In the rapidly growing states of Kentucky and Tennessee and in southern Ohio

In the rapidly growing states of kentucky and

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their own hands. In the rapidly growing states of Kentucky and Tennessee and in southern Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois,settlers paid premium prices for farmland near the great Ohio and Mississippi rivers and their tributaries. And speculators bought up property in the cities along their banks: Cincinnati, Louisville, Chattanooga, and
Building a Transportation Infrastructure...Printed Page 231[Notes/Highlighting]Public Enterprise: The Commonwealth SystemLegislative support for road and canal companies reflected the ideology of mercantilism: government-assisted economic development. Just as the British Parliament had used the Navigation Acts to spur prosperity, so American legislatures enacted laws “of great public utility” that would increase the “common wealth.” These statutes generally took the form of special charters that bestowed legal privileges. For example, most transportation charters included the power of eminent domain, which allowed turnpike,bridge, and canal corporations to force the sale of privately owned landalong their routes. State legislatures also aided capitalist flour millers and textile manufacturers, who flooded adjacent farmland as they built dams to power their water-driven machinery. In Massachusetts, the Mill Dam Act of 1795 deprived farmers of their traditional right under common law to stop the flooding and forced them to accept “fair compensation” for their lost acreage.Judges approved this state-ordered shift in property rights. “The establishment of a great mill-power for manufacturing purposes,” Justice Lemuel Shaw intoned, was “one of the great industrial pursuits of the commonwealth.”Critics condemned the privileges given to private enterprises as “Scheme[s] of an evident antirepublican tendency” as some “freeholder citizens” in Putney, Vermont, put it. The award of “peculiar privileges” to corporations,they argued, not only violated the “equal rights” of all citizens but also lessened the power of the government. As a Pennsylvanian explained,“Whatever power is given to a corporation, is just so much power taken from the State.” Nonetheless, judges in state courts, following the lead of John Marshall’s Supreme Court (see Chapter 7), consistently upheld corporate charters and grants of eminent domain to private transportation companies.“The opening of good and easy internal communications is one of the highest duties of government,” declared a New Jersey judge.State mercantilism soon spread beyond transportation. Following Jefferson’s embargo of1807, which cut off goods and credit from Europe, the New England states awarded charters to two hundred iron-mining, textile-manufacturing, and banking companies, and Pennsylvania granted more than eleven hundred. By 1820, innovative state governments had created a republican political economy: a commonwealth

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