The four construction projects that set the stage

wausaubob

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Denver, CO
Canals and steamboats definitely count. But they are most efficient for transporting non perishable bulk items, like coal, wool and cotton. They are not as effective in transporting people, mail, livestock and produce.
Without fast rail transportation, the south is not setting the stage for building its own corn belt, and its own paper mills, sawmills, and produce farms. There were plenty of pro-slavery former Whigs who wanted the south to trade votes to get the levees, port dredging and railroads that would even things out. But the slavery/cotton interests demanded absolute loyalty on the cotton issues, and the Whigs got buried in the south.
Texas needed a Galveston-Pacific railroad and they did not get it in 1850. Stephen A. Douglas moved his attention north, to the Westport, Kansas City route, and to Duluth/Pudget Sound route.
 

wausaubob

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Denver, CO
The other engineering and finance achievement that had an impact was the construction of the Panama Railway.
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http://www.panamarailroad.org/history1b.html
The ability of another private high finance partnership to overcome the jungles and the crest of the Panamanian Ridge, and pay for itself was another sign that the national railroad link to California was possible.
 

wausaubob

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Apr 4, 2017
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Denver, CO
The change was that all the state capitals and major cities got their news from Washington on a daily basis. Especially in Maryland, Delaware, Virginia and Kentucky, where the capital was just a few hours or a few days away, it was going to be hard to convince people that the Washington government was distant, uncaring, or unresponsive to state demands about modifications to slavery and the beginnings of civil rights.
The telegraph was a powerful unifying change in a nation that was just beginning to experience what it was like to a national army academy and a national naval academy.
The telegraph companies had to operate across state lines to be effective. So state charters were no longer controlling. The six nations system was inherently unstable as the companies competed with service improvements and volume.
These telegraph companies were like additional states unto themselves and the model was probably going to be followed by railroads, sinc the Mississippi railroad bridge and the Panama railway had proven that there was not any obstacle to railroad construction that could not be overcome.
In fact most to national railroad to connect to California would have significantly fewer bridges and culverts per mile than the Panama railroad.
 

wausaubob

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Apr 4, 2017
Location
Denver, CO
In a nation with a developing railroad system and adequate mail services, the addition of the telegraph would not have made that much difference during peacetime.
The rise of the interconnected lines, with numerous competitors doing business across state lines was a big step forward in the creation of a national economy and a national capital market. Under the conditions created by the telegraph, a national currency and much tougher banking standards, as advocated by the banks in Boston, New York and Philadelphia, was likely to follow.
The biggest impact was going to occur when the Civil War broke out.
No one knew how much easier the telegraph was going to make reporting. As a consequence of swift reporting by military leaders, planners in Washington and Richmond could respond more rapidly to developments. For the belligerent carrying the burden of winning the war by positive accomplishments, it was going to be an increasingly valuable tool.
 
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