Economic Development During the Early-Nineteenth Century

This paper was written while I was in 11th grade at Winchester Thurston School for American History with Dr. Michael Naragon.

Carlos Macasaet
January 10, 2000
Economic Development During the Early-Nineteenth Century

In the years from 1840 to 1860, the population of New York increased. In 1840, the population of New York was 2,428,921. In 1850, the population had increased by approximately 23 percent and in 1860, by approximately 60 percent. In 1840, 97.9 percent of the population was white, the rest of the population consisted of free colored people and foreign-born persons. In 1850, the white population increased to 98.4 percent of the total population and rose slightly to 98.7 percent of the total population in 1860. This shows that in the period from 1840 to 1860, the population of New York did not become more racially diverse but rather became more pre-dominantly white.

During this time, there was an increase in the agriculture industry. From 1850 to 1860[1], the number of farms increased by 15 percent. While the number of acres of farmland only increased by approximately 9 percent, the value of the farming tools increased by approximately 32 percent. This shows that the farmers began using more technology to farm their land. Because of this, the cash value of the farms increased by approximately 45 percent.

There was also an increase in manufacturing during this time. However, while the number of people involved in manufacturing increased by 15 percent from 1840 to 1850 and another 15 percent from 1850 to 1860, the percentage of the population involved in manufacturing went from 7.1 percent in 1840 to 6.4 percent in 1850 to 5.9 percent in 1860. This shows that there was not a large shift to the manufacturing industry (people did not quit their jobs for jobs in manufacturing). However, the drastic population increase and the 52 percent increase of foreign-born persons from 1850 to 1860, implies that many people relocated to New York for jobs in the manufacturing industry. The increase in the value of the annual product in manufacturing — a 66 percent increase — as well as the extreme urbanization in New York. New York, NY experienced the greatest population increase[2] and out of 60 counties, it had 21 percent of the population in 1860 corroborates this. It is also important to note that only the census information for 1860 divides the number of people employed in manufacturing into men and women.

There was also an increase in education to accompany the increase in population as indicated by schools of the time. The number of universities or colleges in New York went from 12 in 1840 to 18 in 1850[3].Also, the number of students in universities or colleges increased by 108 percent. The number of academies and grammar schools also increased by 76 percent and the number of students attending these schools increased by 42 percent. While there was no census information available about primary and common schools for the years of 1850, based on the increase of students of academies and grammar schools, it can be assumed that approximately 710,000 students attended primary or common schools.

[ 1 ] There was no information available for the year 1840.
[ 2 ] See attached graph.
[ 3 ] There was no census information available about schools for 1860.

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