The Industrial Revolution took place from the 18th to 20th centuries, a period when the rural areas in America became industrial by opening manufacturing factories and the urban areas becoming more inner-city. The Industrial Revolution began with Samuel Slater, Samuel brought manufacturing technologies from Britain to the United States and introduced the first water-powered cotton mill in Beverly, Massachusetts. This invention was the beginning of the first Industrial revolution, and it changed the design and production industry, the distribution of yarn, cloth and clothing. The first industrial revolution evolved with the process using machinery and technology until the Second Industrial Revolution in 1870 and 1914.
The world witnessed a rapid shift from the normal forms of the inventions and began to evolve using the power of electricity, oil and gas. The Second Industrial Revolution took local rural areas and their products from the agricultural aspect and introduced them to new labor forces and production techniques which allowed them to distribute their products in a faster and more efficient way. The more inventions and technologies that were created during the Industrial Revolution the more it changed society by the way things were powered and how goods were manufactured and transported.
The development of industries around the region caused an increased in the manufactured goods which meant the economy began to shift from an agrarian production to mass-production. Once the economy changed it began a shift between the rural to urban areas because the urban areas were where the labor was based. Instead of people producing many items by hands, we now have manufactories that could triple the production by using machinery. The Industrial Revolution changed the way of life with the use of machinery, this was a period when labor opportunities caused a population shift to urban areas which it led to the establishment of social and economic organizations and the creation of the Middle Class.
In order to make a profit the growth of the Industrial Revolution depended heavily on the ability to transport raw material and goods over long distances. History tends to believe the Industrial Revolution’s main focus were to become technological, socioeconomic and cultural, but I believe the Industrial Revolution’s main focus was an era of creating cheaper products for less money and time. The technological changes included the use of new basic materials iron and steel and the use of new energy sources including fuels and motive power such as coal, the steam engine and electricity.[footnoteRef:1] These changes increased the use of natural resources with the mass production of manufactured goods, manufactured goods that the United States are now making on their own in their factories. New inventions created a decline for the need of agricultural workers which gave them no other choice but to join the industrial economy. This economic change led to an increase in population and urbanization; the more people were looking for work the more they traveled inner-city. [1: “Industrial Revolution.” Encyclopædia Britannica, https://www.britannica.com/event/Industrial-Revolution.]
Between the 1880s and 1900s, cities in the United States grew at a dramatic rate. The population growth grew to about 15 million people in the past two decades before 1900.[footnoteRef:2] Between the 1880s and 1929 industrialization was not the only factor expanding the economic society, urbanization was playing a major factor in the population expansion too. According to the A.U.C. many of those who are the reason for the population growth of cities were immigrants who were arriving into the states for work.[footnoteRef:3] Since the South was many agrarian and dependent upon slave labor, the land was mostly plantations that were owned primarily for slaves. When immigrates decided to migrate to the United States there was not much or any of the land available for them to purchase and start their own business. Immigrants had to migrate north towards the cities for the industrial jobs. In 1900, about three-quarters of the populations of many large cities such as New York, Boston, Cleveland, San Francisco, Buffalo, Milwaukee, and Detroit were mainly immigrants.[footnoteRef:4] [2: ‘Rise of Industrial America City 1876-1900, Life in the Late 19th Century” http://www.loc.gov/teachers/classroommaterials/presentationsandactivities/presentations/timeline/riseind/city/.] [3: A.U.C., Active USA Center. History of the United States, Industrialization and Reform – TheUSAonline.com. http://www.theusaonline.com/history/industrialization.htm. ] [4: Carpenter Niles. Immigrants and Their Children. Census Monograph. Washington, D.C: Government Printing Office; 1927. ]
The Industrial revolution of the 19th and 20th centuries began to transform the cities with the increasing amounts of jobs. The more innovations people came up with the larger the factories grew, and the more people were encouraged to move toward cities if they were looking for a way to make ends meet. With the development of railroads, streetcars and trolleys the cities began to expand their boundaries. Therefore, people would no longer have to live as close to their job to get there. People would be able to live farther out and build communities along the way, they also began to open up more stores and restaurants for families to bring more revenue into the cities. By the 1920s the number of Americans in the cities grew from 10 million to 54 million which caused a problem for the local governments because they were not able to cover larger cities with clean water or able to pick up the garbage for every community being built within which caused living problems for the families.[footnoteRef:5] But that did not stop people from migrating towards the cities. In the 19th and early 20th centuries the Progressive movement began which became a movement that reduced a lot of corruption the local governments brought upon the cities. [5: “Urbanization of America.” TheUSAonline.com, http://www.theusaonline.com/people/urbanization.htm. ]
Social Reform: Progressive Era
The Progressive Movement was a global reform, its purpose was to cure many of the social and political ills in the United States after the Industrial Revolution. The Progressive Era was a period of where social activism and political reform became an important aspect in the United States, this took place from the 1890s and the 1920s. The main reasons for the Progressive movement was to eliminate the problems caused by industrialization, urbanization, immigration and political corruption such as the inability to produce clean water for the families who were living in the cities during the time.[footnoteRef:6] Some of the demands the social activist during the Progressive Era wanted was better pay, safer working condition, shorter hours and benefits for their workers since most of the workers had families. As the industries’ continued to expand factories would often hire children to work, the social activist believed that education was the only way for a successful life, so they opposed against child labor. [6: “Progressive Era.” Khan Academy, https://www.khanacademy.org/humanities/us-history/rise-to-world-power/age-of-empire/a/the-progressive-era. ]
