New York Growth Essay

For a number of reasons, business enterprise in New York grew by leaps and
bounds between 1825 and 1860. New York’s growth between the years 1825 and 1860
can be attributed to a number of factors. These include but cannot be limited to
the construction of the Erie Canal, the invention of the telegraph, the
developed of the railroads, the establishment of Wall Street and banking, the
textile, shipping, agriculture and newpaper industries, the development of steam
power and the use of iron products. On October 26, 1825 the Erie Canal was
opened. The canal immediately became an important commercial route connecting
the East with the Ohio and Mississippi Valleys. With tht time of travel cut to
one-third and the cost of shipping freight cut to one-tenthof the previous
figures, commerce via the canal soon made New York City the chief port of the
Atlantic. The growing urban population and the contruction of canals, railroads
and factories stimulated the demand for raw materials and food stuffs. In 1836
four-fifths of the tonnage over the Erie Canal came from western New York
(North, 105). Much of this cargo was in the form of agriculture goods. The
farmer become a shrewed businessaman of sorts as he tended to produce whatever
products would leave him the greatest profit margin. The rise of the dairy
industry was by far the most significant development in the agricultural history
of the state between 1825 and 1860. Farmers discovered that cows were their most
relliable money-makers, since both the domestic and foreign market kept
demanding more dairy products (Ellis, 273). Price flucuations became
increasingly important for the farming population between 1825 and 1860. Prices
rose from the low level of the early 1820’s until the middle 1830’s and the
farmer’s shared in the general prosperity (271). Although the rapid
industrialization and urbanization of New York had a great deal to do with the
success of agricultural markets sporadic demand from aboard as a result of the
Irish famine, the Crimean War and the repeal of the Corn Laws in England also
contributed(North, 141). During this period Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York and
Virginia, in that order were the leading wheat growing states. Between the years
1840 and 1850 New York ranked first in the production of beef. The absence of
politic party differences on issues related to the the growth of democracy
existed in regard to the foremost economic questions, there was absolutely no
partisan division evident in the movement to incorporate new financial
institutions; rather , the primary factors , which the legislators examined,
concerned value, feasibility, profit and the location within the state. Dozens
of turnpike proposals, most of which werebacked by the Republicans, passed the
legislature; but the Federalists cooperated, seeing the chance for profits.

Prominent Federalists like John Rutherfurd, John Neilson, William Paterson, John
Bayard, and James Parker invested susstanial sums in the turnpike business.

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There were numerous Republicans who were also vitally interested in the turnpike
business (Kass, 150). Bipartisan support also accompanied plans for the
construction of bridges and canals. All of the parties contained a large number
of adherents from from every level of economic well-being in society. This helps
to expain the absence of any clear-cut party differences on the major economic
issues of the such as the chartering of banks, the protestive tariff, internal
improvements, the development of manufacturing, and the promotion of superior
agricultural techniques. Each politcal faction had segments both pro and con on
most of these questions, and, inall cases it was opprtunism, the desire for
profits, which was decisive in determining one’s political position on these
economic issues(175). New York’s economic growth can also be attributed to the
invention of the cotton gin. Cotton had become a boom crop in the south,
however, plantation owners were either too engrossed in the production of their
crops or too unschooled in business techiniques to handle its distribution. Some
just did not want to be bothered. This opened thee door for agents representing
New York shipping firms who were only too happy to help them out – for a fee.

This scheme not only earned the New York merchants a handsome profit but also
solved the problem that without cotton the ship owner would be hards preesed to
find adequate cargoes for their return voyages. And so it came about that New
York in the nineteeth century became the nation’s foremost shipper of
cotton(Allen, 108-109). The cotton shipments entering New York harbor were
brought to textile mills for processing. A group of New york capitalist
estashlished the Harmony Cotton Manufacturing Company in Cohoes. A heavy
investment of capital caused the rapid growth of the factory system, which was
mass production with integration of processes and produced a high quality cotton
cloth as well as other textiles(Ellis, 266). This set the scene for an
industrial society by widening the market, manufacturing increased rapidly
throughout this period, although development varied enormously from industry to
industry. Often developments were due to improvements in technical processes
such as the adoption of steam power and the use of anthracite coal instead of
charcoal by the iron industry. The metallurgical industries emplyed thousands
for skillful workers who produced a variety of iron and steel products, such as
farm machinery, pistols, sewing machines, clocks and stoves. These products were
being produced using standard parts and multiple quantities(267). The iron
industry made rapid progress as a result of this processas well as the expansion
of the railroad industry which created increased demand for iron products. It
can therefore be surmized that often growth in a one industry would cause
increased demand for another industry’s product, hence the boom of both
industries. The growth of manufacturing was the main impetus to expansion , the
industrial base broadened during this period, reflecting the overall improvement
in factor endowments for manufacturing. Equally important was the cost decline
in transportation, which opened up new sites for manufacturing development and
reduced transport costs for existing firms (North, 208). Production increases
required a retail market. In November of 1858, R.H. Macy established a
department store in New York City successfully implementing a fixed price policy
on a large scale developed by small New York stores since 1840 establishing a n
American retail sales custom (Spann, 125). Some additional elements that should
mentioned include the founding of the New York Tribune by Horace Greely, the
development of the telegraph by Samuel Morse, the colaboration of six New York
newspapers who joined to pay telegragh costs of foreign news relayed from
Boston, and the establishment of a New York clearinghouse to facilitate banking
operations. Research reveals that the reasons for the success of New York’s
business enterprise between 1825 and 1860 were enumerous with no reason
weighting more heavily than another with the exception of as Ellis states that,
“Plank roads, railroads, canals, steamships-all had revolutionary effects
on the economy of New York. The predominately self-sufficent farmer of pioneer
days was gradually tramnsformed into a specialized commercial farmer sensitive
to every shift in the markets. The isolation of many rural communities was
breaking down as citzensand goods flowed freely in and out. Merchants in both
the upstae and metropolitan region, recognizing the crucial role of canals and
railroads, looked with satisfaction upon the finest and most actively expanding
transportation network in the country. New York grew steadily in population,
wealth, and trade largely to the splendid system of water and rail
transportation promoted by its citizens in this period.”, but all
entwinding to create a boom of business expansion during this period. It
appeared as if we were developing not only as a state but as a civilized nation
whenever this development would be curtailed by the onsloat of a civil war.

Allen, Oliver E. New York, New York: A History of the World’s Most
Exhilarating and Challenging City. New York: Macmillan, 1990. Ellis, David M.,
et al. A History of New York State. Ithaca: Cornell UP, 1967.


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