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What Was The Most Important Export From The United States By The Mid-nineteenth Century?

At the mid-nineteenth century, the United States was still a developing country, both politically and economically.

The United States had just achieved independence from Great Britain in 1776 and had gone through a series of wars, political changes, and crises that influenced its economy. The first of these crises was the War of 1812, which negatively impacted trade due to increased tariffs.

During this time period, the United States was still experimenting with what industries would be most beneficial to their country. One of the biggest discoveries was that meat was a large export item for the country.

Because of this discovery, cattle ranching became a big business in the US. This led to a large supply of beef entering into international markets at low prices due to the high supply. This article will discuss what the most important export from the US was by the mid-nineteenth century.


By the mid-nineteenth century, cotton had become the most important export from the United States. In 1820, cotton accounted for only 2 percent of all U.S. exports. By 1860, it made up almost 60 percent of all U.

S. exports and was worth almost $100 million (in current dollars).

Cotton was particularly important to Britain, whose textile industry depended on it. By one account, “cotton made England rich,” because of the wealth it produced in that country.

By making Britain rich as a whole, cotton helped dampen anti-Irish and anti-Scottish prejudices against workers in its textile mills by making their work more valuable overall; if the mills closed due to lack of cotton, the workers would suffer financially.

It also helped cement British dominance over India: one historian notes that “the British conquest of India was largely undertaken to guarantee a reliable supply of [cotton] fiber” as well as opium for trade with China.


By the mid-nineteenth century, tobacco had become one of the most important exports of the United States. Tobacco had first been introduced to the US in 1565, when Spanish explorers brought it to Florida.

As early as the 17th century, tobacco was an important cash crop in Virginia. By then, it was a major industry that employed a large proportion of the population. By 1700, tobacco was being exported to England and other countries.

By the 1800s, many plantations in Maryland and Virginia were owned by slave owners who grew tobacco as a cash crop for sale abroad. Indeed, according to some estimates, about half of all slaves in the US were involved in growing tobacco between 1776 and 1830.

Tobacco is an expensive crop to produce due to its extensive pre-harvesting processes. These processes include planting seeds, taking care of them before they are ready to be harvested, and harvesting them.


America was a rapidly growing nation, and that growth required energy. At the time, most of the world’s energy came from coal, which America had in abundance.

However, America did not have large amounts of silver, which was a crucial ingredient in producing silver nitrate, a chemical needed to process gold.

Since America had such a high demand for gold at the time due to its high value, it needed an adequate supply of silver to process the metal. Thus, American miners processed large amounts of shale and other less valuable minerals to obtain more silver.

Around this time, there was a significant drop in global gold supplies which further incentivized mining for gold-bearing minerals like silver. Due to its increasing value, more mines were established to extract it which led to an overall increase in supply.

Exotic fruits

During the nineteenth century, the United States was known for producing and exporting a few specific things. One of the most significant exports was lumber from forests in the Northeast.

America’s timber industry thrived as nations around the world needed wood for their expanding industries and growing cities. Increased demand led to higher prices, which encouraged more harvesting.

In addition to lumber, fruits such as oranges, bananas, and pineapples became quite popular as exotics imports. Interestingly enough, these crops were initially grown in the southern U.S., but colder weather caused production to drop and made exporting more difficult.

However, by the mid-nineteenth century, plantations in places such as South Carolina and Georgia were producing enough fruit to export some of it. This is part of why southern fruits became so popular on the international market.

Indiginous foods

By this time, the United States had developed its own cuisine, separate from that of Europe. As such, American cooks no longer relied on recipes from France or Italy for inspiration.

Instead, America’s growing population and demand for new foods led to the adoption of many new flavors and dishes. Most of these were borrowed from indigenous peoples, slaves, and other countries along the way.

The abundance of corn led to many recipes using that as a main ingredient. Thanks to the availability of butter, many dishes featured that as a main component. And thanks to the abundance of milk produced by cattle in America, lots of recipes used that as a topping or soaking agent.


Iron was one of the most important exports from the United States in the mid-nineteenth century. America had a large supply of iron, but it did not have many natural resources at this time.

The country was still developing its industry, and iron was a key component to developing other industries. At this time, steel was not widely used, so iron was the primary material needed.

Iron from the United States was shipped to Europe, where it received a good price. At this time, there were many wars happening in Europe, so there was always a demand for iron.

Shipping costs were also relatively low, allowing for more profits. Iron continued to be a major export until the twentieth century when other countries began to mine and export more ore than the U.S.

) Wood

As the United States expanded westward, the country grew rapidly in size and required a lot more lumber to build homes, businesses, and infrastructure.

By the mid-nineteenth century, lumber had become one of the nation’s most important exports. In fact, at one point, America supplied up to two-thirds of all of the world’s exported wood!

Thanks to new technologies such as railroads and steamboats, wood could be transported at a low cost to nearby markets in Europe and South America. This allowed for an influx of sales that helped boost the economy.

The production and exportation of wood impacted economies outside of the U.S., as well. Countries such as Germany and Poland relied heavily on American wood for their own building projects.

This article was written by user Switzy86 on Wikipedia.

Population growth

As mentioned before, the United States saw a large influx of people during this time period, and this migration was from several different continents.

People came to the United States for a variety of reasons. Some wanted to escape poverty or famine in their home country, some wanted to seek their fortune in the new world, and some just wanted to live in a more open society.

Whatever the reason, the United States saw a huge spike in its population due to immigration. By 1850, almost nine million people lived in the United States – almost as many as lived in all of France at the time!

The number of immigrants coming into the U.S. slowed at the end of the nineteenth century, but it never stopped entirely. Even today, people from all over the world come to America seeking a better life.


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