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During the period from 1789 to 1815 our internal trade assumed but the humblest proportions. One writer remarks that "the striking thing about it is not that it was so large but that it was so small," while another observes that "it can hardly be said that anything deserving the name of interstate commerce existed in this country at the beginning of the 19th century." The population of the country in 1810 was only 7,239,000, settled almost entirely on a long, narrow strip along the Atlantic Coast, hardly larger than the State of Texas. Settlement beyond the Alleghanies was still on a limited scale, as the mountains proved to be an almost impassable barrier between the East and West. Nine-tenths of the population was engaged in agricultural pursuits. Such limited manufactures as existed were intended chiefly to supply the immediate neighborhood; and in most instances foreign markets were depended upon for the greater part of the necessary manufactures. In fact, the high cost of labor placed America at a disadvantage in the manufacture of such articles as linen, and cotton and woolen cloth, the cost of producing these commodities ranging from 20 to 50 per cent. higher than in England. Moreover, with the exception of river transportation for short distances, communication between the
* Clive Day, History of Commerce, p. 476. Edward A. Moseley, in Depew's One Hundred Years of American Commerce, chap. iv., p. 25.
States was by wagon on roads, which were notable for their muddy or dusty condition; and freight rates to destinations beyond the Alleghanies were so high as to preclude the transportation of all articles except those of the utmost necessity, such as salt, iron, etc.Travel by stagecoach," we are informed, "did not become of importance until well in the 19th century,
and postage rates for a single letter ranged from 8 to 25 cents, according to the distance, and mails were infrequent. Under such circumstances the internal trade prior to 1815 proved to be small, even when compared with the sparse population. Briefly summarized, the most notable features of this country's trade during this period were the following:
(1) The foreign trade was emphasized as much more important than the interstate trade. The New England trade consisted chiefly in lumber and fish, which were exported; and, while Massachusetts possessed manufactures of coarse cloth, the same could be imported more cheaply. In the same way New York, Pennsylvania and New Jersey, while producing a large variety of articles, such as oil, pitch, tar and provisions, disposed of the same locally and depended on the foreign market for the disposal of the balance; while Virginia and the South produced a limited number of articles only, especially
Clive Day, The History of Commerce, p. 473.
tobacco, which were destined for the oversea trade.
(2) The interstate trade of this period involved only a small volume and comparatively short haul, because the essential feature of the economic life of this period was the selfsufficiency of the household and the self-sufficiency of the town. Not only were local wants supplied by local production, but the variety of wants was surprisingly limited when compared with the number of wants now regarded as necessities of life.
(3) Such long distance internal trade as existed was conducted almost entirely by coastwise trading vessels, the tonnage in this trade increasing from 78,607 tons in 1789 to 477,971 in 1812. Some of the farm products and coarse cloth of the North were sent to Charleston to be exchanged for tobacco or bills on England. But such long hauls were comparatively rare. In the main, the coastwise tonnage was employed along short stretches of the coast, either for the purpose of collecting commodities at some large port, thence to be exported abroad, or for distributing goods from that port after they had been imported.
The period from 1815 to 1860 has been well named the era of " National Expansion." Instead of devoting their energies almost exclusively to building up the foreign trade, Americans then turned to the development of the unlimited resources of the interior. Even as late as 1815 the population was still confined mainly
to the Atlantic Coast, depending upon Europe and the West Indies for its trade, and the centre of population was still near Washington, D. C. By 1860, however, the centre of population had shifted near to Chillicothe, Ohio, and nearly the whole West to the Mississippi River was continuously settled. Even the plains beyond the Mississippi River to the Rocky Mountains were being dotted with settlements, and the Pacific Coast received such an influx of population between 1850 to 1860 as justified the giving of statehood to Oregon and California.
This spread of population throughout the country and the breaking in of enormous areas of fertile territory naturally implied that the days of the self-sufficiency of the household and town were over and that means of transportation would have to be developed to bring these widely separated areas together. Small production was to be replaced by large production, and the disadvantage of distance was to be counteracted by greater speed in transportation. Hence "National expansion "in this era meant expansion in the volume of production and trade and the extension of transportation facilities.
These two movements worked hand in hand, and in proportion as transportation facilities increased larger production became possible. At first the country devoted its energies to the development of the turnpike, the canal, and the river steamboat. In 1818 the
first stagecoach was driven from Cumberland to Wheeling, a distance of 130 miles. In 1812 steamboats made their appearance on the Mississippi River; by 1815 the ascent of the river became possible; and by 1817 the trip from New Orleans to Louisville could be made in 25 days, as compared with 90 days by barges. Whereas in 1818 only 20 steamboats were employed on the rivers of the West, by 1848 this number was increased to 1,200, and, as stated by Mr. Edward A. Moseley, the steam tonnage of the Mississippi Valley was larger than that of the whole British Empire.
Canal construction also began in earnest after 1815. In 1823 there was completed the canal from Lake Champlain to the Hudson River. The The Chesapeake and Ohio Canal, the Delaware and Chesapeake Canal, and the Union Canal, of Pennsylvania (intended to connect the Delaware and Susquehanna rivers), were all "forerunners" of the greatest of all the internal improvements up to this time - the Erie Canal, completed in 1825. The importance of these improvements is indicated by a consideration of freight rates and land values. The Erie Canal is said to have added $100,000,000 to the value of farm lands in New York alone. Freight rates from the West to the East were reduced from $25 to $15 per ton and the time from 20 to 8 days. Freight which formerly had gone overland from Ohio to Pittsburg and then to Philadelphia, at a cost of $20 to $25 a ton, now went
by way of the lakes and the caral to New York. The handicap to large internal trade prior to 1815 may also be illustrated by the steamboat freight charges on the Mississippi River from New Orleans to Memphis, which are said to have averaged as high as 6 cents a pound for light goods and 42 cents for heavy goods. It should be added that by 1848 Lake Erie was connected by canal with the Ohio River and Lake Michigan with the Mississippi, and by 1855 the St. Mary's Falls Canal connected Lake Superior with the other lakes for boats of 12-foot draft.
