CHAPTER XIX. GROWTH OF THE COUNTRY, 1789-1805

PROSPERITY. - Twelve years had now elapsed since the meeting at New York of the first Congress under the Constitution, and they had been years of great prosperity.

When Washington took the oath of office, each state regulated its trade with foreign countries and with its neighbors in its own way, and issued its own paper money, which it made legal tender. Agriculture was in a primitive stage, very little cotton was grown, mining was but little practiced, manufacture had not passed the household stage, transportation was slow and costly, and in all the states but three banks had been chartered. [1]

With the establishment of a strong and vigorous government under the new Constitution, and the passage of the much-needed laws we have mentioned, these conditions began to pass away. Now that the people had a government that could raise revenue, pay its debts, regulate trade with foreign nations and between the states, enforce its laws, and provide a uniform currency, confidence returned. Men felt safe to engage in business, and as a consequence trade and commerce revived, and money long unused was brought out and invested. Banks were incorporated and their stock quickly purchased. Manufacturing companies were organized and mills and factories started; a score of canals were planned and the building of several was begun; [2] turnpike companies were chartered; lotteries [3] were authorized to raise money for all sorts of public improvements, - schools, churches, wharves, factories, and bridges; and speculation in stock and Western land became a rage.

NEW INDUSTRIES. - It was during the decade 1790-1800 that Slater built the first mill for working cotton yarn; [4] that Eli Terry began the manufacture of clocks as a business; that sewing thread was first made in our country (at Pawtucket, R.I.); that Jacob Perkins began to make nails by machine; that the first broom was made from broom corn; that the first carpet mill and the first cotton mill were started; that Eli Whitney invented the cotton gin; and that the first steamboat went up and down the Delaware.

THE COTTON GIN. - Before 1790 the products of the states south of Virginia were tar, pitch, lumber, rice, and indigo. But the destruction of the indigo plants by insects year after year suggested the cultivation of some other crop, and cotton was tried. To clean it of its seeds by hand was slow and costly, and to remove the difficulty Eli Whitney of Massachusetts, then a young man living in Georgia, invented a machine called the cotton gin. [5] Then the cultivation of cotton became most profitable, and the new industry spread rapidly in the South.

THE STEAMBOAT. - The idea of driving boats through water by machinery moved by steam was an old one. Several men had made such experiments in our country before 1790. [6] But in that year John Fitch put a steamboat on the Delaware and during four months ran it regularly from Philadelphia to Trenton. He was ahead of his time and for lack of support was forced to give up the enterprise.

THE NEW WEST. - In the western country ten years had wrought a great change. Good times in the commercial states and the Indian war in the West had done much to keep population out of the Northwest Territory from 1790 to 1795. But from the South population had moved steadily over the mountains into the region south of the Ohio River. The new state of Kentucky (admitted in 1792) grew rapidly in population.

North Carolina, after ratifying the Constitution, again ceded her Western territory, and out of this and the narrow strip ceded by South Carolina, Congress (1790) made the "Territory of the United States south of the river Ohio." But population came in such numbers that in 1796 the North Carolina cession was admitted as the state of Tennessee.

In the far South, after Spain accepted the boundary of 31°, Congress established the territory of Mississippi (1798), consisting of most of the southern half of the present states of Mississippi and Alabama. Four years later Georgia accepted her present boundaries, and the territory of Mississippi was then enlarged, so as to include all the Western lands ceded by South Carolina and Georgia (map, p. 242).

CLEVELAND. - Jay's treaty, by providing for the surrender of the forts along the Great Lakes, opened that region to settlement, and in 1796 Moses Cleveland led a New England colony across New York and on the shore of Lake Erie laid out the town which now bears his name. Others followed, and by 1800 there were thirty-two settlements in the Connecticut Reserve.

DETROIT. - The chief town of the Northwest was Detroit. Wayne, who saw it in 1796, described it as a crowded mass of one-and two-story buildings separated by streets so narrow that two wagons could scarcely pass. Around the town was a stockade of high pickets with bastions and cannon at proper distances, and within the stockade "a kind of citadel." The only entrances were through two gates defended by blockhouses at either end of a street along the river. Every night from sunset to sunrise the gates were shut, and during this time no Indian was allowed to remain in the town.

INDIANA TERRITORY. - After Wayne's treaty with the Indians, five years brought so many people into the Northwest Territory that in 1800 the western part was cut off and made the separate territory of Indiana. [7] Not 6,000 white people then lived in all its vast area.

The census of 1800 showed that more than 5,000,000 people then dwelt in our country; of these, nearly 400,000 were in the five Western states and territories - Kentucky, Tennessee, Northwest, Indiana, Mississippi.