Comparison Tables: New American Nation (1800s-1820s)  - Essentials


Abbreviations:  K = thousand (example: 250K = 250,000)

M = million (example: 2M = 2,000,000)

B = billion (example: 2B = 2,000,000,000


Demographics: What were the basic population patterns?





Question to Consider

- What was the population growth from 1800 to 1820s? Where was it distributed? What was the new jump off point for Americans? What was happening to the cities?

Most were farmers (84% in 1810)—growth of total population—1800-1810-1820s 5.3M à 7.2M à 9.6M

1810 20% black slaves


Movement of population to West TO the Mississippigrowth of population in West:

- 1790—100K of 4M total population

- 1810—1M of 7M population


Ohio and Monongahela Rivers—in Northwest

    Cincinnati, jump off point, with Pittsburgh also a commercial center


City growth was unplanned for—led to increasing growth of disease and disruption

- 1800—97%—areas under 8K—limited % of population living IN cities

- 1790-1830—growth in number of cities 8 à 45 (with some in the US interior)


1790-1830, growth of size of cities and density of population:

- Philadelphia 40K à 160K

- NYC 30K à 200K (Why the growth? Erie Canal = connection of the West to the Atlantic and thus to world markets)

Initial colonial settlement in areas that drain to the Atlantic—what is implication with new settlement patterns?

- Where was King Cotton moving?





Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana (“Black Belts”) had large slave populations, moving with the plantation system from SE to SW.


With the cotton gin, cotton moved inland and became King Cotton, the No. 1 export. 1817-1840 460K à 1.35M cotton bales.

When your region is an exporter with few cities, what kind of transportation will you fund?

- What was the motivation for movement into the Southwest (Mexican, formerly Spanish) territories?


Mexico: revolution against Spain (1821; monarchy to 1824; 1824 republic)


1820s—Trade with Santa Fe—US merchants’ manufactured goods desired over Mexican goods in this region



- Where will the next areas for conquest be?

- How is manufacturing being wedded to expansion?

-What is the hierarchy of quality of manufactured goods in this region?

- What was the motivation for movement into the Far West territories?

British manufactured goods sought by Indians, not American goods—Americans traded alcohol for furs

Over-trapping; burning up both men and animal supply


Among US companies, 1810s, 1820s:

- John Jacob Astor’s American Fur Company—1812+

- Andrew & William Ashley’s Rocky Mountain Fur Co., 1822+


- What will the next areas of conquest be?

- What is the hierarchy of quality of manufactured goods in this region?


Economy: How did they make a living? What was the infrastructure for their economy?





Question to Consider

- What did the Napoleonic war do to prices of farm products and to land prices and what role did the productivity of new farm land have in this situation?

Northeast with insufficient grain—low  yield per acreage yield and large non-farming populations


Northwest previously marketed whiskey to northeast because of transportation costs.

New farmlands were more productive. Example of corn per acre:

- MD—only 10 bushels (old)

- KY—40 bushels (new)


1790 v. 1810 – acres in production = acres for last 200 years

What are the implications?

War in Europe from-1790s to Napoleonic Wars (to 1815) disrupted farming so Europe imported US agricultural goods.


US planted more and more; bought more land on government-backed easy credit (land acts—1800, 1804) plus banks. War over—no money, but still owed for the land. Panic of 1819 tightened credit by banks (national and state) and then foreclosures. American view: It’s the bank!


Knowledge—patents 1802-1815—100 for distilling

What happens with easy credit? (Rule of thumb: people don’t see a pattern until it’s over.)


- How did the surplus of farm products change the labor market?

Grain became surplus; then Northeastern farmers became surplus, thus people were cheap labor for factories


Nationally, less than 10% workers in factories

Birth of slaves = surplus in old South, with sale to new South. Richmond and New Orleans main markets


There was little consolidation of population in the South to yield industrialization


- How was King Cotton part of the economy of the North? What did knowledge (Samuel Slater, Eli Whitney) have to do with this economic change?

Samuel Slater (British knowledge to US)—1790—RI spinning mill—used cotton


Lowell (Francis Cabot)—1813 MA

Spun and wove cloth—first factory for both; coarse cloth and minimal skill of workers

Cotton gin—Eli Whitney (New England tutor in GA—1793)—cotton without seeds grew only on coast. Gin made inland cotton marketable.


Crop 8X size in 1 decade

What happens to workers with minimal skills?


What is happening to North and South?

Protective tariff in 1816—cotton cloth.

- What was role of the merchant marine? What does the phrase merchant marine mean?

US = Major neutral shipping nation during Napoleonic Wars

US tonnage—

- 1789 121K

- 1807 1,116K—Notice effect of war


Merchant marine—commercial shipping of a nation


NE merchant class couldn’t make its money by export, partly because of British competition. Shifted their money (capital) from trade to manufacture.


And also shifted from NE advocating low tariffs useful to importers to advocating high tariffs to protect manufacturers.








Question to Consider

- What was happening in steamboat-based transportation—a key infrastructure?

Hudson River—1807—Robert Fulton paddleboat/steamboat (Clermont)—passenger vessel

Pittsburgh to New Orleans—1811-1812

1816—to Ohio

Transatlantic steamships—1st 1819—the Savannah (to Liverpool).


Water travel from 1810 on—Example: Cheaper from PA down Ohio/Mississippi to New Orleans (2100 miles) than travel 200 miles overland to Philadelphia. Water travel very low cost, but land cost 1 cent/lb/100 miles


Expert in steam engines: Robert Fulton and others.

- Why did this steamboat-based infrastructure matter to the economy?


Made possible to sell up- or down-stream. Tennessee and Cumberland valleys:

- got food from Ohio

- sold cotton to New Orleans


Shifted more migration west; cash crop agriculture


- What was happening in canal-based transportation—a key infrastructure? What did knowledge have to do with this economic change?

Canal-building—Erie.  Innovation: pulleys, new limestone 40’ wide/4’ deep locks. Some personnel from West Point


Canal age—1820s + (Erie 350 miles—started 1817—NY to Chicago—largest construction project for the time)

Considered canal Philadelphia, Baltimore—shipping costs down to 1/12th

Considering canal—Richmond and Charleston

Why does the North need and value canals?


What do they sell? When do they sell? What is their land like?

How did the change in transportation have consequences on concentration of manufacturing of both flour and alcohol?

West, 1825—comparison of value with 1,000 bushels:

- If sold as corn, barely covered shipping costs

- If corn became hogs, $120

- If corn became whiskey, $470


But with canal, profit the same for the three versions of corn. Flour milling along Erie—selling east.


Weak NE lands out of production and their workers out of farming. Concentration of industry (including liquor).


What is the direction of trade in the North?




- What was happening in land-based transportation—a key infrastructure? What did knowledge have to do with this economic change?

Turnpike (toll road, private road charging fee; chartered by state), Lancaster Turnpike—Pittsburgh to Philadelphia


1807—Jefferson administration—national road along Potomac—Ohio Rivers. In 1811-1818 extended from Cumberland, MD to Wheeling, VA.


Horsepower comparison:

- 4 horses can move 1 ton in wagon on regular road

- 4 horses can move 1.5 tons in wagon on turnpike

- 4 horses can move 100 tons in boat in canal



- What happened to manufacturing?

Interchangeable parts invented, but lack technology to do effectively


1810-1840, value of manufacturing increased 3X—output increased,

but increased cost to be entrepreneur (example to open print shop $1K in 1817 à $4K in 1841, so fewer people able to start businesses). 


“Putting out” system for manufacturing.

Who is working in these factories?



Copyright C. J. Bibus, Ed.D. 2003 – 2010


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