Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Dissertation




College of Arts and Sciences

First Advisor

Allison C. Marsh


As the United States looked forward to its future as an independent nation at the end of the eighteenth century, many saw commerce as a way to secure the nation’s future. American commerce, however, was plagued by a number of commercial problems. Solving these commercial problems facilitated an interest in science and the practical arts as engineers, inventors, mechanics, public officials, and everyday tinkerers innovated new apparatuses to preserve, promote, and protect American commerce. Many of America’s commercial problems in the early nineteenth century, however, resulted from the young nation’s varied geography and environments. Combating the environment’s unrelenting forces often exceeded the resources of private citizens and necessitated the involvement of the state. This can be seen in the advent of government agencies such as the Army Corps of Engineers, the Coast Survey, and the Light-House Establishment. Notwithstanding, the government’s involvement in practical science and innovation proceeded cautiously and unevenly. This caution and uneven involvement on the part of the government derived from societally held values of Jeffersonian republicanism. Republican values of civic duty, prudence, honesty, and self-reliance, thus shaped the government’s role in advancing practical science and the arts in the early nineteenth century United States.


© 2017, James Russell Risk

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