How did the Transportation Revolution between 1800 and 1840 affect America?

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pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The Transportation Revolution in America during this time had a tremendous effect on the country.  The most important impact was in the fact that it brought about a commercial economy in much of the US.

Before the Transportation Revolution, the US was really divided into a lot of very small markets.  There was no good way to transport goods within the US.  It would cost as much to bring a given weight of goods a few miles inland from a port as it cost to bring those goods all the way from Europe to the port.  This meant that there was little trade within the US.

This also meant that most people did not really participate in a large, commercial economy.  People (most people were farmers) grew and made almost everything they needed.  They would trade for just a very few things.  This made them largely self-sufficient.

The Transportation Revolution changed this.  It connected many of the parts of the US (though not as thoroughly as would happen after the introduction of railroads).  This meant that more and more people started to work making things to sell to other people.  A farmer in upstate New York could now just grow wheat, for example, and sell it to people in the city.  The farmer would use the cash to buy things that he needed.  This was a huge change.  It meant that people were no longer self-sufficient.  They no longer made all the things they needed.

This change led to hugely important economic and social changes in the US.

thetall eNotes educator| Certified Educator

After moving west to take advantage of better agricultural conditions, the settlers realized a need to develop a faster transport network connecting them to the east. The need for the faster means of transport was to ensure their products could reach people in other parts much faster.

The settlers started by constructing turnpikes that connected different areas. The roads made it easier to travel by land and helped the growth of industrialization through skill and knowledge exchange that occurred at a faster rate. Tolls paid along the road helped in the maintenance of the roads and establishment of towns.

Although turnpikes provided better means of transport, the channel was still slow, forcing the settlers to look into developing a water channel. Rafting was ineffective, and the situation led to the development of steam-powered boats that could travel upstream. The new vessels reduced the time it took for people and products to travel.

The railroad completed the connection between the east and the west and made Manifest Destiny an achievable idea. The idea was fueled by the settlers' desire to create a great nation stretching from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean and beyond.

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