The four construction projects that set the stage

wausaubob

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For regional conflict:
1. The Erie Canal, was completed by 1825 and paid for by 1837. Despite the demand for labor on the project, slave labor was not used in a significant way. The fact that the massive engineering project was economically successful and made New York the dominant state in the United States was an example that made all other major internal improvements viable.
2. Stephen A. Douglas succeeded in getting the land grant funding mechanism for the Illinois Central Railroad. Chartered in 1851 and completed in 1856, it was the longest railroad in the world at the time. Its principal purpose was to create a mode of transportation that competed directly with the steamboat traffic on the Mississippi.
Railroads of course, are not dependent on the weather, and are faster than steamboats.
3. The bridge across the Mississippi River at Rock Island. It was completed April 21, 1856. This proved the viability of bridging the Mississippi and was a direct economic attack by state interests on the riverboat traffic.
It led to the famous legal confrontation which was significant in Abraham Lincoln's legal career.
4. The Sault St. Marie locks opened in 1855, which gave the nation access to the Lake Superior iron ranges.
All four projects were part of the rapid growth of the population of the northern states. All four presaged the dominance of the railroads and emerging significance of the iron industry.
The Democratic resistance to internal improvements, and dreamy conception of a citizenry made up of yoeman farmers, (dominated by rich plantation owners who worked all the good land) had failed and the United States was ready to move to the future without that sectional resistance.
 
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photoman475

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I can go along with this, but I think it needs to be expanded on some. The primary expansion is the political and legal climates changed enough to allow these projects to thought up, talked about, financed and actually done. There was a permissive climate in these areas that allowed them to happen. I'd also suggest that the growing pressures of the Industrial Revolution and the population's growth contributed to this.
 

OpnCoronet

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I can go along with this, but I think it needs to be expanded on some. The primary expansion is the political and legal climates changed enough to allow these projects to thought up, talked about, financed and actually done. There was a permissive climate in these areas that allowed them to happen. I'd also suggest that the growing pressures of the Industrial Revolution and the population's growth contributed to this.



Very true and the ruling oligarchs of the South(and in Congress) were opposed to all those climate changes and would secede from the Union, rather than accept those changes.
 

wausaubob

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The Erie Canal was a tremendous accomplishment. It solved numerous engineering obstacles, and came in nearly on budget.
It really demonstrated what private/public consortium could accomplish.
By the time Andrew Jackson left office the policy of no assistance to internal improvements was in retreat.
Even Millard Fillmore went along with the land grant program for the Illinois central.
 

CW Buff

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Connecticut
For regional conflict:
1. The Erie Canal, was completed by 1825 and paid for by 1837. Despite the demand for labor on the project, slave labor was not used in a significant way. The fact that the massive engineering project was economically successful and made New York the dominant state in the United States was an example that made all other major internal improvements viable.
2. Stephen A. Douglas succeeded in getting the land grant funding mechanism for the Illinois Central Railroad. Chartered in 1851 and completed in 1856, it was the longest railroad in the world at the time. Its principal purpose was to create a mode of transportation that competed directly with the steamboat traffic on the Mississippi.
Railroads of course, are not dependent on the weather, and are faster.
3. The bridge across the Mississippi River at Rock Island. It was completed April 21, 1856. This proved the viability of bridging the Mississippi and was a direct economic attack by state interests on the riverboat traffic.
It led to the famous legal confrontation which was significant in Abraham Lincoln's legal career.
4. The Sault St. Marie locks opened in 1855, which gave the nation access to the Lake Superior iron ranges.
All four projects were part of the rapid growth of the population of the northern states. All four presaged the dominance of the railroads and emerging significance of the iron industry.
The Democratic resistance to internal improvements, and dreamy conception of a citizenry made up of yoeman farmers, (dominated by rich plantation owners who worked all the good land) had failed and the United States was ready to move to the future without that sectional resistance.
Maybe add a fifth?

Doesn't the Cumberland/National Road, begun in 1811, and authorized, perhaps a bit ironically, by Jefferson in 1806, get the ball rolling on federal subsidized internal improvements?
 

