By geographical position, the land of the Puritans was devoted to provincialism. While other sections merged into one another and even had a west in their own midst, New England was obliged to cross populous states in order to reach the regions into which national life was expanding; and her sons who migrated found themselves under conditions that weakened their old affiliations and linked their fortunes with the section which they entered. The ocean had dominated New England's interests and connected her with the Old World; the fisheries and carrying - trade had engrossed her attention until the embargo and the War of 1812 gave importance to her manufactures. In spirit, also, New England was a section apart, The impress of Puritanism was still strong upon her, and the unity of her moral life was exceptional. Moreover, up to the beginning of the decade with which we have to deal, New England had a population of almost unmixed English origin, contrasting sharply, in this respect, with the other sections. [Footnote: For the characteristics of New England in colonial times, see Tyler, England in America, chaps, xviii., xix.; Andrews, Colonial Self-Government, chaps, xviii., xix.; Greene, Provincial America, chaps, xii., xiii., xvi.-xviii.; Bassett, Federalist System, chaps, xi., xiii. (Am. Nation, IV., V., VI., XI.)].

With these peculiarities, New England often played an important sectional role, not the least effective instance of which had been her independent attitude in the War of 1812. [Footnote: Babcock, Am. Nationality (Am. Nation, XIII.), chap. ix.] By 1820, not only were profound economic and social changes affecting the section, but its relative importance as a factor in our political life was declining. [Footnote: Adams, United States, IX., chaps, iv., vii.] The trans- Allegheny states, which in 1790 reported only a little over one hundred thousand souls, at a time when New England's population was over one million, had in 1820 reached a population of nearly two millions and a quarter, while New England had not much over a million and a half. Ten years later, the latter section had less than two millions, while the western states beyond the Alleghenies had over three millions and a half, and the people northwest of the Ohio River alone numbered nearly a million and a half. In 1820 the total population of New England was about equal to the combined population of New York and New Jersey; but its increase between 1820 and 1830 was hardly three hundred thousand, not much over half that of New York, and less than the gain of Ohio. If Maine, the growing state of the group, be excluded, the increase of the whole section was less than that of the frontier state of Indiana. "Our New England prosperity and importance are passing away," wrote Webster at the beginning of the period. [Footnote: McMaster, Webster, 90.]

Were it not that New England was passing through a series of revolutionary economic changes, not fully appreciated at that time, doubtless the percentage of her growth would have been even more unfavorable. As it was, the rise of new manufactures helped to save her from becoming an entirely stationary section. In the course of the preceding two decades, New England's shipping industry had reached an extraordinary height, by reason of her control of the neutral trade during the European wars. The close of that period saw an apparent decline in her relative maritime power in the Union, but the shipping and commercial interests were still strong. New England possessed half the vessels owned in the United States and over half the seamen. Massachusetts alone had a quarter of the ships of the nation and over a third of the sailors. [Footnote: Pitkin, Statistical View (ed. of 1835), 350.] Of the exports of the United States in 1820, the statistics gave to New England about twenty per cent., nine-tenths of which were from Massachusetts. [Footnote: Shaler, United States, I., chap, x.; MacGregor, Commercial Statistics of America, 41, 58, 63, 72, 126, 133.] This is rather an under-estimate of the share of New England, because a portion of the commerce fitted out by her capital and her ships sought the harbor of New York.

Great as was New England's interest in the commercial policy of the United States, the manufactures of the section rose to such importance in the course of this decade that the policy of the section was divided. The statistics of the manufactures of the United States at the beginning and at the end of the period were so defective that little dependence can be placed upon them for details. But the figures for New England were more complete than for the other regions; the product of her cotton mills increased in value from two and one-half million dollars in 1820 to over fifteen and one-half millions in 1831; and her woolen products rose from less than a million dollars to over eleven million dollars. In Massachusetts alone, in the same years, the increase in cottons was from about seven hundred thousand dollars to over seven million seven hundred thousand dollars; and in woolens, from less than three hundred thousand dollars to over seven million three hundred thousand dollars. [Footnote: See Secretary of Treasury, Report, 1854-1855, PP-, 87-92; "Treasury Report," in House Exec. Docs., 22 Cong., i Sess., I., No. 308.]