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America built itself with Gold
The American transportation system was only possible because investment was secure under the Gold Standard
Maps tell us many more things than mere geography. They can also reveal the scope of cultural and economic change. The 19th Century in the United States was a time of tremendous economic growth in the United States. I have shared elsewhere a post by Peter St. Onge where he opines about what America would be like if we returned to the Gold Standard (link below). The answer was we would see a massive economic revival. The map below should give you some idea of that. At the beginning of the 19th Century, the area which now contains the continental United States was still pretty much an untamed wilderness. At the beginning of the century, Lewis and Clark undertook a two-year journey from St. Louis to the Pacific Ocean and back. They nearly perished in the Bitterroot mountain wilderness. Travel was dangerous and efficient for nothing more than adventure. But Lewis and Clark fulfilled their mission and cut a path for future growth and prosperity in the new country. By the end of the century, the West could be traveled in just a few days by train. Professor St. Onge argues that the Gold Standard played a significant role in investment, scientific advancement, and overall prosperity which fed this new opportunity. That can be visualized in part by this map.
From 1800 to the 1830s and beyond, massive canal systems were developed everywhere. There is one that reaches Washington, DC to this day that goes all the way up to Pittsburgh. The most famous of these was The Erie Canal that connected Albany, NY to the Great Lakes connecting another that reached New York City and the Atlantic Ocean. They vastly increased economic activity and helped fuel overall economic growth in the early part of the century.
By the mid 19th Century, investments in an American railroad system began leading to the Transcontinental Railroad which connected the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans and every major city in between in 1869.
All of this was possible because we had a stable currency that fosters investment and allowed those investments to flourish in an environment where Americans could build personal financial security which could be maintained and growing free from the robbery of massive inflation.