Industrialization between 1865 and 1920 had many different effects on American life. In some ways, industrialization improved American life. However it also created problems in American society.
There are several advantages and disadvantages to industrialization.
In the decades following the Civil War the amount of factory jobs and city jobs increased. Rural populations decreased as urbanization increased. (See Document 1) Education rates and steel production rates also increased during this time period. The growth of railroads made transportation easier and more available to the public.
John D. Rockefeller argued that industrial combinations, such as trusts and monopolies, were a benefit to industry. (See Document 6) He stated that through industrial combinations a business could expand its markets, while producing low priced goods, and still making a profit for stockholders. Steel making entrepreneur, Andrew Carnegie, had donated much of his wealth to the building of public libraries and other charities. (See Document 7) There were several positive effects of industrialization on American society.
Industrialization was also the cause for many problems in American society. With the rise of big business a huge gap was created between the rich and the poor. The rich business owners were very wealthy and always had the best of everything, while working man lived in poverty. (See Document 5) Many people worked in sweatshops for as little as 25 cents per day. (See Document 4) Workers organized into labor unions such as the Knights of Labor and the American Federation of Labor. Under these labor unions, workers fought for higher wages, shorter hours, and safer working conditions.
(See Document 2) The huge amounts of wealth created by the hardships faced by the workers is why this time period of industrialization came to be known as the Gilded Age.
Industrialization between 1865 and 1920 had improved the national economy and the life of business owners. However millions of Americans suffered from low wages and living in poverty. Industrialization had a major effect on all Americans.