New York, state, United States: Land Speculation and Commercial Development

Land Speculation and Commercial Development

By the end of the war many Loyalists had left New York; the emigrants included former large landowners whose holdings had been seized by the legislature. After the war speculation in W New York land (some newly acquired by quieting Massachusetts claims) rose to dizzying heights. The eastern boundary of the state was established after long wrangles and violence when Vermont was admitted as a state in 1791.

From the 1780s increased commerce (somewhat slowed by the Embargo Act of 1807) and industry, especially textile milling, marked the turn away from the old, primarily agricultural, order. It was on the Hudson that Robert Fulton demonstrated (1807) his steamboat. In the War of 1812 New York saw action in 1813–14, with the British capture of Fort Niagara and particularly with the brilliant naval victory of Thomas Macdonough over the British on Lake Champlain at Plattsburgh.

The state continued its development, which was quickened and broadened by the building of the Erie Canal. The canal, completed in 1825, and railroad lines constructed (from 1831) parallel to it made New York the major East-West commercial route in the 19th cent. and helped to account for the growth and prosperity of the port of New York. Cities along the canal (Buffalo, Syracuse, Rome, Utica, and Schenectady) prospered. Albany grew, and New York City, whose first bank had been established by Hamilton in 1784, became the financial capital of the nation.

Sections in this article:

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2024, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

See more Encyclopedia articles on: U.S. Political Geography