2. Economic and technological developments, 1800-1860

  • Cotton Gin

    Invented by Eli Whitney, this machine removed the cotton seeds from the fiber. The machine could do this 50 times faster than a human. The cotton gin enabled the South to increase cotton production.
  • Interchangeable Parts

    The idea behind interchangeable parts is to manufacture large quantities of identical parts in factories. These standard parts would be assembled into identical products. This was much more cost effective than making unique items one at a time. It also allowed for part of the product to be replaced if it was defective. This was first used by Eli Whitney in the manufacture of muskets.
  • The Factory System

    A system of manufacturing by which individuals, paid by wage, make one part of a total product. This product would be produced from start to finish under one roof. This increased factory efficiency.
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    Turnpikes were hard surfaced toll roads. They were built with private capitol for profits. The turnpikes helped connect the East with the West, mostly for the transport of goods. Due to high tolls, many people didn’t use turnpikes.
  • Steamboat

    Robert Fulton proved his steamboat feasible when he drove up the Hudson River from NYC to Albany. The steamboat allowed for upstream commerce and fast transport across the Great Lakes and Atlantic Ocean.
  • Erie Canal

    The 363-mile Erie Canal connected the Hudson River to Lake Erie. This meant goods from NYC could travel all the way to the Northwest Territory quickly and by means of water travel. Although the canal cost $7 million to build, it made NYC the greatest shipping and trading center in the country.
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    The first railroad in the USA was built between Baltimore and Ohio in 1828. During this period, the US had a railroad network of 30,000 miles. Railroads were cost effective to built (as compared to canals), dependable throughout the year, and could reach far places with large quantities of goods.
  • Reaper

    Cyrus McCormick was the inventor of the reaper, a machine that harvested grain. It did this quickly and cost effectively.
  • Steel Plow

    John Deer built the steel plow. This sped up settlement of the prairie due to its ability to turn though sod.
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    A telegraph is an electrical instrument that allows messages to be “tapped out in dots and dashes” and transmitted over a wire. It was developed by Samuel F. B. Morse, also the inventor of Morse code, in 1844. There were telegraph lines throughout all areas east of the Mississippi River by 1860.
  • Sewing Machine

    The sewing machine was invented by Elias Howe. This allowed clothing to be mass produced in factories. It also increased the demand for cotton and woolen cloth.