American History




Beforethe nineteenth century, the United States of America was quiteunderdeveloped. The onset of the nineteenth century brought with itdevelopments in the communication, transportation and economicsectors of the country. During the first initial stages 19thcentury, America experienced new and more efficient forms oftransportation (Hyde, 2011). Before this, people used stagecoaches tomove between the towns, which were a rather slow form oftransportation. As the French and British settled in the country’smajor towns, they brought with them more advanced forms oftransportation. They developed roads and railroads that linked mostof the previously isolated communities. Transportation of people andfreight became more efficient, as the time or moving between coastalsettlements and urban centers decreased significantly.

Thedevelopments in the transportation and communication sectorspositively impacted the country’s economy. By the mid-nineteenthcentury, the country’s economy had become more modernized.Previously, the economy was largely dependent on agriculture.However, with these developments, the economy diversified intocommerce. This was boosted by a dynamic and wide-reaching capitalistmarket. The British and French settlers introduced the modernizedEuropean trading further strengthening America’s economy (Cobbs &ampGjerde, 2006). The industrial revolution that had earlier beenwitnessed in Europe started taking place in the United States.

Initially,the American economy had been characterized by small and localizedmarkets. It was not until the mid-nineteenth century that theimproved transportation country, especially railroad transport,changed this. The railroads provided the means for transportingpeople and goods from the East to West and from the North to South.The initially localized market economy became nationalized. Withthis, urban growth radically changed. The population grew from a fewthousands to millions, and the entire society changed.

Thesedevelopments mostly impacted the families that were living in theWestern parts. As the industrial revolution intensified in theNortheastern parts of the country, the process of urbanization tookoff. As a result, there was an ignition of an agricultural empire inthe West. A significantly high percentage of the American populationwas now located in the Western coast by the mid-nineteenth century(Hyde, 2011). There was an increased migration to these parts,facilitated by the opportunity for growth. Additionally, theagricultural conditions in the west coast were more favorable than inthe east. Given the improved transport and communication means thathad gradually improved by this time, several people from areas suchas Virginia and the Carolinas moved the West (Cobbs &amp Gjerde,2006). These were people who had the economic muscle to develop thenewly occupied land.

Theincreased population in the west coast saw to the improvement of theregion’s economy. Beginning with agriculture and later venturinginto commerce, the area’s previously impoverished image wasdrastically improved. Merchantry and other businesses characterizedthe West’s urban centers. For instance, urban centers such asChicago, which were previously largely dependent on agriculture, grewto develop into one of the leading and plushest cities in lateryears.

Thefamilies living in the West grew significantly. This was facilitatedby the development of their family lands and property, because of theimproved economy. Additionally, given the urbanization that had takenplace, these families pushed for relaxation of land laws, whichenabled them to acquire even more land. For instance, after the 1862Homestead Act, people could easily claim land by simply assumingownership and developing it. Communication, transportation, andeconomic growth therefore influenced the Western families more thanthe East Coast families.


Cobbs,H. E., &amp Gjerde, J. (2006). Majorproblems in American history: Documents and essays.Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co.

Hyde,A. F. (2011). Empires,nations, and families: A history of the North American West,1800-1860.Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press.

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