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The Paths of Inland Commerce; a chronicle of trail, road, and waterway   By: (1873-1933)

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Archer Butler Hulbert’s The Paths of Inland Commerce: A Chronicle of Trail, Road, and Waterway takes readers on a captivating journey through the history of transportation in America. Spanning from the early colonial times to the late 19th century, this detailed exploration sheds light on the development of trails, roads, and waterways, which played a crucial role in shaping the nation’s economic growth.

One of the book’s greatest strengths lies in Hulbert’s ability to seamlessly weave together historical facts with captivating narratives. His writing style effortlessly transports readers back in time, allowing them to witness firsthand the challenges faced by early pioneers and merchants who were driven by the ambition to connect different regions and foster commerce. Through vivid descriptions, Hulbert vividly portrays the perseverance and ingenuity required to overcome geographical obstacles and build vital transportation routes.

Furthermore, Hulbert’s deep knowledge of the subject matter is evident throughout the book. He leaves no stone unturned, meticulously covering each significant development in inland transportation. From the early Native American trails to the construction of canals and railroads, the author provides a comprehensive overview of the various methods employed by settlers to transport goods and expand trade. The meticulous research is apparent in the abundance of historical accounts, primary sources, and detailed firsthand anecdotes that pepper the text.

Hulbert’s exploration of the socioeconomic impacts of these transportation advancements is also a standout feature of the book. He skillfully illustrates how the success or failure of trade routes greatly influenced the growth and ultimate fate of cities and towns. The rise and fall of important trading posts and the impact of new transportation modes on industries such as agriculture and manufacturing are thoughtfully analyzed. In doing so, Hulbert highlights the interconnectedness between transportation, commerce, and the overall development of the nation.

One potential drawback of The Paths of Inland Commerce is its sheer volume of information. At times, the wealth of historical facts and figures may overwhelm readers who are unfamiliar with the topic. However, Hulbert’s accessible writing style and ability to draw the reader into captivating stories ultimately compensates for this potential challenge.

In conclusion, Archer Butler Hulbert’s The Paths of Inland Commerce is a comprehensive and engaging exploration of America’s transportation history. Hulbert’s meticulous research, combined with his captivating storytelling and insightful analysis, make this book an invaluable resource for anyone interested in understanding the pivotal role transportation played in shaping the country. Whether you are a history buff or simply curious about the origins of America’s transportation network, The Paths of Inland Commerce is a must-read.

First Page:



By Archer B. Hulbert


If the great American novel is ever written, I hazard the guess that its plot will be woven around the theme of American transportation, for that has been the vital factor in the national development of the United States. Every problem in the building of the Republic has been, in the last analysis, a problem in transportation. The author of such a novel will find a rich fund of material in the perpetual rivalries of pack horseman and wagoner, of riverman and canal boatman, of steamboat promoter and railway capitalist. He will find at every point the old jostling and challenging; the new pack horsemen demolishing wagons in the early days of the Alleghany traffic; wagoners deriding Clinton's Ditch; angry boatmen anxious to ram the paddle wheels of Fulton's Clermont, which threatened their monopoly. Such opposition has always been an incident of progress; and even in this new country, receptive as it was to new ideas, the Washingtons, the Fitches, the Fultons, the Coopers, and the Whitneys, who saw visions and dreamed dreams, all had to face scepticism and hostility from those whom they would serve.

A. B. H.

Worcester, Mass., June, 1919.


I. THE MAN WHO CAUGHT THE VISION II... Continue reading book >>

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