United State of America is one of the countries that underwent the greatest transformation in the history of the world. Prior to the year 1800, there were only 16 states, but during those 100 years, 29 more states were incorporated into the U. S. making a total of 45 states. It is during that period Louisiana State was purchased from the French. Prior to the 1800, the population though low was mainly concentrated in the Eastern Coastal region. This paper will discuss the transformations that the south and west went through from the start to the end of nineteenth century.
The West as well as the South and other states were all importing most of their products from Europe. At the beginning of the 19th century, people had already begun to migrate to the West. Then followed the Lewis and Clarks Expedition which sought to explore the nature of the potentials that the land in the west possessed. The land was found to be arable and this prompted massive population shift from the east. They came to take advantages of the opportunities that were available in the Western region. The migration into the western regions spurred conflicts between the white settlers (Americans) and the natives (The American West Transformed). It was further reported that in 1889 unoccupied lands in Oklahoma were acquired from the native tribes under President Harrison’s directives. Boomers were later to line-up and begun a rush into the new territory staking a claim for the land.
This intensified the Indian war as the Indians tried to stop the whites from further expanding into their territory. The discovery of gold and the desire to conserve their heritage and traditions were among the reasons why the Indians were fighting. Initially the government was purchasing the land from the natives through a consensus agreement which was abolished after the Indians started using force. This followed after the government signed the Indian removal act which literally relocated the Indians from the regions that the U. S. desired. Some of the worst fighting scenarios occurred in more desirable farming areas such as Colorado, California, Texas and gold rich Florida. The Americans fought hard and displaced the natives into the undesirable areas which were less productive. Then they settled in those arable lands and started practicing simple subsistence farming which later developed into large scale commercial farming (What Happened in the 1800s).
Agriculture remained a major source of livelihood in the west and the south. However, the production remained at small scale. Slavery was still practiced by then and in the 1860s, the southern states declared their detachment from the U.S. and formed a state known as the Confederacy. This instigated the civil war which led to the deaths of thousands of soldiers and civilians. This however did not stop the growth of agriculture and development in general.
A shift to mechanized labor instead of using hands and commercial farming instead of just subsistence resulted to increased volume of production. The amount produced continued to grow in spite of the population growth which had nearly doubled by 1860. This was due to several factors which include: technology advancement which saw the introduction of mechanized agricultural practice; Cyrus McCormick introduced a reaper and thereafter other machines were introduced. Some of these machines included harvesters, threshing machines, planters, and cutters. Another contributor of the improved productivity was the science and technology which saw the introduction of drought resistance crops and advanced methods of pest and disease control. The government allotted land to each state for the establishment of agricultural institute. These factors led to the explosion in production translating to increased population (A revolution in agriculture).
Mining was not a major economic activity in those days; minerals like coal were discovered in the 17th century and were mined mainly for domestic use. It is only in 1848 the underground coal mining was started at Belleville, Illinois. Southwest Wisconsin was a major source of lead which was used to manufacture guns, paints, windows. The west and the south retained agriculture as the major livelihood activity for the most part of the 19th century. A large amount of Lignite coal in the Western North Dakota brought a mining industry in that region. Many other industries were developed there after the establishment of the mining firm in Dakota (Sisson, Cayton and Zacher, 2007).
During that period, the main means of transport was through the use of rivers. People in the south and the west settled along the tributaries of the Mississippi River and they transported their farm produce on foot to the river banks where they were ferried to the markets using boats. The transport problem prompted the government to start the construction of national roads. An example is the road that linked the Potomac River and Ohio River at Virginia which was completed in 1818. Several others were completed at almost the same time but the cost of transportation of heavy and bulky goods remained high. The introduction of steam boat marked the first breakthrough into beating the transport crises. The construction of Erie Canal linking the Hudson River with Erie Lake was the greatest achievement in the search for economically viable transport means in those regions. Railway lines connecting the land to the rivers were also constructed; an example was the Baltimore-Ohio Railway which was the first one to be constructed. Later, the introduction of steam ship saw the volume of production further rising due to the available of a ready market globally (Murrin, 1996).
In the late 19th century, the region experienced a boost in the industrial production. In an era of industrial revolution, this saw the region transformed in all sectors including social, economic, politics as well as the landscape. Initially, it was characterized by rural subsistence farming which was all replaced by cities, industries, good road and railway networks. The simple subsistence methods of farming were replaced by mechanized method of agriculture. There were metropolitans that sprung up and the good transport networks enhanced the opening up of the interior regions which were initially unsettled. The revolution started with iron and steel which set the roadmap for the development of the rest of the infrastructures. Rail road and steam shipping provided a means for the transportation of the finished products in to the market. A textile industry that was put up in the north processed the cotton that was harvested in plentiful in the south. Mining and petroleum provided the industries with the raw materials that they required for their expansion. The discovery of large iron core made Alabama the center for many industries (Hillstrom and Hillstrom, 2007).
As can be seen, there were several changes that took place in the 19th century. There was a shift into mechanized labor from manual labor and agriculture staking claim as the major source of livelihood in the south. Industries were established later, while in the late 19th century the region experienced a boost in the industrial production. Roads were constructed and rail system introduced making it the dominant means of transport rather than the use of water.