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Industrial Revolution in America
Countless historical events and cultural impacts have influenced the future of the American culture and society since the period of the Industrial Revolution. Drastic changes were brought to men, transforming their ways of life into convenience and improvement through the advance discoveries of the geniuses of the past and the revolution of diverse industries. Without the era of the industrial revolution, our lifestyles today, in terms of the technology that we currently have, will not be as progressive as they are. Essentially, the industrial revolution had built the history of technology.
The era of the industrial revolution have witnessed changes in the different aspects of society and human life. In America, changes were seen in politics, education, transportation, arts, entertainment, literature, economy, etc., as they were influenced by economic changes from mainly agriculture into manufacturing and production of goods. The economic and social structure of the United States had improved as how other nations also did during the era. The industrial revolution brought significant transformations such as increased economy and industrial progress. It was the industrial revolution's success that established competencies in the different products and services offered by man.
Historically, the two nations that contributed the most to the success of industrial revolution were England and America. Though England, through their inventions, influenced America in finding ways that could better their ways of life, America had shown the world that they are capable of building their nation as an economic power. While England produced the names of James Watt, John Wilkinson, Joseph Whitworth, Henry Maudslay, and many others, America shared the geniuses of Eli Whitney, Thomas Blanchard, Elis Howe, Henry Ford, Cyrus McCormack, and Isaac Singer (Anderson, 2001).
Major Inventions of the Industrial Revolution
From the World History Online, the following are the major inventions and events in Europe and America during the Industrial Revolution that had influenced the American society.
1764 The spinning jenny was invented by Briton James Hargreaves. It would spin 120 threads at once.
1769 Richard Arkwright invented the water frame.
1772 Nitrogen was discovered by Daniel Rutherford and Joseph Priestley independently.
1773 James Watt perfected the steam engine.
1779 Samuel Crompton invented the spinning mule.
1783 Edmund Carwright patented a power-loom. It did not take off as a useful invention because it has too hard to use.
1793 Eli Whitney invented the cotton gin.
1796 The small pox vaccine was discovered by Edward Jenner.
1800 Muskets with interchangeable parts are made by Eli Whitney.
1800 The first battery is made by Alessandro Volto using zinc and copper plates.
1801 The first submarine was made by Robert Fulton. It was called Nautilus.
1802 John Dalton announced the atomic theory of chemistry.
1803 The first shell used in warfare was invented by Henry Shrapnel.
1812 Philippe Girard invented a machine for spinning flax.
1814 Francis Cabot Lowell built the first integrated factory in the United States. It was for the Boston Manufacturing Company. Lowell had bought the plans for and improved power loom.
1817 The Principles of Political Economy and Taxation was written by David Ricardo. It discussed the determination of wage and value.
1819 Hans C. Oersted discovered electromagnetism.
1821 Sir Charles Wheatstone invented a device which could record sound.
1825 Blanchard invented the first steam powered vehicle.
1825 The Erie Canal opened linking the Hudson River to the Great Lakes.
Effects of the Industrial Revolution in American Labor
Curt Anderson, in his The Two Countries that Invented the Industrial Revolution, indicated the effect of the industrial revolution in the working life of the Americans through a comparison of the period's purpose in England and America. Anderson states that In England, during the 18th and 19th centuries there was no shortage of skilled labor. Rather than replacing English workers, their machines made work more precise. Meanwhile, in sparsely populated America, the needs of a new nation required rapid and simple means of production. Machines augmented the scant workforce. In England, machines served to make talented artisans better. In America, machines served to make entrepreneurs more productive."
When the period of industrial revolution emerged in England and America, it meant two different things between the two nations. In England, the invented machines served the purpose of making the English crafts better, while in America, the machines are used to fill the nation's scarce source of labor. In both nations, the views on industrial revolution basically focus on how the period had affected the ways work is done.
The invention of the different machines caused the emergence of more and more industries in America during the period of the industrial revolution. Because labor no longer depends to what man alone can provide, but rather with the help of technologically advanced machineries as well, many entrepreneurs and businessmen were encouraged to invest on production and manufacturing industries. The impact of the period in America was apparent in the growth of medium to large factories.
Though machineries were already considered as a source of labor and production, the period of industrial revolution still saw an increase in a demand for more workers. Along with the growth in number of factories is the growth of demand for more laborers. This is to satisfy the needs of new and emerging industrial ventures that invest in a combination of mechanical and manual manufacturing. The period thus saw the appearance of the working class, as well as the organization of different trade and labor unions that help laborers in their working conditions.
The trade and labor unions had both positive and negative effects on America's labor, which, currently, are still apparent. On the negative side, employers often choose to hire individuals who are not members of a union to avoid labor problems such as strikes. On the positive side, trade unions served as protection to laborers. The literature Effects of the Industrial Revolution on Working Life indicates the following view of Arnold Toynbee in his The Industrial
Trade-Unions have done much to avert social and industrial disorder, and have taught workmen, by organization and self-help, to rely upon themselves. By means of their accumulated funds workmen have been able to hold out for better prices for their labor, and the Unions have further acted as provident societies."
Despite of the positive demand for more laborers that America had witnessed during the industrial revolution, a child labor controversy that violates a child's right had risen within the improving industry of the period. Children became the preference of employers to hire as laborers because of several reasons: first, child labor is cheap; second, children are easy to train because they easily obey; third, children can easily fit to tight spaces to work because of their small bodies; and many others. Aside from this practice of inappropriately making children work, some employers even abused and maltreated the children laborers. This problem during the industrial revolution became the foundation of many acts passed against child labor.
Another effect of the industrial revolution in American labor was the involvement of women in the workforce. Before, it was said that women's role revolves only around the house - taking care of her family and her husband. However, in the period of industrial revolution when diverse industries emerged and demand for laborers were rampant, women had the opportunity of doing what men do - to work and earn for money. Most of them worked as factory workers and teachers.
Effects of the Industrial Revolution in American Economy
Along with the establishment of many industries in America during the industrial revolution is the growth in economy of the nation. The main source of America's earnings and national funds was the industry of manufacturing.
Because of the many industrial businesses that were established, competition started to exist. There was overproduction, or supply of commodities was in great number compared to the consumers' demands. These factors affected the prices of goods causing them to plummet. In terms of a laborer's wage, some historians say that in contrast to the increase in demand for more workers, wages were decreased. On the other hand, some says that wages during the industrial revolution had increased. This was said to be the result of the increase in earnings industrial businesses experienced.
The most significant among the issues concerning America's economy during the industrial revolution was the increase in cost of standard of living. Though America's gross income improved because of the progress in the manufacturing industries, the population growth caused by the influx of immigrant workers, as well as the low wages of laborers, made the living condition of most Americans suffer. Others' living condition, on the other hand, particularly those in the business and entrepreneurship sector, had improved.
The different technologies that were brought to America, such as the steam engine of James Watt, the spinning jenny of James Hargreaves, and the water frame of Richard Arkwright, had contributed to the growth of the American industry. Thus, leading to the nation's economic development and progress. One of the successful companies then…[continue]
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