Harvard University Press, There is more to the story of American Railroads, though, than that of well-crafted scholarly work. His statistical appendices, which totaled more than pages, indicate how rigorously he tackled the problem.
Colonial economy to s[ edit ] Shipping scene in Salem, Massachusetts, a shipping hub, in the s The colonial economy differed significantly from that of most other regions in that land and natural resources were abundant in America but labor was scarce. Population growth was responsible for over three-quarters of the economic growth of the British American colonies.
The free white population had the highest standard of living in the world. Under the colonial system Britain put restrictions on the type of products that could be made in the colonies and put restrictions on trade outside the British Empire.
Demographics[ edit ] Initial colonization of North America was extremely difficult and the great majority of settlers before died in their first year.
Settlers had to depend on what they could hunt and gather plus what they brought with them and on uncertain shipments of food, tools and supplies until they could build shelters and forts, clear land and grow enough food and build gristmills, sawmills, iron works and blacksmith shops to be self-supporting.
They also had to defend themselves against raids from hostile Indians.
After population growth was very rapid due to high birth rates 8 children per family versus 4 in Europe and lower death rates than in Europe, and immigration.
The death rate from diseases, especially malaria, was higher in the warm, humid southern colonies than in cold New England. The higher birth rate was due to better employment opportunities. Many young adults in Europe delayed marriage for financial reasons.
Also there were many servants in Europe who were not permitted to marry. Inthere were an estimated 13, black slaves. The economy[ edit ] The colonial economy of what would become the United States was pre-industrial, primarily characterized by subsistence farming.
Farm households also were engaged in handicraft production, mostly for home consumption, but with some goods sold. The most important agricultural exports were raw and processed feed grains wheat, Indian corn, rice, bread and flour and tobacco.
Dried and salted fish was also a significant export. Another export was potashwhich was derived from hardwood ashes and was used as a fertilizer and for making soap and glass.
The colonies depended on Britain for many finished goods, partly because laws prohibited making many types of finished goods in the colonies. These laws achieved the intended purpose of creating a trade surplus for Britain.
The colonial balance trade in goods was heavily in favor of Britain; however, American shippers were able to offset roughly half of the goods trade deficit with revenues earned by shipping between ports within the British Empire.
Wood in Britain was becoming scarce and coke was beginning to be substituted for charcoal; however, coke made inferior iron. Towns were located on or near the coasts or navigable inland waterways. Even on improved roads, which were rare during the colonial period, wagon transport was very expensive.
Economical distance for transporting low value agricultural commodities to navigable waterways varied but was limited to something on the order of less than 25 miles.
Except for slaves, standards of living were generally high—higher, in fact, than in England itself. All the provinces and many towns as well, tried to foster economic growth by subsidizing projects that improved the infrastructure, such as roads, bridges, inns and ferries.
They gave bounties and subsidies or monopolies to sawmills, grist mills, iron millspulling mills which treated clothsalt works and glassworks. Most important, colonial legislatures set up a legal system that was conducive to business enterprise by resolving disputes, enforcing contracts, and protecting property rights.
Hard work and entrepreneurship characterized the region, as the Puritans and Yankees endorsed the " Protestant Ethic ", which enjoined men to work hard as part of their divine calling.
The rapidly growing population led to shortages of good farm land on which young families could establish themselves; one result was to delay marriage, and another was to move to new lands farther west.
In the towns and cities, there was strong entrepreneurship, and a steady increase in the specialization of labor. Wages for men went up steadily before ; new occupations were opening for women, including weaving, teaching, and tailoring. The region bordered New France, and in the numerous wars the British poured money in to purchase supplies, build roads and pay colonial soldiers.
The coastal ports began to specialize in fishing, international trade and shipbuilding—and after in whaling.
Combined with growing urban markets for farm products, these factors allowed the economy to flourish despite the lack of technological innovation. The American Revolution cut off imports from Britain, and stimulated a manufacturing sector that made heavy use of the entrepreneurship and mechanical skills of the people.
In the second half of the 18th century, difficulties arose from the shortage of good farmland, periodic money problems, and downward price pressures in the export market. In agriculture there was a shift from grain to animal products.
He argues they grew from small villages to take major leadership roles in promoting trade, land speculation, immigration, and prosperity, and in disseminating the ideas of the Enlightenment, and new methods in medicine and technology. Furthermore, they sponsored a consumer taste for English amenities, developed a distinctly American educational system, and began systems for care of people meeting welfare.Get this from a library!
Railroads and American economic growth: essays in econometric history.
[Robert William Fogel]. This essay examines the link between infrastructure investment and US economic development. The work of economic historians has focused on two systems, transportation and sanitation. R.W. FogelRailroads and American economic growth: Essays in econometric history.
The Johns Hopkins Press, Baltimore () Galambos, L. CainAmerican. Paul Romer, “Why Indeed, in America? Theory, History, and Economic Growth,” American Economic Review, May , (*). Angus Maddison, , “A Comparison of Levels of GDP Per Capita in Developed and Developing Countries, , Journal of Economic History, March, (s).
This essay tells the story of that transformation and its effect on the practice of economic history. In recent years there has been a resurgence of interest in the field among historians, and the essay ends with a discussion of the potential that Economic history had its formal beginnings in the United States in the late nineteenth.
The American railroad mania began with the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad in and flourished until the Panic of bankrupted many companies and temporarily ended growth.
Although the South started early to build railways, it concentrated on short lines linking cotton regions to oceanic or river ports and the absence of an interconnected.
Robert W. Fogel, Railroads and American Economic Growth: Essays in Econometric leslutinsduphoenix.comore: Johns Hopkins Press, xv + pp.
Review Essay by Lance Davis, Division of Humanities and Social Sciences, California Institute of Technology.