Industrialization after the Civil War
Industrial growth in the United States started in early 1800s and continued throughout the Civil War. However, the industries were still undeveloped even after the war. They relied mainly on manual labor and production capacity was limited. Businesses were small and could only serve a small market. However, the situation changed drastically between 1860 and 1920. After the Civil War, industrialization of the United States improved life conditions of the Americans through technological innovations, variety of employment opportunities and enhanced living standards, although it did have its disadvantages (Schultz, 2014).
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Industrialization in the U.S between 1867 and 1920 was developing in three dimensions; economy, society, and politics. The U.S transformed from the agrarian to the urban economy and later to the industrial economy. The economy reorganized from small privately owned firms to larger international corporations. The manner through which businesses used to operate drastically changed.
Business structures were associated with bureaucratic and hierarchical processes due to sophisticated activities in corporations (Murrin et al., 2011). Businesses grew through horizontal and vertical integration that increased the fear of monopolist power. One of the significant events that led to the changes in the economy was the replacement of the water power by steam power. Steel equipment in turn replaced iron and wooden tools.
Various technological inventions such as light bulb that was invented by Thomas Edison fueled the growth of businesses since they could operate for long during night hours. Alexander Graham also invented telephone that improved the mode of communication and provided great opportunities. Women ceased to stay at home as housewives; they received jobs in the industries and helped to earn income for their families.
The invention of typewriter created more jobs for women in offices (Schultz, 2014).The economy grew further due to the expansion of infrastructures such as railway line and roads. Industrialization led to the construction of railway connecting West and the East Coasts. The railway line made transportation of goods and raw materials more efficient. It also helped to transport workers from the East to the West.
The society changed from keeping farms to working in urban areas at the factories as a result of mechanization of agriculture industries. The population grew due to the immigrants who came from all over the world to work at the factories. Immigrants were poor and worked for small wages which forced them to labor for long just to sustain their families (Dubofsky & Dulles, 2010).
The immigrants were discriminated against by Americans due to their acceptance to work in poor conditions and for low wages. Most women, especially African American, worked as servants. As the industries were developing, the US witnessed abundance of children labor, which negatively affected young generation. Life for farmers became harder due to the increased costs of land, huge debts, and declining crop prices (Pardey et al., 2006).
Before industrialization, workers could not bargain for their rights as employees. Political stand in terms of labor changed after the formation of labor unions during industrialization era. In 1869 workers in America formed Knight of Labor (Murrin et al., 2011). Later Knight of Labor disintegrated to form (AFI) American Federation of Labor. Only a few of the presidents during this era were able to rule for more than one term. They were corrupted and considered as weak and business oriented.
Industrialization after the Civil War in the United States has greatly impacted the life of the Americans. Industrialization changed the social, political, and economic status of the United States. It led to technological improvement that enhanced inventions and innovations at the factories and other sectors of development. Industrialization resulted in the alteration of woman roles in the society. Women could join the workforce instead of staying at homes as housewives. Industrial revolution has helped to create highly skilled workers and a government that understands and protects the rights of employees and notion of equality.