Economic and Social Change in the United States 1820-1860

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Over time, transportation has shown to have an incredible impact on the United States. It has revealed to bring about economic and social changes in various ways. In the late eighteenth century ancient methods of traveling were still in use in America and it was often very slow. Americans were aware that if transportation advancement occurred, it would potentially increase foreign trade, increase land values as well as strengthen the American economy.

In the mid 1800s it has been determined that transportation advancement has a drastic effect on our lives even today. Canals, Railroads and Roads have a major effect on United States. The Philadelphia Lancaster Turnpike was the first important turnpike in America. It connected Philadelphia with rich farm lands in Lancaster. This was a success because it influenced other states to do this as well. Due to this turnpike a Cumberland Road was built which connected Maryland to Illinois. Canals had an incredible impact as well.

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In 1825 the Eerie Canal was opened, it starts in Albany by the Hudson River to Buffalo (Great Lakes). This helped stimulate economic growth, also the tolls helped repay for the construction costs, it gave NY access to the Great Lakes. Railroads changed small towns to commercial cities. Railroads began developing in the 1830s and it connected water routes when it was first created. By the 1860s there was approximately 30,000 miles of track. Capital to finance railroads came from private investors, abroad, and local governments. Fed government gave public land grants to railroads.

These transportation developments have great economic and social change in the United States. Due to these advancements the United States went through several economic changes. For example, due to the Eerie Canal, the value of farm products in western New York and the Ohio Valley more than doubled. Both the turnpike and the canal contributed to the emerging national economy, but the most significant development was the railroad. Railroads were faster and cheaper than canals to construct, and they did not freeze over in the winter.

Steamboats played a vital role in the United States economy as well. They stimulated the agricultural economy of the west by providing better access to markets at a lower cost. Farmers quickly bought land near navigable rivers, because they could ship their products out to other countries. Due to the foreign trade it helped strengthen the trade relationship between New England and the Northwest. The transportation development had many positive economic changes in the United States. The change in transportation led to social changes as well.

Due to the construction of railroads in the urban areas there was more settlement in places where transportation was available such as New York. Due to the increase in transportation, white plantation owners increased their need for slave labor on the cotton farms as well as stricter slave code policies were increased in the South. Due to the advanced railroad system Americans are able to move westward very easily. All the migrants were in search for a new life and quick riches. In 1848-1855 Americans moved west because of the California Gold Rush.

The gold rush attracted Chinese migrants to the western United States. Some migrants planned to take advantage of the public lands that the federal government was selling in order to acquire property for farming. Also, some migrants were on religious missions or attempting to escape the epidemic diseases that were developing in the cities in the East. As you can see, the transportation revolution had a great effect on the social changes in the United States. In the mid 1800s it has shown that transportation advancement has a drastic effect on our lives even today.

The transportation revolution in the United States had been created by the desire of the Easterners to take part in what the west had to offer. Turnpike, canals, steamboats, and railways have affected the economy drastically. Transportation modernizations cut the cost and increased the speed of moving goods, strengthen foreign trade, as well as increased immigration and population. Over time, transportation has shown to have an incredible impact on the United States and we would not be the same today without it.

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Economic and Social Change in the United States 1820-1860. (2016, Oct 14). Retrieved from

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