The Nation of Growth – the Tide Is a Changing
Essay title: The Nation of Growth – the Tide Is a Changing
October 18, 2005
THE NATION OF GROWTH
The tide is a changing
At the beginning of the 1900s the nation faced its biggest changes since the revolutionary war. During the time between the revolution and the war of 1812 the economy of the country was largely tied to international trade, if our international partners stopped buying our goods such as tobacco and timber then the whole domestic economy faltered. Americans remained mostly self-sufficient. There was no real local market to adsorb the excess goods produced by the American manufactures.
But the War of 1812 marked an important turning point in the creation and expansion Americas domestic markets. Since Britain had enacted an embargo during the war Americans looked to the colonies for there goods. This stimulated the growth of manufacturing, particularly in textiles.
As the nation grew more and more settlers were leaving the states they were born in to move west. The government was selling land for little as $1.25 an acre and a settler didnt even need money. The land and the tools needed to work it could be bought with credit. As these new land owners started bringing in new crops it became clear that with out some kind of efficient way to bring all these crops to market there stood little chance to make a profit. So with the movement west came a new movement to move goods more efficiently; this need produced improvements in roads and waterways. Ambitious projects like the Erie Canal decreased the cost of transporting goods to market by 10 fold. The increase use of Mississippi River led to the introduction of steam boats that allowed a ten week journey down the river to be reduced to one week. Getting more goods to the mouth of the Mississippi allowed more trade with foreign countries. Use of these rapid transit systems also allow more goods to be traded between the states.
All this rapid movement of goods had a snow ball affect in many other areas of the country. Since goods could be delivered faster, businessmen were better able to take advantage of market trends, in order to learn about these trends they needed better and faster forms of communication. This needed translated to the creation of the telegraph and postal systems. The improved communications translated into more sales which meant the need for more goods which intern created the need for more workers. In a short span of about 50 years the country moved from a nation of self-supporters to a nation of self-consumers.
A nation divided
As the county move from on their journey of economic growth there was also a drastic change in the roles that the states played. With the increase in new lands of the west and the ability to move the crops they produced the southern states became the agricultural backbone of America. Large plantations of cotton, tobacco and sugar dotted the landscape. These plantations demand then need for large cheap labor forces made up of slaves and migrant workers. While the plantation owners got richer the farm workers and slaves got nothing. The social system of the south and west was very unbalance by this wealth. In the deep south either you had money and were on the upper rung of the social latter or you were a farmer worker and on the lower or lowest rung to the social latter. The western frontier wasnt quite as bad as the south, even thought they too had there share of slaves many of the population were professionals, merchants and tradesman that had come to the west of their own free will.
The North, unable to compete with wheat yields of western farms, shifted to producing fruits, vegetables, and dairy products for rapidly growing urban areas. More importantly the North turned to manufacturing. While the south was producing more and more cash crops the factories of the north were producing more goods for the explosive domestic market. This increase in manufacturing also brought huge changes in the norths social structure. Instead of