New York – 1800s and Beyond

Establishing Education and Supporting the Abolition of Slavery

Image: Leonard Zhukovsky /

In the 1800s, the state of New York was a major supporter for causes which would help to ensure the entire nation’s progression, including women’s rights and the abolition of slavery. Its towns began to establish educational systems which, after a legislation signed by Governor William H Seward, included public education for all children regardless of race or gender. There were also many supporters of abolition that participated in the Underground Railroad, helping slaves attain freedom in Canada or within the state itself.

By the early 1840s, rights for free blacks had been expanded by Seward, and laws were passed protecting African-Americans against southern slave catchers. After 1863, when Lincoln issued the Emancipation proclamation, many freed slaves migrated to New York and began to compete for jobs. In July 1863, five days of large scale riots which targeted freed slaves, African-Americans and other supporters of abolition, caused many to move from Manhattan to Brooklyn and other areas of the state.

Financial, Agricultural and Manufacturing Industries

The end of The Civil War marked the beginning of New York’s dominance in the financial and banking industries, as well as a rise in manufacturing. The invention of hydroelectric power meant that the area surrounding Buffalo and Niagara Falls became an established factory site. Workers formed unions as early as the 1820s, and these had used their influence to regulate work hours by 1867. Agricultural output also began to peak in the state, and farmers changed their focus from crop based to dairy based produce. The cheese industry was established in the Mohawk Valley, and New York Harbor became the world’s oyster capital.

By 1900, as a result of being serviced by over a dozen major railroads, New York had become the richest and most densely populated state in America. A high amount of immigration continued and by 1925 its population had outnumbered that of London. With this growing number of people, the skyline of its major cities began to rise and New York became associated with skyscrapers. In 1913, The Woolworth Building became the tallest in the world, until it was surpassed by 40 Wall Street and The Chrysler Building in 1930, The Empire State Building in 1931, and the World Trade Center in 1972.

The Move from Industry to Technology

The ‘roaring twenties’ resulted in a further boom in the New York economy. However, the negative effects were equally devastating during The Great Depression, which began with the Wall Street crash in 1929. To re-establish the stock market, The Securities and Stock Exchange Commission opened in 1934.

WWII caused the state in excess of 31000 casualties and, as the nation’s largest, it was responsible for supplying the most resources. After the war ended, New York’s economy shifted towards providing services instead of goods. The middle class expanded and many jobs in technology became available, attracting young professionals to the state. Large companies have since established their headquarters in New York, and New York City has become one of the centres for the nation’s chic and refined culture.

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Wendy Saunders - Author

I am a romantic suspense author based in Hampshire in the UK

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