Canal Building Before 1840 Essay

960 words - 4 pages

Canal Building before 1840: Essay

Throughout history, there has been a need for better mode of transportation in order to keep up with economical growth. Canals have been around since the Ancient Roman Civilizations and still exist today. Canals have been so important because they allow people to travel from one place to another and back by way of water. They require very little energy and maintenance but help trade flow more efficiently. This can be proved by observing the United States economy in the early 19th century.

The canal Era was a major influence in American History. Canal building was spurred by the transportation revolution, which was from about 1815 to 1860. The transportation revolution greatly affected the economy. It enabled us to expand West since agriculture would become profitable, and it increased trade in the New England states too since shipping was faster and a lot cheaper. One of the most important canals of the time was Erie Canal. It was the first financially successful canal in America and set an example for the many more canals that would be built.

The Erie Canal was supported by De Witt Clinton, who became the canal's commissioner due to his promotion. The canal was planned to connect Lake Erie with the Hudson River. The completion of this canal would be an engineering feat since it was 363 miles long and had to overcome almost 600 feet of change in elevation. After a bill was passed by the New York Congress in 1817, construction had began. Aid was offered by merchants and bankers whom would benefit from it. The canal was opened in 1825, and from the start, it was obvious that it would be a success. It had paid off its seven-million dollar debt by 1836. It made New York the biggest trade center in the United States. Canal construction was being planned in every state east of the Mississippi River.

I have found a couple major interpretations of my subject. One of them is a book titled The Transportation Frontier. This book contains everything there is to know about the Canal Era. It also talks about how our major mode of transportation went from turnpikes to canals, and later, canals to steamboats and railroads. One thing that this source talks about that very few do is the other canals that were built after the Erie Canal
as a result of its success. These canals include the Champlain canal, the Union Canal, the Ohio Canal, the Pennsylvania Canal, and many more.

I feel that my topic was fine as far as restrictions go. I do think though that it
should have been limited to the Erie Canal only because that was by far the most important canal of the era. All of the sources I found have contained the Erie...

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