The shift from an agricultural economy to a much more industrialized one caused millions of people in the United States to rely on other people such as business owners for their livelihood. There was not only corruption within the government but there was corruption within the factories as well. Corporate bosses were referred to as “robber barons,” robber barons would use unethical and unfair business ways to eliminate their competition and increase their companies’ profit.[footnoteRef:7] The employers would reinvest their profits back into the companies to avoid having to pay the workers fair wages. Many of the business owners at the time had tremendous power within the federal government so there was not a way they would get in trouble for not paying their workers what they deserved. [7: Schneider, Stephen. ‘Robber Baron.’ Encyclopædia Britannica. https://www.britannica.com/topic/robber-baron. ]
The Progressive Movement addressed many problems about the city’s expansion especially in the 1930s during the War on poverty in the 1960s. The political movements were a way of eliminating programs which would lead to many local reform movements throughout the 20th century. The Progressive movement began to expand causing a more diverse group of reforms. A reformer could have been someone with a career like a journalist or educator or it could be the people who were living within the cities of all races and nationality. They all wanted to apart of something that they knew would help better them. They were not just activists who wanted to help form new organizations for their personal reasoning they all wanted to unify their cities and be able to work and earn fair wages so they could continue to provide for their families.
Expansion of Labor
The value of goods produced by the factories increased between 1870 and 1916 because of the use of machinery. With the machines, the workers could produce goods faster than by hand. The production began to double by each worker allowing the factories to be able to get more shipments sent out. In the 1870s machines were knitting stockings, stitching shirts and dresses and cutting and stitching shoes. Products were made cheaper especially if they did have to pay their labor workers so a lot of the profits would be used to buy more supplies or machines. Manufacturing companies began to hire so many workers that each factory system had to have a division of labor where different workers would each have a specific task in making the product.[footnoteRef:8] Even though many of the workers were unskilled because of the division of labor, the only thing they had to do was learn one task to get the job down, after all the machines did most of the work. The more the labor expanded the more the cities populations’ increases causing the factories to be able to have multiple diversions allowing production to speed up even more. [8: “The United States of America.” History of the United States, Industrialization and Reform www.theusaonline.com/history/industrialization.htm.]
Labor has always been an essential source of the industrial revolution, but after the more labor positions became open the more immigrants became the United States key to economic production. The labor force became made up of millions of immigrants making the society more diverse than ever. Because of the rise of immigrants, companies were able to save way more money than before, they would work them longer hours for less pay. With the increase of immigrants coming to the United States, it began to upset the American workers who depend on their wages and benefits. By this taking place their shifts were cut, and they were losing money. This led to the beginning of labor unions, labor unions were the only way for workers voices to become heard. Labor unions demanded more hours, fair wages and fair treatment, labor unions also supported the restrictions on immigration. American workers would blame the immigrants for taking their jobs instead of realizing the companies were using them so they can profit more money.
People were so eager to work in factories after the labor unions began because many of the workers would quit and go on strike which meant factories were hiring more and more people each day. Workers who participated in the labor unions would protest or riot because not only did they believe they were treated unfairly they also wanted revenge on the company. After while it became illegal to form labor unions so laws were developed to set minimum hourly wages, living standards and a maximum number of hours that could be worked.
Rise of the Middle Class
The GI – Bill was passed in 1944, it provided educational and other benefits to the people who had served in the armed forces in World War II. This program led to a doubling of the median family income in only 30 years. This bill and increase of family income led to the creation of the middle class which included nearly 60 percent of Americans by the late 1970s. The larger the Industrial Revolution grew the more powerful individuals became. The Industrial Revolution made drastic changes on the lives of individuals, but the two classes that benefited from it were the ‘middle’ and “upper” classes.[footnoteRef:9] These two classes were composed of people that had wealth and success. With the industrial factories growing as fast as they were this enhanced people’s wealth and allowed social and cultural characteristics to develop among different economic groups. In the major northern cities of Boston, New York, and Philadelphia, leading merchants formed an “industrial capitalist elite,” in other words it was a group of people who were superior and had special privileges from the rest of society. Members of the elite would work closely with each other to protect their status and expand their profits by investing in each – other. Marriages between the middle- and upper-class families was one of the most crucial strategies to advance an economic advantage; to marry within your class only secured your spot as an “elite.” As families were built, the neighborhoods started to develop and they began to build their homes farther away from the poorer urban residents and cities soon separating each class by their standards. [9: “ Industrial Revolution Research – Classes of People” https://www.industrialrevolutionresearch.com/industrial_revolution_classes_of_people.php.]
