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Steamboat

Steamboat

In Lincoln's youth steamboats had represented the national marketplace and society that so intrigued the farm boy. Plying the nation's navigable rivers, steamboats carried travelers, goods, and news between communities and facilitated the rapid growth of commerce that characterized the antebellum era. But by the time Lincoln returned to the practice of law in 1850, steamboats faced a serious challenger for primacy in American transportation. By the late 1840s new railroads had begun to connect communities formerly removed from trade to the national marketplace. Where steamboats only served river towns like Pittsburgh, St. Louis, and New Orleans, railroads promised to introduce landlocked Americans to economic development.

Permission: Public domain
©Copyright 2002 Abraham Lincoln Historical Digitization Project