New York – History of an Influential State

As one of the original 13 colonies of the United States, New York has played an important part in the country’s development. The area was first colonised by the Dutch at the beginning of the 1600s, with the British taking control by 1664 and renaming the colony, New York.

The American Revolution

The American Revolution was the result of the rebellion by the original colonies, for their independence. New York became the scene of the largest battle of the war, The Battle of Long Island, which was fought in 1776. It resulted in the British defeating the Continental Army and regaining control of New York City. The turning point of the war once again took place in New York, The Battle of Saratoga, when the rebels regained control in 1777. After this The New York Constitution was drafted, which influenced the Constitution of the United States.

The Nation’s Capital

New York became the country’s capital intermittently between 1785 and 1790. On July 26, 1788 it became the 11th state to join the Union, and George Washington, the nation’s first president was inaugurated in front of Federal Hall a year later. This prompted the first sitting of the United States Supreme Court, in New York. By 1797, Albany had become the state’s permanent capital, and continues to remain so.

A Centre for Transportation and Immigration   

By the beginning of the 1800s, New York had become a centre for advancements in transportation. The first successful steamboat line, which ran from New York City to Albany, was established by Robert Fulton in 1807. By 1815, Albany had become the state’s turnpike centre and a major route for migration to the west. In addition, The Mohawk and Hudson Railroad located in New York, was the beginning of the country’s regularly scheduled steam railroad.

The Eerie Canal, which linked The Atlantic Ocean with The Great Lakes, provided the opportunity for economic and political advancement for the state. It also became a market for agricultural goods which were exported from the interior.

New York’s growth rate was one of the highest in the US, and by 1840 seven of the country’s 30 largest cities were located in the state. It became a prominent point of entry for those migrating to the country, including many Irish families, who were affected by their country’s potato famine in the 1840s. Other immigrants included Germans, Italians, Jews and Poles. It is estimated that between 1855 and 1890, approximately 8 million immigrants passed through Castle Clinton at Battery Park in Manhattan. The statue of liberty became known as the ‘Mother of Exiles,’ and became a symbol of hope to many of those entering the country.

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