During this period, New Orleans developed into one of the nation’s leading commercial centers. Between 1830 and 1860 it was also the second leading American port of entry for immigrants. New Orleans was the major market for Louisiana and other Gulf Coast areas and also for vast portions of the rapidly developing Ohio and Mississippi river valleys. By 1820, with a population of 27,176, New Orleans surpassed Charleston, South Carolina, as the largest city in the South; by 1860 its population reached 168,675. This growth was in spite of frequent yellow fever epidemics that were especially lethal to the European immigrants, who were most responsible for the city’s rapid growth.
Between 1815 and 1840 the volume of the city’s commercial traffic swelled astoundingly from $20 million to $200 million as New Orleans moved into second place, after New York City, as the nation’s leading port. Enormous quantities of cotton, tobacco, grain, and meat came down the Ohio and Mississippi rivers by steamboat, while sugar, coffee, and numerous imported manufactured items were shipped upriver to pioneer settlers.
Beginning about 1835 the building of canals and railroads connecting the Midwest with the Northeast resulted in the diversion of much of the Midwest’s grain and meat produce to Northeastern cities. As a result, New Orleans came to rely increasingly on cotton and sugar as export commodities. Another indication of the city’s closer ties with the South was that the slave trade became increasingly important in the city’s commerce. The growing political and economic power of New Orleans proved a liability because the remainder of the state pressured politicians to relocate the state capital. In 1849 the capital was moved to Baton Rouge. "Louisiana" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia
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