The Market Revolution
The antebellum era held many beneficial innovations for the United States. The Market Revolution led to improvements in both travel and technology that guided America to become a more productive nation. More opportunities became available to all Americans which led to growth and prosperity of the people.
The Market Revolution was beneficial to America in every way possible. When the term “Market Revolution” is heard, the first thing many people associate it with is Eli Whitney’s Cotton Gin. Whitney’s invention was the first major innovation, revolutionizing both northern manufacturing and southern agriculture.
Since the job was previously done by hand, the cotton gin produced a higher supply of cotton at a faster rate. Cotton grew from 750,000 bales per year in 1830 to 2. 5 million bales per year in 1850. America became a major supplier of cotton for the British and provided two-thirds of the world’s cotton supply. The cotton gin was among the most beneficial innovations in the antebellum era. Whitney also invented interchangeable parts in 1797 that provided easier compatibility of different parts of muskets. Many manufacturers soon began using his invention for their own benefits.
Because of the large success of his innovations, Eli Whitney was a very important figure of the Market Revolution. Richard Fulton’s invention of the steamboat revolutionized water travel in the early 1800’s. Steamboats were able to travel up and downstream requiring little or no effort from those onboard. Mariners could leave port any time because they did not have to rely on winds to get them to their destination. Shipping was much cheaper and easier for the Southerners because they did not have to ship products around Florida and up the Eastern seaboard because steamboats had the power to travel up the Mississippi.
Buffalo robes, cotton, rice, and other products could be shipped via the Mississippi River. From John James Audubon’s Missouri River Journals, he explained how “They had ten thousand buffalo robes on the four boats;” (282). The Market Revolution made water travel easier, which greatly enhanced trade and the economy, therefore benefiting all of America. The Erie Canal was the first of many canals in the North that made water travel much easier for Americans. The part of the canal being built in the town of Lockport was said to be “seven miles in length, and partly through solid rock, at an average depth of twenty feet. (279). Thought the canal was not very wide and deep, it made trade easier between western farmers and eastern manufacturers. The canal was very beneficial to the northern residents of America because the North was a more modernized and urban place than the South, relying heavily on trade with the west. The South had no needs for the canal due to their farming capabilities. Southerners relied on Atlantic shipping to receive goods and transport cotton to the North. By 1840, one million barrels of flour were being shipped via the Erie Canal.
The Erie Canal was a great innovation that showed progress of development in the nation. Water travel was not the only way of travel revolutionized during the Market Revolution. Land travel was greatly improved by the first railroad being built in the late 1820’s. It was a quicker, cheaper, and much easier way of transporting goods. Railroads could get you from one place to another in a very short amount of time, therefore being “very pleasant to people in a hurry. ” (280). In the 1840’s, there was the same length of railroads as there was canals, therefore railroad travel was becoming very popular in America.
In 1860, eleven different widths of railroad tracks were being used, limiting the use of various trains on various tracks. The problem was later fixed giving trains more places to travel. Railroads gave the people of America an accessible way to find success. In Lowell, a small town outside of Boston Massachusetts, a factory was built in 1823 called “Lowell Mills. ” The factory produced over one-hundred times more yards of cloth from 1815 to 1840. The social system regulated by the manufacturers was of interest to many people living in the area due to their system of wages.
Lowell Mills employed mostly young women and paid them a decent salary. Though they were paid more than the average women, it was still less than most men. Women’s educational and work experience combined made them more obedient than their superiors wished, thus resulting in many women protesting the decrease in wages. Josephine L. Baker explains “the money we earn comes promptly; more so than in any other situation;” (293). The Lowell System greatly enhanced the employee to company relationship, resulting in a greater range of opportunities for women as well as increasing Americas’ cotton supply.
In 1838, a man named John Deere invented the steel plow in Grand Detour, Illinois. Many farmers in the Great Plains used the device to their benefit because it quickly broke tough soil. Rich soil in the Middle West caused the wood plows to break, therefore Deere knew steel would be a good alternative. Farmers were able to provide more crops for their consumers and family. By 1855, Deere’s factory sold more than 10,000 plows. John Deere’s innovation led to a great array of farming equipment, which greatly benefited all Americans during the antebellum era.
Bigger cities and the improvements in transportation attracted many immigrants to America. They saw an opportunity to make money without having to invest in any land. Many American families turned to immigrants for cheap labor during the Market Revolution as well. Neither the German or Irish were treated as equals with Americans, but the German were generally more accepted in America than the Irish. John Francis Maguire explains that Irish immigrants “were generally poor, and after defraying their first expenses on landing had little left to enable them to push their way into the country. (297). Though the immigrants were not treated fairly, they were all in search of the American dream. Many immigrants found success in America and helped revolutionize the industries during the Market Revolution. The Market Revolution made everything easier for Americans as well as gave many immigrants and women success. America showed progress in becoming a more powerful and independent nation during this period. All of America benefited from the different innovations such as the cotton gin, telegraph, and new methods of travel. It was clear that America was on the path of success.