Why was it so important for John Rutherford that the goods and agricultural products produced in Kentucky, Indiana, Ohio, and the Great Lakes region flow through western New York state?

It was important for John Rutherford that goods and agricultural products produced in the Midwest flow through western New York state because he believed they would bring trade and economic prosperity to the state.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

In an 1825 essay titled "Facts and Observations in Relation to the Origin and Completion of the Erie Canal," John Rutherford understood the importance of the flow of goods from the Midwest through New York to the state's economic growth and well-being. He saw having an efficient system of water...

See
This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Get 48 Hours Free Access

In an 1825 essay titled "Facts and Observations in Relation to the Origin and Completion of the Erie Canal," John Rutherford understood the importance of the flow of goods from the Midwest through New York to the state's economic growth and well-being. He saw having an efficient system of water travel as providing the competitive edge New York needed, writing:

The [Erie] canal will then be in complete order to receive the trade of the western States, and the inhabitants of those States, gratified and delighted with the improved facilities and accommodations, will not seek other routes to the tide water, but cheerfully bend their course to the Hudson.

Rutherford knew that one way or another, in these days before railroads, the western states would use a water route to get goods to population centers in the east. He located competition for a route east from the Susquehanna river and also from Baltimore, which has a large inland port. Whichever state won the competition could charge tolls for water transport and get the goods to their own markets. This state was very likely to prosper. Therefore, Rutherford was a great enthusiast for New York getting a big share of this market by offering an attractive and easy-to-use route.

Rutherford also envisioned the Erie canal trade route as an insurance policy for New York against crop failure on the East Coast, noting that in this case, food could be quickly brought in from the Midwestern states to feed the local population. Rutherford also exuberantly saw in the water routes a robust commercial intercourse with all sorts of people, writing:

thousands of families whose knowledge of the country extends only a short distance, would, as in China, become temporary inhabitants of the water. They would visit the ocean, the most populous city of the United States, and the emporium of the commerce of the Western Hemisphere. ...

Waterways connecting New York to the west would, in Rutherford's vision, only bring prosperity to the state.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team