America at the beginning of the 19th century was a rural country with a small population. Most people still clung to the Eastern Seaboard. European diplomats who were posted in Washington condidered it a hardship post. European navies (especially Britain and France) stopped American shippoig with impunity and impressed American sailors. American institutions such as universities, institutes, and academies were rudimrntary as was the financial system. America did not even have a national currency. Yet by the end of the decade, America haf become an industrial titan, surpassing European countries in poplations and productivity, both agricutural and industrial. Americ had a sophisticated financial system and one of the hardest currencies in the world. And unlike European counries, income was destibuted across a wide social spectrum. American workers had astanbdard of living unknown in Europe, measured not only in dollars, but key indicators like diet and residential living space. A key question economists and historians must ask is how all this occured. There are of course ,any important factors. Abundant natural resources, profuctive land, and the open frontier are of course factors. Other key factors are political democracy, free market capitalism, and a legal system based on English common law which protected property and rewarded innovation. Political stability and a system which rewarded investment attracted European capital to America, an especially important factor in developing an critical rail network. By tthe 1840s the construction of railwaysAmerica also had a small goverment and military, both which to consume a substantial part of national income in Europe, retarding economic growth. One has to ask why so many inventions and innovations came out of America in the 19th century, a country without Europe''s prestigious universities and academies. Some how American engendered a creative spirit in its people. People who worked with their hands as a result of both the eqalitarian impact of the Fronier and Jascksonian Denocracy had a status unknown in Europe. We see inventions like the dewing machine asnd the detachable collar in the 1840s.
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