The four construction projects that set the stage

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 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.
Comments by Roger L. Ransom, University of California (Riverside):

Following the opening of the Erie Canal in 1823, there was growing support in the North and the Northwest for government support of improvement in transportation facilities — what were termed in those days “internal improvements”. The need for government- sponsored improvements was particularly urgent in the Great Lakes region.<Marc Egnal,“The Beards Were Right: Parties in the North, 1840-1860.” Civil War History 47 (2001), pp. 45-50.>. The appearance of the railroad in the 1840s gave added support for those advocating government subsidies to promote transportation. Southerners required far fewer internal improvements than people in the Northwest, and they tended to view federal subsidies for such projects to be part of a “deal” between western and eastern interests that held no obvious gains for the South. The bill that best illustrates the regional disputes on transportation was the Pacific Railway Bill of 1860, which proposed a transcontinental railway link to the West Coast. The bill failed to pass the House, receiving no votes from congressmen representing districts of the South where there was a significant slave population. <Richard F. Bensel, Yankee Leviathan: The Origins of Central State Authority in America, 1859-1877.( New York: Cambridge University Press, 1990).>
<Roger Ransom,“Economics of the Civil War”. EH.Net Encyclopedia, edited by Robert Whaples. August 24, 2001. http://eh.net/encyclopedia/the-economics-of-the-civil-war/>
 
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WJC

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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.
"Confirmed" the long-standing Southern position "that 40% of their population were inferior and could not be full citizens".
 

civilken

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it was the age old problem how do you keep little Jimmy on the farm after he's been to the big city. The South was trying to hold onto the past they could not nor would not accept the future they were afraid of education roads, they believed it would steal their daughter's and corrupt their man. The rich planters had a stranglehold on their local government and people in their areas and did not want to lose it. And the final assault was on their religion when people started saying it was against God to own slaves they felt enough is enough. People today say what were they thinking they could have never worn a war but they were not looking for a long protracted war they were hoping the North would capitulate and give in to their demands and after that it was just a matter of pride they couldn't believe that when they threatened war the North said let's do it and we did.
 

WJC

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Without question these four projects had an immense impact on the development and expansion of the United States. One can certainly make the argument that they primarily impacted the Northern states. But, since they had minimal involvement by the Federal government, one wonders why Southerners felt slighted by them. The answer seems to be less in the way they were funded and built than in the effect they had in developing the North.
Certainly, Southern states or corporations could have built similar projects.
The Erie Canal, was completed by 1825 and paid for by 1837.
The Erie Canal was financed by the State of New York. Funds were appropriated for the initial surveys in 1808. In 1810, the Legislature created the Canal Commission and appointed its members, who sought financing from the Federal government. They were refused. In 1817 Congress passed appropriations funding the canal, but the bill was vetoed by President Madison.
With Governor DeWitt Clinton's support, the New York Legislature funded the remaining construction. Clinton officially opened the Canal in October 1826.
Stephen A. Douglas succeeded in getting the land grant funding mechanism for the Illinois Central Railroad. Chartered in 1851 and completed in 1856....
The bill passed in 1850 was the first Federal subsidy of its kind. It was financed by granting alternate six-mile sections along its route to the state, amounting to 2.6 Million acres. This scenario was followed in later railroad subsidies, notably Pacific Railroad Acts which largely funded the Transcontinental Railroad.
The bridge across the Mississippi River at Rock Island.
The Rock Island Bridge was built by the Railroad Bridge Company, a corporation chartered by the State of Illinois in 1853. It was not funded by the Federal government, which actually opposed building the bridge. The right of way passed over Rock Island, where an abandoned Army facility was located. Then Secretary of War Jefferson Davis claimed the property was under his jurisdiction and the Bridge Company was illegally building on it; he ordered the officers to stop construction. They ignored his order. Davis filed suit against the company, but lost.
Other than the involvement of Davis and- later-Abraham Lincoln, the Rock Island Bridge is significant in our discussion because it pitted the east-west railroad interests, generally favored by Northerners, against north-south riverboat interests, favored by Southerners. It aided settlement of territory west of the Mississippi by Northerners and it also made it more likely that a proposed transcontinental railroad would be built on a northern route.
The Sault St. Marie locks opened in 1855, which gave the nation access to the Lake Superior iron ranges.
The Sault St. Marie (aka Soo St. Marie) Locks were financed by a congressional land grant of 750,000 acres of public land to E&T Fairbanks Company. Until 1881, they were operated by the State of Michigan.[/QUOTE]
 
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wausaubob

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Denver, CO
Congress made these deals. Congress was the political entity in which the south had the least representation.
It was much easier for northern Democrats and Northern Republicans to make these deals, because they weren't arguing about slavery when they made these coalitions.
The North could also attract foreign investors, because it did not have a built in slavery problem.

[Richard] Cobden had particularly strong ties to Senator Charles Sumner,
the radical MassachusettsRepublican. Cobden’s relationship with Sumner provided an unofficial channel of
communication to the Lincoln administration that bypassed Seward. Cobden had
close ties with Northern businessmen associated with the Illinois Central Railroad, in
whose stock almost his entire personal fortune was invested.

chttps://krex.k-state.edu/dspace/bitstream/handle/2097/14956/RickyDaleCalhoun2012.pdf?sequence=1
 

USS ALASKA

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The completion of the Erie Canal and the improvements to the Great Lakes waterway system eased access and cost for MASS movement of people and things to / from the Old Northwest via an East / West routing. Prior to that, the northish / southish orientation of the mass transportation via existing waterways drove the states and territories west of the Appalachians into closer relations with the South. The above named projects, and later the B & O, PRR, Erie, NYC, and other railroads drained that flow of goods and people away from that former North / South traveling relationship.