In 1833 the South Carolina Railway (136 miles long) was completed; and in 1834 the completion of the Philadelphia and Columbia Railroad meant a continuous rail-canal route from Philadelphia to Pittsburg. By 1841 the Boston and Albany road was completed, and by 1842 was extended to Buffalo, thus marking the first interstate railroad and constituting, according to Mr. Moseley," the real beginning of interstate commerce " in this country. By 1850 the Eastern States possessed nearly 7,000 miles of railway line, although only about 1,000 miles existed west of the Alleghanies. By 1860 the railway mileage, however, had increased to 30,635 miles and the New York Central, Baltimore and Ohio, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Erie railroads connected the roads of the interior with the East, while other lines were being built to unite the Mississippi Valley with the Gulf. It may be
noted here that even in the South 10,000 miles of railway were constructed between 1840 and 1860, and that by 1860 every province of the South east of the Mississippi had been brought into railway communication with every other.
The effects of these increased transportation facilities on the volume of traffic were very marked. No data exists to prove comprehensively the growth of long-distance inland trade. For the traffic between the West and East, the port of New York became the great emporium; while for the traffic between the North and South, the port of New Orleans became the great centre. The growth of these two ports, depending on their receipts from the interior, will therefore serve to indicate at least inferentially increase in the volume of internal traffic during this period.
As regards the entire country, the foreign exports increased from $52,557,000 in 1815 to $400,122,000 in 1860 (over 660 per cent.), most of this increase occurring during the last 20 years. Of this amount New York in 1860 shared $120,630,955, 32 per cent. of the Nation's total exports, and 87 per cent. of those of the North Atlantic States. This dominant position New York assumed by being the centre from which radiated nearly all the great railways of the country connecting the East and West. It is important to note that between 1840 and 1850 the railway mileage of the country increased from 2,818 to 9,021 miles,
while between 1850 and 1860, 21,000 miles of railway were constructed, effectively connecting New York, Boston and Philadelphia by trunk lines with the leading producing centres of the Mississippi and Ohio Valleys and increasing the exports from these ports from $31,203,000 in 1830 to $139,672,000 in 1860 (347 per cent.). These statistics of growth in the foreign trade are offered as a barometric index from which to infer the increase in the Nation's internal commerce. But we may draw further inferences from the statistical evidence of growth in the Nation's leading lines of industry. Within the 20 years from 1840 to 1860 the country's production of corn increased over 120 per cent.; of wheat nearly 100 per cent.; and of tobacco 98 per cent.; while the exports of agricultural products increased by about 150 per cent. While in 1840 the consumption of cotton by our textile mills amounted to only 120,000,000 pounds, this consumption increased to 423,000,000 pounds by 1860, or 244 per cent. During the same 20 years, the output of our woolen mills increased by 247 per cent., and of our iron mills by 343 per cent.*
Just as New York was greatly favored in the West for Eastern traffic, so New Orleans ranked as the great export centre of the South during anti-bellum days, chiefly because
*These statistical data are taken from the manuscript prepared by the author for the Carnegie Foundation, on "Foreign Trade of the United States by Ports."
of improved water transportation on the Mississippi and its tributaries. Even after New York received its advantageous position through the construction of the Erie Canal, New Orleans continued to grow absolutely, although relatively, when compared with New York, there was a decline. In 1842 her share in the movement of raw agricultural crops and milled breadstuffs coming from all sections of the Mississippi Valley exceeded $45,700,000 in value. By 1844 this amount had increased to $60,000,000; in 1846 to $77,000,000; and in 1850 to nearly $97,000,000. The The success of New Orleans caused nearly every leading Southern port to reach out for the internal trade. Charleston constructed a railroad to Augusta with the object of attracting the traffic of interior Georgia away from Savannah. Savannah, in turn, retaliated by constructing the Central of Georgia Railroad to Macon, which line was extended later as far north as Chattanooga. As explained elsewhere,*" all of the chief ports of the South were reaching out with railroads for the trade of the interior cotton belt, and it was not long until Charleston, Savannah, Mobile, New Orleans, Baltimore, Richmond and Norfolk each had its special railroad. At the same time a railway line was constructed parallel to the coast, extending from Washington through Rich
*S. S. Huebner, The Interstate Commcrce of the South, in The South in the Building of the Nation, vol. v., p. 410,
mond, Raleigh, Augusta and Montgomery to Mobile and New Orleans. The Shenandoah-Tennessee Valley, the most handicapped of the economic provinces of the South as far as transportation was concerned, was also connected on the one hand with the North, East and, on the other, with the coasts of Virginia and the South." In the coastwise trade the tonnage no longer was employed chiefly along short stretches of the coast. Instead, long-distance hauls became common, especially between New England and the South. It is estimated that in 1860 New England sent annually to the South by coastwise voyage about $60,000,000 worth of merchandise, consisting chiefly of manufactures, fish, and molasses. The South, on the other hand, is estimated to have sent to New England by coastwise voyage about $55,000,000 worth of products, consisting chiefly of cotton, naval stores, hemp, flour, hemp, flour, and animal products.
Whereas the half-century prior to 1860 has been characterized as the period of "National expansion," the years following 1860 have been well described as the period of "National development." It is true that the population continued to penetrate into