I believe that Carol Sheriff’s main argument for chapter one was to address commerce during the early 1800’s. Trade played a large role for settlers wanting to sell their surplus. Judge John Richards stated, “By this highway unborn millions will easily transport their surplus shores of the Atlantic, procure their supplies, and hold a useful and profitable intercourse with all the marine nations of the world” (Sheriff 9). Those in favor of the canal, such as investors, and men in legislature would say that it was farmers’ best interest to support the canal so that they would have the opportunity to sell their surplus agriculture. Smaller waterways supported the need for the Eerie to be built, it would create more job opportunities, create more communities, it would drastically lower the time and price to transport goods up and down the canal from 3 weeks down to 7 days.
Even though this would be beneficial to almost every member of the community who had ties to the trade market, farmers were not largely interested in making profit. Sheriff does a great job of not only voicing the opinions of men in higher positions but also more ‘common’ men. This brings up the idea of a moral economy. These farmers usually did not use cash during their transactions, but in a way they just kept tabs on what was owed/given for future transactions. Their main goal was to become an asset to their community and become independent and comfortable.
In class, we compared and contrast two images created not even a decade apart from on another. These images portrayed the use of a canal. In the earlier image you see large architectural bridges, a single home, and horses pulling the boat upstream. This image also focused on the river rather than their surroundings. In the second image we see less architectural design, but more practical design. There are more people in this photo implying that these Americans were part of a work-oriented community. You also see many homes in contrast to the first image. The building of the canal created communities surrounding ports and markets, thus creating more jobs.
Some of the questions asked in class were surrounded mostly by how and who was effected in a negative way if the canal were to be built. It is no surprise that not everyone was on board for a canal. We haven’t quite gotten to that part of the book yet but will be discussing it during our next class meeting. I would like to know more about why those appointed to overlook the canal were chosen besides them having an investment towards the building of the canal and their different political backgrounds. How did the community react to being taxed higher on some goods and also having to pay a toll in order to fund the canal?