For a number of reasons, business enterprise in New York grew by leaps andbounds between 1825 and 1860. New York’s growth between the years 1825 and 1860can be attributed to a number of factors. These include but cannot be limited tothe construction of the Erie Canal, the invention of the telegraph, thedeveloped of the railroads, the establishment of Wall Street and banking, thetextile, shipping, agriculture and newpaper industries, the development of steampower and the use of iron products.
On October 26, 1825 the Erie Canal wasopened. The canal immediately became an important commercial route connectingthe East with the Ohio and Mississippi Valleys. With tht time of travel cut toone-third and the cost of shipping freight cut to one-tenthof the previousfigures, commerce via the canal soon made New York City the chief port of theAtlantic. The growing urban population and the contruction of canals, railroadsand factories stimulated the demand for raw materials and food stuffs. In 1836four-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.Order now
Thefarmer become a shrewed businessaman of sorts as he tended to produce whateverproducts would leave him the greatest profit margin. The rise of the dairyindustry was by far the most significant development in the agricultural historyof the state between 1825 and 1860. Farmers discovered that cows were their mostrelliable money-makers, since both the domestic and foreign market keptdemanding more dairy products (Ellis, 273). Price flucuations becameincreasingly important for the farming population between 1825 and 1860. Pricesrose from the low level of the early 1820’s until the middle 1830’s and thefarmer’s shared in the general prosperity (271). Although the rapidindustrialization and urbanization of New York had a great deal to do with thesuccess of agricultural markets sporadic demand from aboard as a result of theIrish famine, the Crimean War and the repeal of the Corn Laws in England alsocontributed(North, 141).
During this period Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York andVirginia, in that order were the leading wheat growing states. Between the years1840 and 1850 New York ranked first in the production of beef. The absence ofpolitic party differences on issues related to the the growth of democracyexisted in regard to the foremost economic questions, there was absolutely nopartisan division evident in the movement to incorporate new financialinstitutions; rather , the primary factors , which the legislators examined,concerned value, feasibility, profit and the location within the state. Dozensof turnpike proposals, most of which werebacked by the Republicans, passed thelegislature; but the Federalists cooperated, seeing the chance for profits. Prominent Federalists like John Rutherfurd, John Neilson, William Paterson, JohnBayard, and James Parker invested susstanial sums in the turnpike business.
There were numerous Republicans who were also vitally interested in the turnpikebusiness (Kass, 150). Bipartisan support also accompanied plans for theconstruction of bridges and canals. All of the parties contained a large numberof adherents from from every level of economic well-being in society. This helpsto expain the absence of any clear-cut party differences on the major economicissues of the such as the chartering of banks, the protestive tariff, internalimprovements, the development of manufacturing, and the promotion of superioragricultural techniques. Each politcal faction had segments both pro and con onmost of these questions, and, inall cases it was opprtunism, the desire forprofits, which was decisive in determining one’s political position on theseeconomic issues(175).
New York’s economic growth can also be attributed to theinvention of the cotton gin. Cotton had become a boom crop in the south,however, plantation owners were either too engrossed in the production of theircrops or too unschooled in business techiniques to handle its distribution. Somejust did not want to be bothered. This opened thee door for agents representingNew 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 alsosolved the problem that without cotton the ship owner would be hards preesed tofind adequate cargoes for their return voyages. And so it came about that NewYork in the nineteeth century became the nation’s foremost shipper ofcotton(Allen, 108-109). The cotton shipments entering New York harbor werebrought to textile mills for processing. A group of New york capitalistestashlished the Harmony Cotton Manufacturing Company in Cohoes.
A heavyinvestment of capital caused the rapid growth of the factory system, which wasmass production with integration of processes and produced a high quality cottoncloth as well as other textiles(Ellis, 266). This set the scene for anindustrial society by widening the market, manufacturing increased rapidlythroughout this period, although development varied enormously from industry toindustry. Often developments were due to improvements in technical processessuch as the adoption of steam power and the use of anthracite coal instead ofcharcoal by the iron industry. The metallurgical industries emplyed thousandsfor skillful workers who produced a variety of iron and steel products, such asfarm machinery, pistols, sewing machines, clocks and stoves.
These products werebeing produced using standard parts and multiple quantities(267). The ironindustry made rapid progress as a result of this processas well as the expansionof the railroad industry which created increased demand for iron products. Itcan therefore be surmized that often growth in a one industry would causeincreased demand for another industry’s product, hence the boom of bothindustries. The growth of manufacturing was the main impetus to expansion , theindustrial base broadened during this period, reflecting the overall improvementin factor endowments for manufacturing. Equally important was the cost declinein transportation, which opened up new sites for manufacturing development andreduced transport costs for existing firms (North, 208).
Production increasesrequired a retail market. In November of 1858, R. H. Macy established adepartment store in New York City successfully implementing a fixed price policyon a large scale developed by small New York stores since 1840 establishing a nAmerican retail sales custom (Spann, 125).
Some additional elements that shouldmentioned include the founding of the New York Tribune by Horace Greely, thedevelopment of the telegraph by Samuel Morse, the colaboration of six New Yorknewspapers who joined to pay telegragh costs of foreign news relayed fromBoston, and the establishment of a New York clearinghouse to facilitate bankingoperations. Research reveals that the reasons for the success of New York’sbusiness enterprise between 1825 and 1860 were enumerous with no reasonweighting more heavily than another with the exception of as Ellis states that,”Plank roads, railroads, canals, steamships-all had revolutionary effectson the economy of New York. The predominately self-sufficent farmer of pioneerdays was gradually tramnsformed into a specialized commercial farmer sensitiveto every shift in the markets. The isolation of many rural communities wasbreaking down as citzensand goods flowed freely in and out. Merchants in boththe upstae and metropolitan region, recognizing the crucial role of canals andrailroads, looked with satisfaction upon the finest and most actively expandingtransportation network in the country.
New York grew steadily in population,wealth, and trade largely to the splendid system of water and railtransportation promoted by its citizens in this period. “, but allentwinding to create a boom of business expansion during this period. Itappeared as if we were developing not only as a state but as a civilized nationwhenever this development would be curtailed by the onsloat of a civil war. BibliographyAllen, Oliver E. New York, New York: A History of the World’s MostExhilarating and Challenging City. New York: Macmillan, 1990.
Ellis, David M. ,et al. A History of New York State. Ithaca: Cornell UP, 1967.