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Conference Proceeding

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Indiana Academy of the Social Sciences Proceedings

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THE years that followed the War for Independence are commonly viewed as a period of rapid economic expansion. Deriving from such elements as a growing population, new foreign markets, increased capital resources, and a confident public spirit, this expansion is known to include a variety of new business ventures, notably in manufacturing and in transportation. Such new ventures are normally pictured in their business context, showing few political overtones apart from sporadic opposition by rural legislators.1 This latter emphasis may be mistaken, however, because many of these early innovative business ventures faced challenges in the form of local political controversies whose dynamics are a neglected aspect of the affairs of the Confederation era. The Essex Bridge of Massachusetts is an excellent case study in this regard.


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