

The War of 1812 created a boom of American factories and the use of American products as opposed to British imports. 

The surplus in American manufacturing dropped following the Treaty of Ghent in 1815.  The British manufacturers sold their products to Americans at very low prices.  Congress passed the Tariff of 1816 to protect the American manufacturers. 

In 1798, Eli Whitney came up with the idea of using machines (instead of people) to make each part of the musket. This meant that the musket's components would be consistently manufactured, and thus, could be interchanged. The principle of interchangeable parts caught on by 1850 and it became the basis for mass-production.

Elias Howe: invented the sewing machine in 1846. The sewing machine boosted northern industrialization. It became the foundation of the ready-made clothing industry.

Limited Liability: an individual investor only risks his personal investment in a company in the event of a bankruptcy.

Laws of "free incorporation": first passed in New York in 1848; enabled businessmen to create corporations without applying for individual charters from the legislature.

Samuel F. B. Morse: invented the telegraph.


Workers and "Wage Slaves"

Impersonal relationships replaced the personal relationships that were once held between workers.

Factory workers were forbidden by law to form labor unions to raise wages.  In the 1820s, many children were used as laborers in factories.  Jacksonian democracy brought about the voting rights of the laboring man.

President Van Buren established the ten-hour work day in 1840 (for federal employees on public projects).

Commonwealth vs. Hunt: Supreme Court ruled that labor unions were not illegal conspiracies, provided that their methods were honorable and peaceful.


Women and the Economy

Farm women and girls had an important place in the pre-industrial economy: spinning yarn, weaving cloth, and making candles, soap, butter, and cheese. 

Women were forbidden to form unions and they had few opportunities to share dissatisfactions over their harsh working conditions.

Catharine Beecher: urged women to enter the teaching profession.

The vast majority of working women were single.

Cult of Domesticity: a widespread cultural creed that glorified the customary functions of the homemaker.

During the Industrial Revolution, families were small, affectionate, and child-centered, which provided a special place for women.


Western Farmers Reap a Revolution in the Fields

The trans-Allegheny region, especially Indiana and Illinois, became the nation's breadbasket.

Liquor and hogs became the early western farmer's staple market items because both of these items were supported by corn.

John Deere: produced a steel plow in 1837 which broke through the thick soil of the West.

McCormick Reaper: a horse-drawn mechanical reaper that could cut and gather crops much faster than with previous methods (i.e. hand-picking). This enabled larger-scale farming.


Highways and Steamboats

Lancaster Turnpike: hard-surfaced highway that ran from Philadelphia to Lancaster; drivers had to pay a toll to use it.

In 1811, the federal government began to construct the National Road, or Cumberland Road.  It went from Cumberland, in western Maryland, to Illinois.  Its construction was halted during the War of 1812, but the road was completed in 1852.

Robert Fulton: installed a steam engine on a boat and thus, created the first steamboat. The steamboat played a vital role in the economic expansion of the West and South, via their extensive waterways.


"Clinton's Big Ditch" in New York

Governor DeWitt Clinton: governor of New York who lead the building of the Erie Canal that connected the Great Lakes with the Hudson River in 1825; the canal lowered shipping prices and decreased passenger transit time.


The Iron Horse

The most significant contribution to the expansion of the American economy was the railroad.  The first one appeared in 1828.

Railroads were initially opposed because of safety flaws and because they took away money from the Erie Canal investors.


Cables (Telegraphs), Clippers, and Pony Riders

In the 1840s and 1850s, American navel yards began to produce new ships called clipper ships.  These ships sacrificed cargo room for speed and were able to transport small amounts of goods in short amounts of time.  These ships were eventually superseded by steamboats after steamboats were improved.

The Pony Express was established in 1860 to carry mail from St. Joseph, Missouri to Sacramento, California.  The mail service collapsed after 18 months due to lack of profit.


The Transport Web Binds the Union

The transportation revolution was created because people in the east wanted to move west.

The South raised cotton for export to New England and Britain.  The West grew grain and livestock to feed factory workers in the East and in Europe.  The East made machines and textiles for the South and the West.  All of these products were transported using the railroad; the railroad linked America.

The Market Revolution

The market revolution transformed the American economy from one in which people subsisted on things they grew/created to one in which people purchased goods that were produced all over the country.


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