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United States in the Early 1800s
Transcript of United States in the Early 1800s
In 1800 the United States consisted of 16 states with a population of 5 million people. Most people still lived within 50 miles of the Atlantic Ocean. Almost 1 million of these people were enslaved African-Americans.
United States in 1800
Three main regions developed in the United States– North, South, and the West.
North- Most large cities were located in the North. The largest being Philadelphia with 69,000 people. The North still had very little farming, but by the 1800 much of the North had begun to industrialize. Differences between the regions caused many to see Northerns as enterprising, thrifty, and quick to chase a dollar.
South- The south continued to flourish with agriculture. Growing crops like tobacco and cotton. A large portion of slaves lived in the South under poor conditions. The cash crops grown were largely sent overseas to Europeans countries. A plantation system dominated the economy, while most southerners had fewer than 10 slaves. The rich plantation owners of the south were seen as gracious, cultured, and (in the eyes of Yankees) lazy.
West- The West can be defined as anything past the Appalachian Mountains. Most people moving that way were looking for open spaces to begin a new life. Many were trappers or adventurers preferring to stay away from towns. Others became farmers growing wheat or ranchers raising cattle to sell in America. Those that moved west had a constant fear of Indian raids. Frontiersmen were deemed rugged, hardy, and crude.
Traveling in the early 1800s included feet, horses, and ships. No roads were developed so traveling was slow. Citizens would walk for short trips and often ride a horse or wagon for longer trips. The demand by westerners for a good route to use while bringing their supplies to market caused Congress to set aside money in 1806 for the first National Road. River travel normally was cheaper and faster than overland however it was not always the most direct route to take.
Water transportation was revolutionized in 1807 with the invention of The Clermont. Robert Fulton used a steam engine to drive large paddle wheels around in order to move a ship up and down rivers. This steamboat could move up stream faster and easier than any human powered boat.
In 1816, the governor of New York proposed creating a 360 mile river from Lake Erie to the Hudson River. Starting in 1818 a path 50 feet wide and 4 feet deep began its construction. 7 years later, in 1825, the Erie Canal was completed. Ships were pulled along the locks by mules and connected the West to the East. Trade picked up so much for New York that by 1830 New York City was the largest city in the US with 200,000 citizens.
Communications were slow in the early 1800s. Without the inventions of telephones, telegraphs, televisions, or computers, communication primarily consisted of letters. This meant that many letters took several months to get to its destination. Most people received their information by newspapers. The invention of the telegraph in 1794 helped speed up communications but it wasn’t until Samuel Morse’s improvements in 1835 that the telegraph became a reliable source of faster communications.
Rise of Industry
A new industrial society began in the United States as early as 1790 with Samuel Slater building a spinning mill in Pawtucket, Rhode Island. Slater set the standard for factory workers which was soon followed by many in the North. The North was the perfect region to begin using factories because of the fast-moving rivers and a willing labor force who were tried of scraping a living from their stony fields.
A second innovator, Eli Whitney, improved factories with the invention of interchangeable parts. Whitney was commissioned in 1797 to make 10,000 muskets for the US army. Whitney devised a system which allowed for individual parts to be made and then assembled together. Interchangeable parts sped up production, made repairs easy, and allowed the use of lower-paid, less skilled workers. Both of these events help begin the Industrial Revolution.
Lowell Textile Mills
In 1813, Francis Cabot Lowell built a factory that not only spun cotton into yarn, but wove it into cloth. Lowell's mill in Waltham, Massachusetts was so successful that he bulit a second mill. This mill employed young ladies who were looking to make some money before marriage. Working 12 and half hour days, these girls made 2 to 4 dollars a week. Employees had to live in a boardinghouse at the mill, follow strict rules, attend church, and become educated. By 1830, most water powered factories were giving way to steam powered factories that did not require a location on a river.
Just like inventions in other areas of life improved conditions, inventions in farming allowed farmers to increase production. Cyrus McCormick created a mechanical reaper in 1834. In 1836, John Deere invented a lightweight plow with a steel cutting edge. Both of these inventions made work less tedious. As a result more farmers moved to the Midwest.