4.5 Market Revolution: Industrialization

7 min readdecember 23, 2022

Robby May

Robby May


Sally Kim

Milo Chang

Milo Chang

AP US History 🇺🇸

454 resources
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The Market Revolution marked Americans moving away from self-sufficient agriculture to production of goods for sale. Entrepreneurs played a key role in driving this economic transformation. Many of them embraced new technologies and business models, and they sought out new markets and opportunities for expansion.
For example, the development of steam-powered engines and railroads made it possible for entrepreneurs to build large-scale transportation networks, connecting the East Coast with the West and enabling the growth of commerce and industry across the country.
The market revolution also had a significant impact on the way people lived and worked. The growth of industry and commerce led to the development of new forms of transportation, such as steamboats and railroads, which made it easier for people to travel and for goods to be transported from one place to another.
The market revolution also contributed to the growth of cities and the development of a consumer culture, as people had more disposable income to spend on goods and services.
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The Industrial Revolution occurred in Britain, and machines could effectively be used to create thread and fabric faster. This boosted the textile markets. The growth of the textile industry in Britain during the Industrial Revolution had a significant impact on demand for cotton from the United States. As the demand for textiles increased, so did the demand for raw materials, such as cotton. The United States was a major producer of cotton, and the demand for this commodity from Britain and other countries helped to fuel the growth of the cotton industry in the United States.
The Industrial Revolution reached the United States in the early 19th century, leading to the development of new technologies and manufacturing processes that greatly increased the efficiency and output of industry. This, in turn, led to the growth of large-scale enterprises and the emergence of a market economy in which the production and exchange of goods was guided by the principles of supply and demand.


Some of the key innovations that were introduced during this time include:
  • Textile machinery: The invention of the power loom and other textile machinery greatly increased the efficiency of the textile industry and led to the growth of large-scale factories.
  • Steam engines: The development of steam engines revolutionized transportation and industry, making it possible to power ships, trains, and factories with steam instead of horses or other animals. The development of steam-powered engines made it possible to power cotton mills and other factories with steam instead of water or other sources of power. This made it easier to produce and process cotton on a large scale, and it contributed to the growth of the cotton industry.
  • Interchangeable parts: The development of interchangeable parts made it possible to mass-produce goods more efficiently and at a lower cost.
  • The telegraph: The telegraph was a revolutionary new communication technology, patented by Samuel Morse, that made it possible to transmit messages over long distances almost instantly. By sending electrical signals through wires, news could travel faster than ever before.
  • Agricultural inventions: A number of innovations were introduced during this time that helped to increase the efficiency and productivity of agriculture, including new types of plows, harvesters, and threshing machines. The McCormick reaper harvested grain faster and made wheat cheaper. The cotton gin, which was invented by Eli Whitney in 1793, was a machine that separated the seeds from raw cotton fiber, greatly increasing the efficiency of the process and making it possible to produce larger quantities of cotton.

Roads, Canals, and Railroads

The United States government took a number of steps to support the development of transportation infrastructure, including roads, canals, and railroads. This was done through legislation and judicial systems that provided funding and legal frameworks for the construction and operation of these transportation networks.
The development of transportation networks played a key role in extending and enlarging markets and fostering regional interdependence. By making it easier to transport goods and people from one place to another, these networks helped to connect different regions of the country and facilitated the growth of commerce and industry.
However, it is worth noting that the transportation networks that were developed during this time tended to link the North and Midwest more closely than they linked regions in the South. This was due in part to the fact that the South was primarily an agricultural region, while the North and Midwest were more industrialized.
As a result, the transportation infrastructure in the North and Midwest was more developed, and these regions were more closely connected to each other and to the rest of the country. In contrast, the South remained relatively isolated and had fewer transportation links to other regions.


Prior to this time, the majority of roads in the United States were dirt or mud paths that were often impassable in inclement weather. However, as the country's population and economy grew, there was an increasing need for better transportation infrastructure.
To meet this need, the government began to invest in the construction and improvement of roads. In 1806, Congress established the National (Cumberland) Road, which was a major east-west route that ran from Cumberland, Maryland to Vandalia, Illinois. The National Road was the first federally funded road in the United States, and it was paved with stone, making it one of the first all-weather roads in the country. It was a major route to the west, extending more than a 1000 miles from Maryland to Illinois.
In addition to the National Road, a number of other roads were built or improved during this time, including the Philadelphia and Lancaster Turnpike and the Great Western Turnpike. Pennsylvania’s Lancaster Turnpike connected Philadelphia with the rich farmlands around Lancaster. These roads were often toll roads, and the fees collected from users were used to pay for their construction and maintenance.

Engraving based on W.H. Bartlett, “Lockport, Erie Canal,” 1839. Wikimedia.


The completion of the Erie Canal led to a canal-building boom. The Erie Canal ran from Albany, New York to Buffalo, New York, and it provided a transportation route between the East Coast and the Great Lakes region. The Erie Canal was a major engineering feat of the time, and it greatly increased the efficiency of transportation between these two regions, making it easier to move goods and people from one place to another.
In addition to the Erie Canal, a number of other canals were built or improved during this time, including the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal, the Morris Canal, and the Delaware and Raritan Canal. These canals provided transportation routes between different parts of the country and facilitated the growth of commerce and industry.
By 1835, canals connected most rivers and lakes east of the Mississippi River. It allowed for a decrease in food prices and migration towards the West. But it was short-lived since railroads proved to be better transportation.


Railroads could send products directly and became the best form of transportation. The first railroad chartered in the United States was the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, which was chartered in 1827 and began operating in 1830.
In the decades that followed, the railroad network in the United States expanded rapidly. A number of new railroads were built, including the New York and Erie Railroad, the Pennsylvania Railroad, and the Boston and Maine Railroad. These railroads provided transportation routes between different parts of the country and helped to facilitate the growth of commerce and industry.
Railroads made any city a trading center, so companies took advantage of this by building railroads and towns nearby. Railroads were more common in the North than in the South.
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Interregional Trade

The growth of the cotton industry in the Southern United States played a significant role in the development of national and international commercial ties. The demand for cotton, which was used to make a wide range of products, including clothing, bedding, and other household goods, was high, and Southern cotton producers were able to meet this demand by increasing production.
The growth of the cotton industry in the South had a number of knock-on effects on other parts of the country. For example, it helped to fuel the growth of the manufacturing, banking, and shipping industries in the North. Cotton was a major export for the United States, and Northern banks and shipping companies played a key role in financing and transporting it to other countries. The growth of these industries, in turn, helped to further strengthen the commercial ties between the North and South and between the United States and other countries.
Slavery played a significant role in the economic and social development of the United States during this period. In the South, where the vast majority of the nation's enslaved population lived, slave labor was used to produce a number of crops, including cotton, tobacco, and rice.
These crops were grown on large plantations and were important exports for the United States, helping to fuel the growth of industries such as manufacturing, banking, and shipping in the North.
The use of slave labor was central to the economic success of the Southern plantation system, and it was an integral part of the market economy that developed in the United States during this time. However, it is important to recognize that slavery was an inhumane system that denied enslaved people their basic human rights and freedoms. It was also a major source of conflict and division in the United States, and ultimately led to the Civil War.
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