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On the Eve of War

On the Eve of War
By 1850 the United States had already begun the transition from an agricultural to an industrial economy. In the cities and mill towns of the North, hundreds of thousands of Americans worked to produce everything from shoes and textiles to railroad engines, guns, and iron.

In 1825 the Erie Canal had forged an important trade and travel link between the North and West. Railroads began to grow explosively, reinforcing this link. In the mid-1830s less than 500 miles of railroad track were in service nationwide. By 1840, that number had risen to 2,808. And by 1850, 9,021 miles of track carried farm crops and raw materials eastward from the plains, and settlers and finished goods West.

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