How did the American economy change during the Era of Good Feelings? What advantages and disadvantages came with the rise of industrial production? Who benefited? Who did not benefit? How did these changes simultaneously unite and divide the North and the South?

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During the Era of Good Feelings, an economic transformation known as the Market Revolution occurred. During this time in the early nineteenth century, communication and transportation improved, making the United States more interconnected and facilitating the rise of industry, commerce, and manufacturing. Senator Henry Clay's American System helped prompt the rise of the Market Revolution by proposing what are called internal improvements. Essentially the government would fund the building of roads, bridges, canals, and other modes of transportation. In addition to these internal improvements, the federal government would raise tariffs (taxes on imported goods), in order to protect and promote American industries and businesses, and would support a national bank that would make commerce easier.

One major development of the Market Revolution was the turnpike, essentially an early version of the highway. Turnpikes made travel between cities easier and made overland trade and commerce faster. In 1825 the Erie Canal was completed, linking what was then considered East and West and transforming New York City into the commercial and banking capital of the US. The use of steam engines made canals, steamships, and railroads the preferred, faster, and more reliable form of transportation.

Another important transformation during the Market Revolution was the increased independence of the US economy during and after the War of 1812. Because the war disrupted trade, US manufacturing increased to meet demand. This manufacturing continued after the war and led to the rise of factories. Men like Samuel Slater and Francis Lowell introduced the British factory system to the US. These early factories, or mills, were built along rivers in order to utilize water power, and they mainly produced textiles. They also employed young, unmarried women and children.

Consumers benefitted from the lower prices and increased variety of goods during the Market Revolution, and bankers and manufacturers in urban centers began reaping profits from the increased production and demand. However, the Market Revolution also signaled the rise of child labor, and factory work became increasingly oppressive. Wages were often low, hours were long, and conditions could be dangerous, especially for young children. The Market Revolution also signaled the beginning of the end of Jefferson's dream of an agrarian nation in which white males would become economically independent by owning and farming their own land. During and after the Market Revolution, while farming and agriculture continued, increased importance was placed on industry, finance, and commerce.

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