The Second Industrial Revolution: A Period of Great Advancement

The has been categorized as the period between 1870 and 1914, and its impacts have drastically changed the advancement and evolution of America as a whole. This was a period of great progress in all aspects of life, and significant developments can be observed particularly through the social and economic dynamics in America. The emergence of new technologies sparked the rise of big businesses, which in turn led to the surfacing of labor unions, the Populist Party, and much more. This chain reaction of continuous developments persisted, and these surfacing powers gained increasing influence in America.

Admittedly, a number of materializations from this period did have a negative effect on America, particularly in the social realm.

Big businesses and increased factory work completely altered the everyday lives of countless Americans, and conditions at work and at home deteriorated. However, more significant than these shortcomings was the colossal growth and amelioration of all facets of life in America. As a result of revolutionary technological breakthroughs, the rise of labor unions, big businesses and copious other advancements, the second industrial revolution can be holistically classified as massively successful, despite various tribulations that arose in the midst of these revolutionary times.

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Technological advancements during the second industrial revolution were plentiful, and they had massive impacts on the development and growth of America. One breakthrough was accomplished by Alexander Graham Bell and his invention of the telephone. Before he shifted his focus to the telephone, Bell focused on multiple telegraphy in direct competition with many other inventors such as Elisha Gray.

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However, Bell put aside this practical invention to pursue creating the telephone, an extremely important invention that inexplicitly was not being focused on. Bell’s pursuit was directed purely by enthusiasm, and after months of experimenting he reached his breakthrough invention (Hughes 56). The importance of the telephone cannot be understated, as it is a ubiquitous item in modern America and it completely revolutionized the realm of communication. The powers of the telephone spread across America and the rest of the world and became integral to everyday life; the ability to swiftly and easily contact others changed the way the entire world functioned. Similarly, the invention of the incandescent light bulb by Thomas Edison brought revolutionary change to the world. Edison was a man of conviction, and through his process of inventing the incandescent light bulb he experimented with over 1600 materials in search for the right

The second industrial revolution represents a new economy in America, largely brought about by the proliferation of big businesses and formidable industrialists. Economic productivity swelled as a result of mechanization, standardization, and increased production. “Between 1890 and 1929, the average urban worker put in one less day of work a week and brought home three times as much in pay” (Mintz 13). Big Businesses and corporations took the country by storm, and provided new opportunities for masses of Americans to achieve better lives. These reduced hours and increased pay allowed for urban workers to shift their focus from work to building a better life for themselves and their family. This is advantageous to the economy because it means that more money is in circulation.

This creates a continuous cycle of workers spending more money on industrial goods, leading to more employment opportunities because of increased consumer demand, resulting in more money distributed to the working class, and the process continues. On the opposite side of this process were the industrialists. Andrew Carnegie was one of the first “captains of industry,” and he is known best for his monopolization of the steel industry. Carnegie gained complete control over the steel industry, and with this power he employed 40,000 men at the height of his career. This progressed the economic upturn, and Carnegie’s actions of building up his company through vertical integration completely revolutionized the business industry.

Carnegie was one of the richest men in America, and later in his life he dedicated himself to philanthropy, giving away a reported 90% of his wealth to help aid his workers, veterans, public libraries, and so much more. He wrote the inspirational book “The Gospel of Wealth,” in which he urges all wealthy and upper class Americans to turn to philanthropy and give back to their community (“Andrew Carnegie”). This shows how not only did Carnegie create thousands of jobs and help boost America’s economy; he also sacrificed much of his wealth for the betterment of America. This period was full of powerful and inspirational people, and many of them used this influence for good and helped develop America into the nation it is today. Big businesses massively improved the economy, which is ultimately one of the greatest achievements during the second industrial revolution.

Works Cited

  1. “Andrew Carnegie.” Washington State University,
  3. Hughes, Thomas. P. American Genesis: a Century of Invention and Technological Enthusiasm, 1870-
  4. 1970. University of Chicago Press, 2004.
  5. Mintz, Steven. “The Second Industrial Revolution and Its Consequences.” Digital
  6. History: Using New Technologies to Enhance Teaching and Research, University of Houston, 2007, pp. 1–20.

Cite this page

The Second Industrial Revolution: A Period of Great Advancement. (2022, May 21). Retrieved from

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