Developments in transportation, rather than in manufacturing and agriculture, sparked American growth in the first half of the 19th century; moreover, it was the booming railroad industry, the country massive turnpikes, and the canals promoting water travel that sparked American growth in the first half of the 19th century. Railroads had been in the making for years, and they just kept improving, thus improving the ease of news spread and travel throughout the United States. The turnpikes going from city to city brought ease in trading goods and transportation.
In addition, the canals, such as the Erie Canal, promoted the thought of water travel leading to many key inventions and vehicles. Although developments in manufacturing and agriculture had a profound effect upon American economic growth in the first half of the nineteenth century, developments in transportation had a larger effect, as well as serving as the catalyst for the developments in manufacturing and agriculture.
Railroads made the west accessible. They encouraged the migration and settlement of the western United States. Because of the railroads assisting people in moving out west, a need formed for new agricultural methods and tools to farm in the new environment. The Gold Rush in California only grew so popular due to the railroads bringing ease of travel to people heading out west. The Railroad industry also opened up the western areas of the United States to business, industry, and trade.
It continued to influence developments of industry, so more products could be made, shipped, and sold. The railroad system also created the demand for new modes of communication, such as the telegraph, because there was more distance to cover, thus opening a whole new market in the communication industry. One of the most important achievements the railroad’s brought to the United States was the introduction of time zones to accommodate for the inter-state trade.
By 1820, turnpikes connected almost all major cities in the United States. They facilitated trade between areas of the country that were previously isolated, thus raising the economy in certain places. Turnpikes also provide a quicker and easier mode of transportation for people, therefore helping to decrease the standard of economic self-sufficiency. This meant people were less likely to be stuck growing their own food, making their own clothes, etc. because they now had a much easier trip to town where they could buy these goods.
Canals became popular from about 1815-1840. The most famous canal was the Erie Canal. It opened an inexpensive and quick way to travel from the east to the west. Before the Erie Canal only the east coast had been readily accessible by water. Canals promoted trade between the eastern and western regions, sparking industrial development in the formerly farm-oriented west. Canals made New York City a major trade center. They allowed New York to prosper and continue to grow as an industrial powerhouse, creating more jobs and factories. This is what gave New York the advantage over cities like Baltimore and Philadelphia. The canals also promoted the development of the steamship, created first by Robert Fulton.
All in all, the statement, “developments in transportation, rather than in manufacturing and agriculture, sparked American growth in the first half of the 19th century” is a valid statement. The advancements made in transportation is what led to the advancements made in manufacturing and agriculture. If it weren’t for the railroads, turnpikes, and canals, most of the manufacturing and agriculture developments would not have been made, and America would have been stuck in the past.