In 1803, President Thomas Jefferson purchased the territory of Louisiana from the French government for $15 million. To Jefferson, westward expansion was the key to the nation’s health. The westward expansion of the United States is one of the defining themes of 19th-century American history. The availability of capital made new innovations and coastal waterways, which contributed to America's rapid industrialization. The early technological and industrial development in the United States was facilitated by a unique merging of geographical, social, and economic factors. The westward expansion was further developed through the inventions of the cotton gin, Erie Canal, and railroads.
In 1794, inventor Eli Whitney patented the cotton gin. The cotton gin is a machine that quickly and easily separates cotton fibers from their seeds, allowing for much greater productivity than manual cotton separation. The invention of the cotton gin revolutionized the production of cotton. It made cotton potentially cheap and an available resource in the United States for use in the new textile industry. Whitney's cotton gin developed the cotton industry in the United States, but also led to the growth of slavery in the American South as the demand for cotton workers rapidly increased. The invention was a contributing factor to the outbreak of the American Civil War. By the mid-19th century, cotton had become America’s leading export.
Opened in1825, the Erie Canal is considered the engineering marvel of the 19th Century. The iconic waterway established settlement patterns for most of the United States and made New York the financial capital of the world. It provided a critical supply line which helped the North win the Civil War. The Erie Canal triggered a series of social and economic changes throughout America.
In the 1860s, railroads were built across North America. Railroads provide year-round service and were a much safer mode of transport. The railroad became very...