The middle class became the backbone of the United States. They often would refer to the rise of the middle class as the Victorian Era which was adopted from Europe. They began to adopt the phrase Victorian era after the Civil war and throughout the Victorian Era was where the middle class began to grow even more.[footnoteRef:10] The middle class consisted of people who worked in whole – sale trade, supplying merchandise to a particular trade, it consisted of bankers and people within the local government. People who worked in whole – sale trading was successful enough that they could rise to the level of the elite. However, the people who did whole – sale trade for the smaller factories and stores were in between the status of middle class and working class. There was a numerous amount of competition in the cities leading many of people to begin to branch off and start their own businesses so they could one day reach the level of the elites. Even though once people reached the level into the middle class it became a struggle to maintain their ranks. People would become worried they might slip into the ranks of wage laborers, so they strove to maintain or improve their middle-class status. In order to stay within the middle class and earn the respect of others you had to outdo your competition which meant more money and more manufacturing inventions. [10: “Victorian Era.” The Victorian Era England facts about Queen Victoria, Society & Literature, http://www.victorian-era.org/victorian-era-america.html. ]
The Industrial Revolution was a period when labor opportunities caused a population shift to the urban areas. By this taking place in America it led to the establishment of social and economic organizations and the creation of the Middle Class. Because of the population shift from the rural areas to the urban areas it brought more people within the communities together which made society more diverse. Industries involving the design and production industry, along with the distribution of yarn, cloth and clothing manufacturing, mining, glass making, and agriculture businesses all had undergone changes. The Industrial Revolution caused a shift in the United States from manual labor – based industry to more of a technical and machine – based manufacturer. With machinery becoming more involved with the production work it has not only increased overall production, but it caused a major shift in the economic growth of the United States. The changes within the industrial revolution helped begin the rise of the modern era of the United States, the rise of inventions, entrepreneurships, technology, rapid immigration, growth of cities, the rise of political machines, began stimulating the economy and the birth of the American middle class and it also was a major advancement to the upper class. The labor movements in the Industrial Revolution played a vital role in the advancement of working conditions till this day. The continuously population growth during the urban cities allowed a special bond between people and laid the foundation for a more diverse society.
- A.U.C., Active USA Center. n.d. “The United States of America.” History of the United States, Industrialization and Reform – TheUSAonline.com. Accessed October 25, 2018. http://www.theusaonline.com/history/industrialization.htm.
- Britannica, The Editors of Encyclopaedia. ‘Industrial Revolution.’ Encyclopædia Britannica. October 09, 2018. https://www.britannica.com/event/Industrial-Revolution.
- Foner, Eric. 2017. “Chapter 18 The Progressive Era, 1900-1916.” Give Me Liberty!: an American History. New York: W. W. Norton & Company.
- Goldfield, David R. ‘The Stages of American Urbanization.’ OAH Magazine of History 5, no. 2 (1990): 26-31. http://www.jstor.org/stable/25162733.
- History.com. A&E Television Networks. Accessed October 25, 2018. https://www.history.com/topics/industrial-revolution.
- “Industrial Revolution Research.” n.d. Industrial Revolution – Classes of People. Accessed October 25, 2018. https://www.industrialrevolutionresearch.com/industrial_revolution_classes_of_people.php.
- “Progressive Movement.” Battle of Lake Erie – Ohio History Central, www.ohiohistorycentral.org/w/Progressive_Movement.
- ‘Rise of Industrial America City 1876-1900, Life in the Late 19th Century” – American Memory Timeline- Classroom Presentation | Teacher Resources. Accessed November 01, 2018. http://www.loc.gov/teachers/classroommaterials/presentationsandactivities/presentations/timeline/riseind/city/.
- Rosenbloom, Joshua L. ‘The Extent of the Labor Market in the United States, 1870-1914.’ Social Science History 22, no. 3 (1998): 287-318. doi:10.2307/1171527.
- Schneider, Stephen. ‘Robber Baron.’ Encyclopædia Britannica. January 29, 2018. https://www.britannica.com/topic/robber-baron.
- “The Rise and Fall of America’s Middle Class.” OtherWords, 9 Jan. 2018, otherwords.org/rise-fall-americas-middle-class/.
- ‘Urbanization of America.’ Family Life in the USA – TheUSAonline.com. http://www.theusaonline.com/people/urbanization.htm.
- ‘Victorian American History.’ Victorian Era Life in England. Victorians Society & Daily Life. http://www.victorian-era.org/victorian-era-america.html.
- ‘What were the major economic differences between the North and South during the Industrial Revolution?’ eNotes, 24 May 2012, https://www.enotes.com/homework-help/what-were-major-economic-differences-between-north-340373.