James N.

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For regional conflict:
1. The Erie Canal, was completed by 1825 and paid for by 1837. Despite the demand for labor on the project, slave labor was not used in a significant way. The fact that the massive engineering project was economically successful and made New York the dominant state in the United States was an example that made all other major internal improvements viable.

This also provided a boost in immigration, because even though as you say, slave labor wasn't important to the project the Irish were! Of course that also contributed to the expansion and dominance of Northern population as well.
 

Bruce Vail

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Maybe add a fifth?

Doesn't the Cumberland/National Road, begun in 1811, and authorized, perhaps a bit ironically, by Jefferson in 1806, get the ball rolling on federal subsidized internal improvements?

49_01_BaltoSt.jpg



A little local Maryland history is that the state legislature early on authorized the construction of toll roads from Cumberland. Md. to Baltimore, effectively extending the National Road to the Baltimore waterfront.

http://marylandnationalroad.org/history-of-the-road/
 

NedBaldwin

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California
For regional conflict:
1. The Erie Canal, was completed by 1825 and paid for by 1837. Despite the demand for labor on the project, slave labor was not used in a significant way. The fact that the massive engineering project was economically successful and made New York the dominant state in the United States was an example that made all other major internal improvements viable.
I feel that the canal was significant for another reason. Initially the way to get to the midwest was from Virginia and Maryland, such as the Wilderness road from southwestern Virginia down into Tennessee and then over the Cumberland gap or the National Road up the Potomac then across the corner of Pennsylvania to Wheeling. The migrants reflected the path -- for example early prominent political leaders of Ohio were all Virginians in origin. Likewise, the early settlers of Illinois settled in the southern part and were more likely to come from Virginia and the Carolinas by way of Kentucky and Tennessee. But the Eire canal changed the dynamic -- the easiest path to the west now led from the northeast and a flood of New Englanders began settling along the shores of the Great Lakes.
 

wausaubob

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Denver, CO
The national road did not involve the same sort of risk that the Erie Canal involved. In addition the practical engineering knowledge gained in constructing the canal had implications in the old Northwest.
The national road became part of the struggle in another way. The high bridge at Wheeling was viewed as a competitive obstacle by the steamboat businesses. Although the steamboat business won a legal contest in federal court, Congress intervened on behalf of the bridge, in an early instance of federal protection of a federal project.
 
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wausaubob

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The Illinois Central Railroad was important because it was clear that Stephen A. Douglas could bring home the bacon.
He was a ruthless coalition builder and when it came time for Illinois to get federal backing for this railroad, he got it.
 

WJC

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For regional conflict:
1. The Erie Canal, was completed by 1825 and paid for by 1837. Despite the demand for labor on the project, slave labor was not used in a significant way. The fact that the massive engineering project was economically successful and made New York the dominant state in the United States was an example that made all other major internal improvements viable.
2. Stephen A. Douglas succeeded in getting the land grant funding mechanism for the Illinois Central Railroad. Chartered in 1851 and completed in 1856, it was the longest railroad in the world at the time. Its principal purpose was to create a mode of transportation that competed directly with the steamboat traffic on the Mississippi.
Railroads of course, are not dependent on the weather, and are faster.
3. The bridge across the Mississippi River at Rock Island. It was completed April 21, 1856. This proved the viability of bridging the Mississippi and was a direct economic attack by state interests on the riverboat traffic.
It led to the famous legal confrontation which was significant in Abraham Lincoln's legal career.
4. The Sault St. Marie locks opened in 1855, which gave the nation access to the Lake Superior iron ranges.
All four projects were part of the rapid growth of the population of the northern states. All four presaged the dominance of the railroads and emerging significance of the iron industry.
The Democratic resistance to internal improvements, and dreamy conception of a citizenry made up of yoeman farmers, (dominated by rich plantation owners who worked all the good land) had failed and the United States was ready to move to the future without that sectional resistance.
You've touched on one of the complaints of the southern states. These projects all benefited northern and western interests.
Potter points out,
the southern economy, which was based on cotton and tobacco, shipped its produce by river and ocean to be sold in a world market.... The northern and western economy of manufacture, diversified agriculture, and grain production, shipped by turnpike or canal to domestic markets....
The south opposed public appropriations to improve the means of transport, while the landlocked Northwest consistently supported them.
These points of rivalry and others like them made for chronic friction which divided the opposing forces along lines that recurred with enough regularity to harden into barriers of sectional division.​
<David M. Potter, The Impending Crisis: America before the Civil War 1848-1861. (New York: Harper Collins, 1976), pp. 32-33.>
 

