Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name





Louisville (Ky.)--Economic conditions--19th century; Louisville (Ky.)--Commerce--History; Ohio River Valley--Commerce--History


The dominant theme in the study of any phase of Ohio River history is found in the great extent of the river system and the vast area of the drainage basin of the Mississippi to which this stream forms so important a part. The basin of the Mississippi, as has been aptly said, is the "Body of the Nation," all other parts of the nation being but members, important in themselves, yet more important in their relation to this.(1) In extent it is the second great valley of the world, being exceeded only by that of the Amazon.(2) In a large sense the Mississippi valley includes the whole interior basin, a province which drains into 2,000 miles of navigable water of the Mississippi itself, 2,000 miles of the tawny flood of the Missouri, and 1,000 miles of the Ohio, 5,000 miles of main water highway, together with fifty-three subordinate rivers, navigable by steamboats, and some hundreds that are navigable by flats and keels. With an area of nearly two and one half million square miles of drainage basin, this drainage basin exceeds in extent the whole of Europe, exclusive of Russia, Norway, and Sweden and is estimated to be able to support a population of two or three hundred million – three times the present population of the whole nation. Conceptions formed from the river basins of Western Europe are rudely shocked when we consider the extent of the valley of the Mississippi; nor are those formed from the sterile basins of the great rivers of Siberia, lofty plateaus of Central Asia, or the mighty sweep of the swampy Amazon more adequate.(3) Latitude, elevation, and rainfall all combine to render this valley by far the first place upon our globe as a dwelling place for civilized man.