1902 Encyclopedia > United States > United States - Railroads. Telegraphs. Postal Service. Foreign Commerce. Shipping.

United States
(Part 25)


Part 25. Railroads. Telegraphs. Postal Service. Foreign Commerce. Shipping.


The following figures show the construction of railroads in the United States , by decades: - 1830-40, miles; 1840-50, 5046; 1850-60, 20,110; 1860-70, 16,090; 1870-80, 41,454, 1880-85, 44,002,- giving a total of 128,967 miles.

Poor’s Railroad Manual gives the cost of the railroads constructed down to 1885 as $7,037,350, including equipment; capital stock, $3,817,697,832; bounded debt, $3,765,727,066; earnings for 1885 – from passengers, $200,883,911; from freight, $519,690,992; from all sources, $765,310,419; net earnings, $266,488,993; interest paid on bonds, $179,681,323; dividends paid on stock, $77,672,105.


The aggregate extent of telegraphic lines in the United States open for public business in 1887 exceeded 170,000 miles, besides railway, Government, private, and telephone lines, of which the extent is not known. By far the greater part of this business in the United States is in the hands of the Western Union Telegraph Company, the main features of whose operations at certain successive dates, are shown in the following table (XXI.): -


The average toll per message was 36.3 cents in 1887. since the construction of this table, the purchase of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad telegraph lines has brought the mileage of the Western Union to about 162,000, with over 580,000 miles of wire.


The following table (XXII.), from the latest annual report of the postmaster-general, exhibits the growth of the postal services: -


The full official statistical of the foreign commerce of the United States only begin with 1820. prior to that date considerable statistical material relating to trade and navigation was collected by Dr Seybert. Table XXIII. Exhibits the value of exports of domestic merchandise to foreign countries during each tenth year from 1820 to 1880, together with the part borne therein by the products of domestic agriculture. The table shows strikingly the constancy with which the exports of agricultural produce have maintained their share in the total exports during 60 years.

The following table (XXIV). Shows the value of all imports into the United States at intervals of five years from 1835 to 1880:-


In 1884, 1885, and 1886 respectively the total exports of merchandise amounted to $740,513,609, $742,189,755, and $679,524,830, and the imports to $667,697,693 $577,527,329, and $635,436,136. The same years the exports of gold and silver amounted to $67,133,383, $42,231,525, and $72,463,410 and the imports to $37,426,262, $43,242,323, and $38593,656.

The following table (XXV.) gives the value, in round millions of dollars, of leading exports of domestic agricultural during each fifth year since 1860:-


Table XXVI. p. 826, exhibits the value, in dollars, of the imports from, and exports to, each of the principal foreign countries in 1886.

The following are the eleven principal exporting cities, with the value of the goods going out through them in 1886, and percentage of total United States exports: - New York, 314 millions of dollars (49.26 per cent.) New Orleans, 83 (12.15); Boston, 54 (7.96); Baltimore, 36 (5.27); Philadelphia, 34 (4.97); San Francisco, 30 (4.45); Savannah, 20 (2.99); Charleston, 18 (2.6); Galveston, 17 (2.5);


Norfolk, 12 (1.17); Huron, Mich. 8 (1.22 per cent.). It thus appears that, of the aggregate exports from the United States, all but 7.92 per cent. (about 54 millions of dollars) go out from these eleven ports. By far the greater part of the exports of New Orleans, Savannah, Charleston, Galveston, and Norfolk consists of cotton. It is the shipment of this staple from Southern ports which increases the number of important exporting cities.

On the other hand, all but 8.48 per cent. of the imports, amounting to 54 millions, were in 1886 received at seven ports as follows: - New York, 419 millions of dollars (65.9 per cent of imports into United States); Boston, 58 (9.2); San Francisco, 37 95.8; Philadelphia, 37 (5.76); Baltimore, 12 (1.84); Chicago, 10 (1.6.); New Orleans, 8 (1.28 per cent.)

The following table (XXVII.) exhibits the division of the imports of 1886 into two classes as free or dutiable, with the amount of duty, collected on each of five principal groups of articles: -



Shipbuilding was one of the earliest arts developed in the American colonies, and was prosecuted in the United States with the highest success until iron steamers began to drive out wooden sailing vessels. The following table (XXVIII.) exhibits the tonnage of the merchants marine of the country at ten year intervals from 1790 to 1880:-


The decline in the American shipping interest since its maximum in 1860 is greater than would appear from the foregoing table, since the aggregate is kept up by the large lake, river, and coast fleets engaged in the coasting trade, which is by law confined to American vessels. The decline in registered tonnage, i.e., that engaged in ocean traffic, since 1860 is shown by the following figures: - 1860, 2,546,237 tons; 1865, 1,602,583; 1870, 1,516,800; 1875, 1,553,827; 1880, 1,352,810.

The decline above noted was due in the first instance to the war of 1861-65. About that time occurred the world-wide substitution of iron steamers for wooden sailing vessels or wooden steamers. In the new industry the American people have never achieved any marked success, while the law precludes the registering as American of vessels built abroad. Hence it is that the American merchant marine never recovered from the losses sustained between 1861 and 1865, and that the commerce of the country is carried on in an increasing proportion by foreign vessels. The latter fact is shown strikingly in the accompanying table (XXIX.) of exports and imports, in millions of dollars, carried in American and foreign vessels respectively.

In addition to the goods carried in vessels, about 57 million dollars’ worth were in 1885 carried in cars and other land vehicles.

Read the rest of this article:
United States - Table of Contents

About this EncyclopediaTop ContributorsAll ContributorsToday in History
Terms of UsePrivacyContact Us

© 2005-23 1902 Encyclopedia. All Rights Reserved.

This website is the free online Encyclopedia Britannica (9th Edition and 10th Edition) with added expert translations and commentaries