These include but cannot be limited to the construction of the ErieCanal, the invention of the telegraph, the developed of the railroads, theestablishment of Wall Street and banking, the textile, shipping, agriculture andnewpaper industries, the development of steam power and the use of iron products. On October 26, 1825 the Erie Canal was opened. The canal immediately became animportant commercial route connecting the East with the Ohio and MississippiValleys. With tht time of travel cut to one-third and the cost of shippingfreight cut to one-tenthof the previous figures, commerce via the canal soonmade New York City the chief port of the Atlantic. The growing urbanpopulation and the contruction of canals, railroads and factories stimulated thedemand for raw materials and food stuffs. In 1836 four-fifths of the tonnageover the Erie Canal came from western New York (North, 105).
Much of thiscargo was in the form of agriculture goods. The farmer become a shrewed businessaman of sorts as he tended to producewhatever products would leave him the greatest profit margin. The rise of thedairy industry was by far the most significant development in the agriculturalhistory of the state between 1825 and 1860. Farmers discovered that cows weretheir most relliable money-makers, since both the domestic and foreign marketkept demanding more dairy products (Ellis, 273). Price flucuations becameincreasingly important for the farming population between 1825 and 1860.
Pricesrose from the low level of the early 1820’s until the middle 1830’s and thefarmer’s shared in the general prosperity (271). Although the rapidindustrialization and urbanization of New York had a great deal to do with thesuccess of agricultural markets sporadic demand from aboard as a result of theIrish famine, the Crimean War and the repeal of the Corn Laws in England alsocontributed(North, 141). During this period Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York andVirginia, in that order were the leading wheat growing states. Between theyears 1840 and 1850 New York ranked first in the production of beef. The absence of politic party differences on issues related to the the growth ofdemocracy existed in regard to the foremost economic questions, there wasabsolutely no partisan division evident in the movement to incorporate newfinancial institutions; rather , the primary factors , which the legislatorsexamined, concerned value, feasibility, profit and the location within the state.
Dozens of turnpike proposals, most of which werebacked by the Republicans,passed the legislature; but the Federalists cooperated, seeing the chance forprofits. Prominent Federalists like John Rutherfurd, John Neilson, WilliamPaterson, John Bayard, and James Parkerinvested susstanial sums in theturnpike business. There were numerous Republicans who were also vitallyinterested in the turnpike business (Kass, 150). Bipartisan support alsoaccompanied plans for the construction of bridges and canals.
All of the partiescontained a large number of adherents from from every level of economic well-being in society. This helps to expain the absence of any clear-cut partydifferences on the major economic issues of the such as the chartering of banks,the protestive tariff, internal improvements, the development of manufacturing,and the promotion of superior agricultural techniques. Each politcal factionhad segments both pro and con on most of these questions, and, inall cases itwas opprtunism, the desire for profits, which was decisive in determining one’spolitical position on these economic issues(175). New York’s economic growth canalso be attributed to the invention of the cotton gin. Cotton had become a boomcrop in the south, however, plantation owners were either too engrossed in theproduction of their crops or too unschooled in business techiniques to handleits distribution.
Some just did not want to be bothered. This opened thee doorfor agents representing New York shipping firms who were only too happy to helpthem out – for a fee. This scheme not only earned the New York merchants ahandsome profit but also solved the problem that without cotton the ship ownerwould be hards preesed to find adequate cargoes for their return voyages. Andso it came about that New York in the nineteeth century became the nation’sforemost shipper of cotton(Allen, 108-109).
The cotton shipments entering NewYork harbor were brought to textile mills for processing. A group of New yorkcapitalist estashlished the Harmony Cotton Manufacturing Company in Cohoes. Aheavy investment of capital caused the rapid growth of the factory system, whichwas mass production with integration of processes and produced a high qualitycotton cloth as well as other textiles(Ellis, 266). This set the scene for an industrial society by widening the market,manufacturing increased rapidly throughout this period, although developmentvaried enormously from industry to industry.
Often developments were due toimprovements in technical processes such as the adoption of steam power andthe use of anthracite coal instead of charcoal by the iron industry. Themetallurgical industries emplyed thousands for skillful workers who produced avariety of iron and steel products, such as farm machinery, pistols, sewingmachines, clocks and stoves. These products were being produced using standardparts and multiple quantities(267). The iron industry made rapid progress as aresult of this processas well as the expansion of the railroad industry whichcreated increased demand for iron products. It can therefore be surmized thatoften growth in a one industry would cause increased demand for anotherindustry’s product, hence the boom of both industries.
The growth ofmanufacturing was the main impetus to expansion , the industrial base broadenedduring this period, reflecting the overall improvement in factor endowments formanufacturing. Equally important was the cost decline in transportation, whichopened up new sites for manufacturing development and reduced transport costsfor existing firms (North, 208). Production increases required a retail market. In November of 1858, R. H.
Macy established a department store in New York Citysuccessfully implementing a fixed price policy on a large scale developed bysmall New York stores since 1840 establishing a n American retail sales custom(Spann, 125). Some additional elements that should mentioned include the founding of the NewYork Tribune by Horace Greely, the development of the telegraph by Samuel Morse,the colaboration of six New York newspapers who joined to pay telegragh costs offoreign news relayed from Boston, and the establishment of a New Yorkclearinghouse to facilitate banking operations. Research reveals that the reasons for the success of New York’s businessenterprise between 1825 and 1860 were enumerous with no reason weighting moreheavily than another with the exception of as Ellis states that, “Plank roads,railroads, canals, steamships-all had revolutionary effects on the economy ofNew York. The predominately self-sufficent farmer of pioneer days was graduallytramnsformed into a specialized commercial farmer sensitive to every shift inthe markets. The isolation of many rural communities was breaking down ascitzensand goods flowed freely in and out.
Merchants in both the upstae andmetropolitan region, recognizing the crucial role of canals and railroads,looked with satisfaction upon the finest and most actively expandingtransportation network in the country. New York grew steadily in population,wealth, and trade largely to the splendid system of water and railtransportation promoted by its citizens in this period. “, but all entwinding tocreate a boom of business expansion during this period. It appeared as if wewere developing not only as a state but as a civilized nation whenever thisdevelopment would be curtailed by the onsloat of a civil war. Works CitedAllen, Oliver E. New York, New York: A History of the World’s Most Exhilaratingand Challenging City.
New York: Macmillan, 1990. Ellis, David M. , et al. A History of New York State.
Ithaca: Cornell UP, 1967. Kass, Alvin. Politics in New York State, 1800 -1830. Syracuse: Syracuse UP,1965. North, Douglas C. The Economic Growth of the United States, 1790-1860.
NewYork: Norton, 1966. Spann, Edward K. The New Metropolis: New York City, 1840-1857. New York:Columbia UP, 1981.