Growth Of New York States Business From 1825 To 1860
Growth of New York State’s Business from 1825 to 1860For 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. 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).
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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
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
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
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
Kass, Alvin. Politics in New York State, 1800 -1830. Syracuse:
Syracuse UP, 1965.
North, Douglas C. The Economic Growth of the United States, 1790-1860.
New York: Norton, 1966.
Spann, Edward K. The New Metropolis: New York City, 1840-1857. New
York: Columbia UP, 1981.