Evaluate the extent to which transportation innovation contributed to
American national unity in the period from 1800 to 1860.
Source: Robert Fulton, inventor, to Albert Gallatin, Secretary of the Treasury,
Having . . . considered the advantages which canals will produce in point of
wealth to individuals and the nation, I will now consider their importance to
the union and their political consequences.
. . . Numerous have been the speculations on the duration of our union, and
intrigues have been practiced to sever the western from the eastern states.
The opinion endeavored to be inculcated, was, that the inhabitants beyond
the mountains were cut off from the market of the Atlantic states; that
consequently they had a separate interest, and should use their resources to
open a communication to a market of their own; that remote from the seat of
government they could not enjoy their portion of advantages arising from the
union, and that sooner or later they must separate and govern for
. . . What stronger bonds of union can be invented than those which enable
each individual to transport the produce of his industry 1,200 miles for 60
cents the hundred weight? Here then is a certain method of securing the
union of the states, and of rendering it as lasting as the continent we inhabit.
Source: President John Quincy Adams, inaugural address, March 1825.