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A Market Revolution

In the 1820s and 1830s, a market revolution was transforming American business and global trade. Factories and mass production increasingly displaced independent artisans. Farms grew and produced goods for distant, not local, markets, shipping them via inexpensive transportation like the Erie Canal. Government policies fostered the growth of capitalism. Cotton, produced by enslaved African Americans, was becoming America’s most profitable global product.

Illustration of workers spinning cotton, 1840

Illustration of workers spinning cotton, 1840

Courtesy of Yale University Art Gallery

Eli Terry Mantel Clock, around 1824

Eli Terry Mantel Clock, around 1824

Eli Terry and his associates developed ways to mass produce quality, low-cost clocks using waterpower and interchangeable parts. Their techniques transformed clock making from a craft to a factory process. Other industries soon copied the technique.
Gift of James Arthur Collection, New York University

Patent Model, 1837

Patent Model, 1837

The American government promoted innovation and protected inventions with patents, which helped inventors profit from their creativity. To secure this protection, inventors had to submit working models to the Patent Office. This model illustrated new ideas for silk spinning and twisting.
Transfer from U.S. Patent Office

Commemorative Plates, 1824–1825

Commemorative Plates, 1824–1825

Keepsakes like these plates reminded Americans of heroes and national achievements.
Gift of Ellouise Baker Larsen Collection of American Historical Staffordshire China

Decanter, 1828

Decanter, 1828

Lauded on this decanter, “The American System” was a controversial program of fostering American industry by stimulating internal improvements and charging high tariffs on imported goods.