After the Civil War, the United States became much more industrialized society. Between 1865 and 1920, industrialization improved American life in many ways, transforming it into a modern industrial society but also created problems for the American people. Three major improvements that contributed to the United States economy were the railroads, factories and immigration. Railroads during the period of the industrial revolution were good throughout the north and were supported by the federal government to help build the north into achieving a prosperous economy. The railroads made transportation of goods and products easy, cheap and reliable. The steel industry made the expansion of the railroads possible and by the 1900’s, Carnegie made great contributions to the business world, enabling railroads to connect to seaports, cities and industrial centers. Urbanization and Immigration began around the 1870 and the 1920’s. Immigrants migrated to cities like New York, Chicago and Boston. Approximately 25 million people migrated to the U.S and they contributed to the growth of the cities and new technologies. They worked low- paying factory jobs and overcrowded neighborhoods, moving the middle class out of their communities (Shultz, 2014). While great accomplishments took place during this period, it also affected different people like African Americans, Farmers, Children, Women and Immigrants. African Americans faced many challenges in terms of freedom and acceptance from the old to the new south. In the old south, they were slaves working day and night with no rights. After the civil war, during the reconstruction their lives improved, being freed with rights such as the 14th- and 15th amendments that granted them citizenship and the right to vote.
However in the “New South” their rights seemed meaningless because of the Jim Crow laws, violence and the lack of their voting rights. The Jim Crow laws they prohibited them from attending the same schools as whites and sitting in the same areas in restaurants, which increased the racism of blacks and whites. Children were also affected while this time due to the high demand for them to work in factories was great. Many children started at the age 14, but would be hired form age 6, who usually worked tedious long hours. By the end of the 1800’s, child labor laws were passed, but employers ignored the laws, and the number of child factory workers increased (Shultz, 2014). Children were great at doing this task because they accepted low pay, didn’t complain about the wages, and were able to fit in small in cracks that the average man and women couldn’t do. The economy of the south wasn’t very strong due to the fact, profits were made because labor was unpaid, and the limited crops planted were cotton, tobacco and sugar. Some of the natural resources of the south included farmland, water power, steam power coal, iron and oil. Agriculture was the primary source of employment; while textiles and steel industries became prosperous in the south after the civil war (Weightman, 2007). Many sharecroppers faced hardships and sharecropping became unprofitable for workers because they were uneducated, and cheated by the landowners that owned the supplies. Fresh produce began to be in great demand once refrigerated railcars were introduced.
Ashton, T.S. The Industrial Revolution: 1760-1830. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1997. Schultz, Kevin: 2014 U.S History since 1865 Volume 11: pg. 291, 311-320 Weightman, Gavin. The Industrial Revolutionaries: The Making of the Modern World, 1776-1914. New York: Grove Press, 2007.