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Industrialization of the United States Essay

The history of the United States of America had always been one of progress. Though the socio-political realm of the history of the nation is partially enshrouded by black veil of struggles, conflicts, and eventual changes, the economic sphere of the American history still conveys about the significant progresses the country has been making since the inception of the process of industrialization. It is noteworthy that industrialization in the United States of America opened new arenas for economic opportunity even though it was ingrained with several sociological drawbacks that included the encroachment of capitalist exploitations and resulting militant labor unionism. The industrial growth that the United States still boasts on had its inception in the early 1800’s and the progress went through the post-Civil War era. It must be noted that after the Civil War a dramatic change occurred in the realm of American industry. Machines started replacing the conventional hand labor which was once considered the primary means of manufacturing, and this mechanization gradually started increasing production capacity of the American industries in a tremendous manner (‘History of the United States: Industrialization and reform (1870-1916)’ n.d.).

Moreover, the development of railways did fuel the process of industrialization greatly as distribution of goods to different corners of the nation far and wide became possible (“History of the United States: Industrialization and reform (1870-1916)”, n.d.). Also, it must be noted that “Inventors developed new products that the public wanted, and businesses produced the products in large quantities. Investors and bankers supplied the huge amounts of money that business leaders needed to expand their operations” (‘History of the United States: Industrialization and reform (1870-1916)’ n.d.). And all these ensured that the United States is on the right track of industrialization and economic progress. For the emergence of the process of industrialization in the United States and for its sustainability, as noticed in the history of the industrialization of other nations, iron and steel played a significant role. Iron and steel became the cornerstone of American industrialization since the Scottish immigrant, Andrew Carnegie, did build the steel industry with a mill that was responsible for integrating all stages of the iron refinement process starting from ore to finished rails (‘American Industrialization’ n.d.).

Moreover, it was due to the establishment of the iron and steel industry that it was possible for the nation to witness the development of railways, another factor which instigated American industrialization in a faster pace. In this respect it must be said that over 100,000 miles of railway track were laid between 1877 and 1893 and this process included the standardization of gauge which again initiated more developments and among the developments were the time zone adoption allowing the coordination of systems and the adoption of steel rails that were capable of bearing heavier loads (‘American Industrialization’ n.d.). The process of industrialization of America that carried on between 1870 and 1920 also paved the way for the United States to be the primary nation of choice for innumerable immigrants. It is noteworthy that in the course of American industrialization (between 1870 and 1920) “approximately 26.5 million immigrants from Asia, Latin America, and Europe entered all regions of the United States, with the majority settling in the Northeast and Midwest” (‘Industrializing America: Theme 2’ n.d.).

Some of these migrants came to the United States to avoid political and religious persecution while some others reached the land forsaking their motherland for the sake of economic opportunity and financial prosperity (‘Industrializing America: Theme 2’ n.d.). In this relation it must be noted that, the more the immigrants gathered in the United States the more the nation’s workforce was strengthened and this strengthening also contributed significantly to the process of industrialization of the United States. And this is evident in the fact that “Using transcontinental railroads ad river boats, immigrants fanned out across the country to look for jobs: the Japanese in California’s fruit orchards, Mexicans in Colorado’s mines and beet fields, Scandinavians in western mines, Italians in iron mining camps in Missouri, and the Irish in New York factories” (“Industrializing America: Theme 2”, n.d.). But with every boon comes a bane and this was also the case with American industrialization. The more the industries started growing the more was the degree of ill-treatment of the factory owners toward the labor class. To protect the interests of the labors different labor unions started to crop up. But despite of unionism the relation between labors and capitalists could not be improved considerably.

As a result labor strife arose in the 1870s and frequent strikes started following and the unrests also encompassed tragic events like Haymarket Massacre which occurred in 1886 in Chicago when a bomb killed seven people and wounded seventy, and such incidents became frequent in the form of events like Homestead Strike in Pennsylvania in 1892 that claimed seven deaths (‘American Industrialization’, n.d.). And the tensions that were generated through these events reshaped the sociological concepts of class struggle in the United States – a concept which is still plaguing the U.S. society extensively. In conclusion, industrialization of the United States was the culmination of different factors that were combined together and functioned collaboratively. And these factors were correlated. As a matter of fact, industrialization of the United States of America opened new arenas for economic opportunity even though it was ingrained with several sociological drawbacks that included the encroachment of capitalist exploitations and resulting militant labor unionism.


‘American Industrialization’. n.d.. Accessed October 11. http://home.earthlink.net/~gfeldmeth/lec.indust.html. ‘History Of The United States: Industrialization And Reform (1870-1916)’. n.d.. Accessed October 11. http://www.theusaonline.com/history/industrialization.html. ‘Industrializing America: Theme 2’. n.d.. http://www.learner.org/courses/amerhistory/units/14/themes/2.html.

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