Building a New Nation

In 1787, the United States was an agricultural nation with a small manufacturing sector. It's growth into a major industrial power did not happen overnight, and did not happen in the early national period. Nevertheless, several developments which occurred in the early national period laid the groundwork for the rapid economic expansion which was to occur in the following decades. These changes included improvement of transportation within the country; westward expansion and development of progressive manufacturing techniques.

In post-Revolutionary America, factories produced iron, textiles, food products such as flour and refined sugar, some minerals and other miscellaneous items. Along with the agricultural products from farms, these manufacturing goods were sold domestically and exported. While sea routes for export were well established, domestic transportation was relatively poor. After the Revolutionary War, American merchants were excluded from the British West Indies, and lost their favored position with Britain as a trade partner. These merchants needed to turn to other parts of the world, including the rest of the United States, for markets to sell their products. This resulted in a demand for improved transportation of goods to different parts of the country.