photoman475

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Wausaubob, I wonder if the fact that Davis lost this one and Abe Lincoln was a lawyer on this who won was a reason that Davis accepted the CSA presidency. Pure conjecture, but who knows?

WJC, the one thing I've never understood is if the South was so concerned about their infrastructure, they would have proposed more than just a Southern start for the transcontinental railroad. The South certainly could have gone after their own land grant railroads; they certainly had enough politicians who had enough influence to have pulled this off.
 

wausaubob

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Denver, CO
The main competition in politics was between Jefferson Davis, who advocated southern expansion based on slavery, and Stephen A. Douglas who believed in northern expansion based on vote trading and pork barrel projects.
Abraham Lincoln got what he wanted out of the Rock Island bridge dispute.
In the most famous of these cases, Hurd et al. v. the Rock Island Railroad, Abraham Lincoln defended the railroad in September 1857. It concluded with a hung jury, allowing the railroad to continue using the bridge. (Image from Slattery, 1988. Courtesy of the Rock Island County Historical Society, Moline, Illinois)
http://www.riveraction.org/bridgehistory
(Superb website, terrific photos.)
He got a jury trial, got a hung jury and got a ton of publicity out of it. He did not get squeezed out of this one, as he had been squeezed out in the McCormick patent case.
Having held the line against the St. Louis steamboat interests, Lincoln moved out to a bigger challenge, that being running against Stephen A. Douglas.
 

wausaubob

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Location
Denver, CO
You've touched on one of the complaints of the southern states. These projects all benefited northern and western interests.
Potter points out,
the southern economy, which was based on cotton and tobacco, shipped its produce by river and ocean to be sold in a world market.... The northern and western economy of manufacture, diversified agriculture, and grain production, shipped by turnpike or canal to domestic markets....
The south opposed public appropriations to improve the means of transport, while the landlocked Northwest consistently supported them.
These points of rivalry and others like them made for chronic friction which divided the opposing forces along lines that recurred with enough regularity to harden into barriers of sectional division.​
<David M. Potter, The Impending Crisis: America before the Civil War 1848-1861. (New York: Harper Collins, 1976), pp. 32-33.>
The south gradually acquired an identity as a slave economy. They were telling the rest of the world that 40% of their population were inferior and could not be full citizens. That made their economy look unstable and not progressive, to politicians in the U.S. and investors on both sides of the Atlantic.
It became much easier for politicians in New England, New York and the West to make deals with each other, because the shared an economic system that had made the transition from the middle ages to the modern era.
The south had an economic system with an inherently revolutionary labor force, which had to be both physically and politically repressed. That did not look a sound system after the Haitian slave revolt.
While the South was collecting votes to protect slavery, the West was collecting votes to promote internal improvements.
I think when people like Stephen A. Douglas and Robert J. Walker began to pull away from slavery, because it could not attract free investors and did attract violence, the South lost in the Democratic party.
 

RobertP

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Dallas
The south gradually acquired an identity as a slave economy. They were telling the rest of the world that 40% of their population were inferior and could not be full citizens. That made their economy look unstable and not progressive, to politicians in the U.S. and investors on both sides of the Atlantic.
The Dred Scott decision in 1857 by a 7-2 majority confirmed for the rest of the world that black people could not be full citizens. Abe Lincoln hammered the inferior part home one year later in a debate with Douglas.

Let's get our history straight.
 
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