Expansion of the American Economy - Free Essay Sample

Published: 2023-11-06
Expansion of the American Economy - Free Essay Sample
Type of paper:  Essay
Categories:  Economics American revolution
Pages: 5
Wordcount: 1200 words
10 min read


The period between the end of the American Revolution and the Reconstruction was arguably one of the biggest crises that America had experienced prior to it. The economic, social, and political differences between the northern and southern states grew bigger. Economically, the North thrived as its industrial and commercial sectors boomed, while the South remained heavily reliant on agriculture (BlackPast, 2019). However, what contributed the most to the crises was the practice of slavery, which dominantly affected African-Americans. This formed the basis of the disparity between the North and the South. While the former was inclined towards its limitation or abolishment, the latter wanted to maintain further and increase slavery (BlackPast, 2019). The clash between the South and North was costly and bloody, as it sparked a civil war. As most of the war was fought in the South, it suffered the most and was left physically and economically damaged. As the Southerners had mostly relied on the labor provided for by slaves, they were forced to adjust to a new system of work that did not involve slavery. New systems of labor had to be devised to replace slavery (BlackPast, 2019). Concepts such as sharecropping and wage labor arose. While the reconstruction proved to be a complicated process, the American economic system certainly did progress and improve well.

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Drastic Change

There was a new wave that saw a drastic change from the manual-labor system. This wave of change commenced in the South and spread across not only America but also other countries. With the growing rates of domestic manufacturing, there was an increase in trade in the United States (Robinson, 1967). Increased production meant that the heavy reliance on imports would reduce. As such, there was a need to improve the transportation system to help in the movement of the goods. While the South remained heavily reliant on agricultural productions, the North continued to specialize in textile manufacturing and production (Robinson, 1967). This led to increased positive inter-dependence that ultimately played to the benefit of the country’s economy.

Eli Whitney revolutionized the production of cotton. He developed a cotton engine, i.e., cotton gin, that could rapidly and efficiently separate the cotton fibers from their seeds. Initially, this was a tedious task that would be done painfully by the hands of slaves. In a short period, the increased production of cotton, commercial agriculture, rose to become a fundamental element in the country’s economy. Further, this machine was modified and utilized in the North, for various industrial purposes. Through it, industrial productions were increased further. Eventually, substance farming reduced owing to the transition to and preference of machine-based manufacturing at the expense of the agricultural-based economy. This led to an influx of persons from the countryside moving to towns and cities in search of opportunities.

The advancement from the oxen-driven wooden plows to the horse-pulled steel plow enabled farmers to till the soil more efficiently and effectively, without necessarily having to incur the costs of frequent repairs. Farmers in the West, just like those in the South, began to rake in high profits from the ever-increasing wheat productions. At some point, the productions exceeded the consumption. The surplus was then transported and traded or sold elsewhere. The emergence of industrial tools played a significant role in increasing quality and efficient manufacturing. The first two decades of the century saw the development and utilization of all-metal tools that had significant interchangeable parts that allowed for easy replacement and fixing. Such systems helped in the production of new machines that served several industries.

Introduction of Tariffs

An American system was introduced that involved the introduction of tariffs, as well as the creation of a national bank. The aim of all these was to help stabilize and protect the growing U.S. industry. The federal and local governments, and the private sector, made significant investments in roads, canals, and railroads. For instance, the Erie Canal’s completion proved particularly fundamental as it opened up the country to trading with other markets that were based on the eastern coast.

The rapid growth of industrialization witnessed the establishment of several factories and the implementation of paid labor. This saw an increase in the number of people employed to work in these factories. This meant that more people would be earning more, as such, an increase in the revenue and tax collection in the country. Further, an increase in wages saw a relative improvement in the lives of many individuals.

Different classes arose during this period. While there were increased factories and industries, as well as improved wages, wealth was unequally distributed. All the resultant classes had different perceptions of slavery. While the upper class lived separately, the middle class was associated with work, consumption, and the dedication to keep up with their social status. The lower class were mainly the wage laborers and survived through their industrial societies and unions (The Great Nation of Futurity, 1967). The minimal wages were disproportional primarily to the long hours they put in and was barely enough to cater for all their needs and that of their families.

From the preceding, it is apparent that emancipation was the biggest and most significant result that was achieved during this period. Not only did it impact on the economy, but it had a social and political significance as well. This freedom granted African Americans the chance to set up their families, get into meaningful contracts, own property, and transit freely across the country- a freedom that was initially denied to them (The Prayer of the Twenty Millions, 1862). However, while the outward picture may have pointed towards a free-labor economy, some laws still ensured that African Americans were still bound and dependent on Whites. However, the economy still witnessed steady and significant growth. The shift from agricultural production to manufacturing-oriented production was witnessed mainly during this period. The massive investment, made by both the government and private sector, on roads helped to open up the country to several overseas markets- consequently facilitating trade (The Prayer of the Twenty Millions, 1862). The new system set up that saw the introduction of tariffs helped the government in the increased collection of revenue. This revenue collected was then re-invested into the industries, thus facilitating their growth.


To conclude, the increase in industries and factories increased manufacture and production, at times exceeding consumption. The surplus was then set up for trading and selling elsewhere. Finally, the resultant classes that were formed owing to the disparity in wealth helped stabilize the economy. While the elite maintained a more significant share of the wealth, the other classes were forced to keep working to either maintain their status or improve their lifestyles. This constant input by these classes helped in keeping the country’s economy afloat.

Works Cited

BlackPast. (2019, October 05). (1850) Lucy Stanton, "A Plea for the Oppressed" Retrieved August 14, 2020, from: https://www.blackpast.org/african-american-history/1850-lucy-stanton-plea-oppressed/

Characteristics of the Early Factory Girls: Harriet Hanson Robinson. (1967). Retrieved August 14, 2020, from https://www.historyisaweapon.com/defcon1/robinsonfactgirls.html

The Prayer of the Twenty Millions – 1862. (2011, August 20). Retrieved August 14, 2020, from https://clockworkconservative.wordpress.com/freedom/speeches/the-prayer-of-the-twenty-millions-1862/

"The Great Nation of Futurity," The United States Democratic Review, Volume 6, Issue 23, pp. 426-430.

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