Cheers,
USS ALASKA
 

jackt62

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I would also include the "Third System" of coastal fortifications that was funded by Congress in the decades prior to the CW, and that led to the construction of many of the sites that became flash points during the war. These include Ft. Sumter in Charleston, Fort Pulaski in Savannah, Forts Morgan and Gaines in Mobile Bay, and Fort Pickens in Florida.
 

USS ALASKA

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1. The Erie Canal...was an example that made all other major internal improvements viable.

'Viable' in that we could engineer our way through it and come up with funding (private or public) but not always economically. Please see Pennsylvania's history of canal building efforts to compete with the Erie. Not always the best use of funds, Maryland also. New York City got there the '...first-est with the most-est...' (Civil War history tie in...) and Baltimore and Philly just couldn't keep up, slowly falling to 'also-rans' compared to that giant of the North... :wink:

Cheers,
USS ALASKA
 

wausaubob

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Canal building was a brief episode and the initial RRs were not strong additions. However the corporate model slowly evolved and the state/private method of financing, with its problems, succeeded. The lower cost and higher speed of transportation made the paid labor part of the economy grow faster than the coerced labor part of the economy. High wages and immigration won.
 

DaveBrt

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it pitted the east-west railroad interests, generally favored by Northerners, against north-south riverboat interests, favored by Southerners.
Long before the War, Southern railroads were being built in competition with steamboats. The issue was the loss of income in years when the rivers were too shallow to carry products (cotton) to seaports. Examples: Memphis & Charleston, Mobile & Ohio, Mexican Gulf, Vicksburg, Shreveport & Texas, Nashville & Northwestern, Roanoke Valley, Augusta & Savannah, Norfolk & Petersburg, Memphis & Ohio, Alabama & Florida and others.
 

USS ALASKA

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The issue was the loss of income in years when the rivers were too shallow to carry products (cotton) to seaports.

This may be a stupid question but...what other kind do I ask?

Did many navigable rivers in Confederate States freeze in the winter?

Cheers,
USS ALASKA
 

USS ALASKA

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One interesting note on the economic relationships between the Old Northwest and the states soon to be known as Confederate was that while traffic between them for many items dropped off with the opening of the Great Lakes and the Canals and the Railroads, agricultural products of human and livestock feed remained stable and grew in some cases. With much of the South focused upon the production of non-foodstuff exportables, the easiest and cheapest place to make up the shortfall was up the Mississippi...

As a source for this, and maybe @DaveBrt can back me up, is Black's book on Confederate Railroads.

Cheers,
USS ALASKA
 

DaveBrt

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Location
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One interesting note on the economic relationships between the Old Northwest and the states soon to be known as Confederate was that while traffic between them for many items dropped off with the opening of the Great Lakes and the Canals and the Railroads, agricultural products of human and livestock feed remained stable and grew in some cases. With much of the South focused upon the production of non-foodstuff exportables, the easiest and cheapest place to make up the shortfall was up the Mississippi...

As a source for this, and maybe @DaveBrt can back me up, is Black's book on Confederate Railroads.

Cheers,
USS ALASKA
I'm on the road and don't have Black with me. As I understand it, grains went by train from the mid-West to NY and overseas; animals and their feed was sent to the South and consumed there. Some of this traffic to the South was on the Mississippi, but a lot went down the Louisville & Nashville RR and the Nashville & Chattanooga RR and was very heavy in the early months of 1861.
 

wausaubob

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The impact of these projects was felt in the northern states. New York/Brooklyn became the biggest city in the United States. It became the most important destination for immigrants, and the financial center of the country. Competition with New York forced Boston, Philadelphia and Baltimore to adapt. Each worked its roads and railroads and tried different banking systems to try and keep up. The competition was very good for the country as the successful experiments became the foundation of federal action.
The Illinois Central Railroad was rather fortunate because Illinois was filling in so fast. It was only one of many Illinois railroads. As the population increased, there was enough traffic to keep the railroad solvent.
The bridge at Rock Island, IL, demonstrated that decision time had come. There was enough engineering ability to start the Pacific railroad, so decisions had to be made about how to get Missouri, Kansas, California and everyone back east involved in the project. This left out the cotton 7 states. But it did not leave out Missouri. Kentucky was connected to Illinois, Indiana and Ohio. What was good for the national economy was good for Kentucky. Maryland was part of the mercantile system. If equipment was shipped around the horn, Baltimore could get in on the traffic. If New Jersey locomotives went to Sacramento, that meant jobs on the Atlantic coast.
The Soo locks were probably the most cost effective public improvement ever built in the United States. High quality iron ore could now be shipped by sail and steam to Pittsburgh, Cleveland and eventually Gary, IN. This improvement created Pittsburgh.
Lots and lots of compromises here, by politicians involved in a lively give and take.
It remains difficult to see how people in Texas and Louisiana did not see that getting a piece of this action was important to the future of their cities and states. Cheap labor and quick development of cotton acreage, the white gold, held their imaginations.
 
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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.
curious wouldn't the Illinois and Michigan and the Hennepin canals count? Which connected the Great Lakes to the Mississippi River?
 
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