This trans-Appalachian highway provided both employment for new immigrants in its construction as well as a central artery for their westward migration, traveling across mountains and rivers and through the state capitals of Columbus and Indianapolis. Although originally planned to extend to St. Louis, political wrangling, the advent of the railroad, and the end of congressional support caused the road to terminate in central Illinois.
As early as 1802, U.S. Treasury secretary Albert Gallatin articulated the need for a National Road. In 1806, and with the support of President
Although local citizens and farmers were employed on the project, there was a significant coterie of recent Irish immigrants who followed the westward course of the road, some of whom worked as well on the building of the
Dunaway, Wilma A. The First American Frontier: Transition to Capitalism in Southern Appalachia, 1700-1860. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1996. Raitz, Karl B., ed. A Guide to the National Road. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1996.
History of immigration, 1783-1891
Iron and steel industry
Transportation of immigrants