Technological Improvements and Their Impact in America

1330 Words3 Pages
Improvements in agriculture, transportation, and communication between 1790 and 1860 were the stepping stones for a greater America. From the cotton gin, to the steamboat, to the telegraph, new innovations were appearing all over. America had finally begun to spread its wings and fly. Due to the fact that cotton had to be separated by hand, it was costly commodity. One person could barely separate a pound by hand over the course of a day. It was not until 1793, when Eli Whitney invented the cotton gin that production of cotton soared. A worker on a plantation could now produce fifty pounds of cotton a day, instead of just one. With the increase in cotton production, came the increase in slave labor, which was used to harvest the cotton crop, making each slave an increasingly valuable asset. Westward migration was also seen as cotton spread throughout western land like a wildfire. Almost immediately, cotton was transformed into a major export. ?Cotton exports averaged about $9 million annually from 1803 to 1807, about 22 percent of the value of all exports, from 1815 to 1819, they averaged over $23 million, or 39 percent of the total, and from the mid-1830s to 1860, they accounted for more than half the value of all exports in the nation.? (Tindall and Shi, 418) Eli?s invention inspired other people to attempt to make their own farming tools. ?The development of effective iron plows greatly eased the backbreaking job of tilling the soil.? (Tindall, 419) In 1819, Jethro Wood improved the iron plow by using separate replaceable parts. Improvements thereafter included John Deere?s steel plow (1837) and the chilled-iron steel plow of John Oliver (1855). In 1831, a primitive grain reaper was invented by Cyrus McCormi... ... middle of paper ... ...l Morse?s 1832 invention. It is quite possible that more social changes were triggered by the telegraph, than from any other invention. Before the telegraph, communications were delivered by boat, train, horseback, or hand. Now, news and messages could be received immediately. Together, the improvements in agriculture, transportation, and communication changed the ways of economic, social, and political life. By the 1850s, farming had become a leading commercial activity. The standard of living for many farm families also improved. ?Undeveloped land dotted with scattered farms, primitive roads, and modest local markets was transformed into an engine of capitalist expansion, audacious investment, and global reach.? (Tindall, 432) Tindall, George Brown and David E. Shi. America: A Narrative History. Vol. One. 7th ed. New York: W W Norton & Company, 2007.
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