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The rise of an agricultural surplus was transforming the west and preparing a new influence in the nation. It was this surplus and the demand for markets that developed the cities just mentioned. As they grew, the price of land in their neighborhood increased; roads radiated into the surrounding country; and farmers, whose crops had been almost worthless from the lack of transportation facilities, now found it possible to market their surplus at a small profit. While the west was thus learning the advantages of a home market, the extension of cotton and sugar cultivation in the south and southwest gave it a new and valuable market. More and more, the planters came to rely upon the northwest for their food supplies and for the mules and horses for their fields. Cotton became the engrossing interest of the plantation belt, and, while the full effects of this differentiation of industry did not appear in the decade of this volume, the beginnings were already visible. [Footnote: Callender, "Early Transportation and Banking Enterprises of the States," in Quarterly Journal of Econ., XVII., 3-54.] In 1835, Pitkin [Footnote: Pitkin, Statistical View (1835), 534.] reckoned the value of the domestic and foreign exports of the interior as far in excess of the whole exports of the United States in 1790. Within forty years the development of the interior had brought about the economic independence of the United States.

During most of the decade the merchandise to supply the interior was brought laboriously across the mountains by the Pennsylvania turnpikes and the old National Road; or, in the case of especially heavy freight, was carried along the Atlantic coast into the gulf and up the Mississippi and Ohio by steamboats. The cost of transportation in the wagon trade from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh and Baltimore to Wheeling placed a heavy tax upon the consumer. [Footnote: Niles' Register, XX., 180.] In 1817 the freight charge from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh was sometimes as high as seven to ten dollars a hundredweight; a few years later it became from four to six dollars; and in 1823 it had fallen to three dollars. It took a month to wagon merchandise from Baltimore to central Ohio. Transportation companies, running four-horse freight wagons, conducted a regular business on these turn-pikes between the eastern and western states. In 1820 over three thousand wagons ran between Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, transporting merchandise valued at about eighteen million dollars annually. [Footnote: Birkbeck, Journey from Va., 128; Ogden, Letters from the West, 8; Cobbett, Year's Residence, 337; Evans, Pedestrious Tour, 145; Philadelphia in 1824, 45; Searight, Old Pike, 107, 112; Mills, Treatise on Inland Navigation (1820), 89, 90, 93, 95-97; Journal of Polit. Econ., VIII., 36.]

The construction of the National Road reduced freight rates to nearly one-half what they were at the close of the War of 1812; and the introduction of steam navigation from New Orleans up the Mississippi cut water-rates by that route to one-third of the former charge. [Footnote: Annals of Cong., 18 Cong., I Sess., I., 991; cf. Fearon, Sketches, 260; Niles' Register, XXV., 95; Cincinnati Christian Journal, July 27, 1830.] Nevertheless, there was a crying need for internal improvements, and particularly for canals, to provide an outlet for the increasing products of the west. "Even in the country where I reside, not eighty miles from tidewater," said Tucker, [Footnote: Annals of Cong., 15 Cong., I Sess., I., 1126.] of Virginia, in 1818, "it takes the farmer one bushel of wheat to pay the expense of carrying two to a seaport town."