The first improvements in transportation in the post-War of 1812 era were locally sponsored toll roads, but the most dramatic difference came with the application of the steam engine to transportation. The limitations of steamboats depended on existing waterways, a problem that will be somewhat resolved by the construction of canals. As discussed in Chapter 10, the nation experienced a transportation and communication revolution, and technological advances will permanently change manufacturing. However, it will be the railroad system that joins the east and west. Expansion of the rail system linked northeastern cities to the western frontier, and the western territories and states to the eastern seaboard. However, few lines crossed the Mason-Dixon Line to link the northern and southern economies.
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In your opinion, did the construction of a railroad system unify, or divide the nation? (You can also argue how it did both.) Explain your position.
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