The Erie Canal and Western Development Essay

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The Erie Canal and Western Development
To what extent did the construction and use of the Erie Canal impact the amount of western settlement and expansion in the United States?

A. Plan of the Investigation: The focus of the investigation is to what extent did the construction and use of the Erie Canal impact the amount of western settlement and expansion in the United States? The study will analyze how economic opportunities that began in 1825 with the completion of the Erie Canal, affected the westward immigration of settlers. The study will look at the various jobs that arose with the completion of the canal and the changes in demographics that came with economic opportunity. An increase in economic potential also led to
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There had been previous settlements of the West but they were miniscule compared to the large influx of population because of the ease of access to the West that came with the completion of the Canal (Condon 145). The Canal would serve as a "bond of Union" between the East and the West not only because of its physical connection, but also because of its political connection (Shaw 401), "... the Erie Canal itself, a technological mechanism designed to carry out the geopolitical function of the Constitution"(Seelye 263). Although it is generally thought the Canal was designed to increase trade into the West, its main purpose was to preserve the Union which had created it (Shaw396). The Canal provided the people with a sense of connection and communication to the West, making this vast territory seem less isolated (Seelye 250). The Canal united the two most populous and powerful portions of the United States and strengthened them more than any unifying national policies ever could (Shaw 402). The canal "pumped new blood into the frontier and gave it strength" fortifying the people who resided there and inviting others to come (Condon 139). A boat sent west along the Canal, nicknamed Noah's Ark, represented the taming of the wild Western terrain and the subduing of its human inhabitants. It symbolized the extension of civilization into the west and the possibilities that the Canal would enlighten (Sheriff 34). The demographics of population also point

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