Industrialization After The Civil War Term Paper

Length: 6 pages Sources: 3 Subject: Economics Type: Term Paper Paper: #33072220 Related Topics: Civil Procedure, Civil War Women, Mexican Revolution, Antitrust
Excerpt from Term Paper :

Industrialization After the Civil War

Industrialization was, in all aspects, a game changer in the U.S. because it brought about a complete transformation in people's ways of life. It changed how businesses were run, transformed how people earned money, made transportation easier, and caused a social and economic revolution.

Within four decades (1865-1920), the U.S. had "transformed from a predominantly rural agrarian society to an industrial economy centered in large metropolitan cities" (Hirschman & Mogford, 2009). In addition to the unity that had been created by the uniting states, three other factors played a crucial role in the rapid diffusion of technology during this period. These are;

Legislative representation - the pieces of legislation that furthered the efforts of reconstruction and promoted civil rights for the marginalized. For instance, the 13th, 14th and 15th Reconstruction Amendments which illegalized slavery, awarded citizenship to all people naturalized or born in the U.S., and gave voting rights to all men - regardless of their race.

ii) Immigration -- a large number of immigrants who came in during the period of mass immigration (1880-1920) provided relatively cheap labor to the American industries (Hirschman & Mogford, 2009).

iii) Entrepreneurship -- demonstrated by the numerous small and middle sized firms that came up, transforming the American industry into a competitive one; and the insurance companies, which sought to assume the risks associated with upcoming ventures.

The U.S. population was, during this industrialization period, largely stratified into societal classes (Weinberg, 2002). Moreover, racial and sex-based discrimination was prevalent. For these reasons, different industrialization affected different groups in different ways. These groups have been categorized on the basis of ethnicity, race, gender, social class, and worker groups.

i) Ethnicity -- The Spaniards and Mexicans lost land rights when the American courts began to disregard the Guadalupe Hidalgo Treaty, which required America to respect the Spanish and Mexican cultures when transferring ownership of land containing mineral deposits (Weinberg, 2002).

ii) Race -- Blacks got employed in construction and service positions outside the factories, the poor whites got jobs within textile mills - but both settled for exploitative rewards and unbearable working conditions (Weinberg, 2002). Blacks were forced to pay higher taxes, and higher education fees (Weinberg, 2002).

iii) Social class - Industrial and agricultural capitalists, textile owners, and the influential elite reaped profits at the expense of the middle and low class who in addition to receiving low wages for long work hours, had to pay regressive property taxes, and in states such as North Carolina, lost their voting rights (Weinberg, 2002).

iv) Gender - The number of employed males fell as business owners opted for children and women who offered cheaper labor (Weinberg, 2002).

v) Worker groups - Workers in America worked longer hours than their counterparts working in similar capacities in England and France, which were more advanced (Weinberg, 2002).

The average American worker benefited from industrialization between 1865 and 1920 through (Berkin, Miller, Cherny & Gormly, 2007);

i) Reduced commodity prices due to the increased transportation ability and accessibility of the west brought about by the railroad.

ii) Reduced congestion and lower house prices in major cities, since new transport mechanisms facilitated commuter efforts and more people opted to live in peaceful environments away from the cities.

iii) Increased productivity resulting from round-the-clock operations, which had been made possible by the development of electricity.

iv) Increased variety of commodities from which consumers could choose.

v) Improved provision of basic public utilities and amenities as a result of the increased tax revenue.


Industrialization was, in all aspects, a game changer in the U.S. because it brought about a complete transformation in people's ways of life. It changed how businesses were run, transformed how people earned money, made transportation easier, and caused a social and economic revolution.

Mechanization saw businesses replace the traditional manual methods of production with fossil fuel and steam-powered machines, and production began to shift from subsistence to large-scale. Steam-powered trains were a popular new...


They facilitated movement between destinations, and people began shifting from the traditional earn-a-living-at-home systems to working outside the home, in upcoming industrial positions. The levels of social interactions increased and governing regulations similar to today's minimum wage requirements came up. The weapon and gun industry developed as people fought in an attempt to end slavery in the north and the south.

Factors that Facilitated the Rapid Diffusion of Technology

The U.S. story begins in the 18th century, with the thirteen British colonies then inhabited by approximately 2.5 million people (Hirschman & Mogford, 2009). The young nation went through significant progress on one hand and a myriad of storms on the other, in the period between the revolution against the British and the 1861 civil war (Hirschman & Mogford, 2009). The post civil war period was, however, characterized by significant reconstruction efforts and changes aimed at realizing growth (Hirschman & Mogford, 2009). The reconstruction brought slavery to an end and brought together the Confederate States of America, some of which had broken off the union during the civil war, under one national government. Britain had, by then, made great advancements; technological expansion and industrialization was one way through which the young nation could reconstruct and advance (Hirschman & Mogford, 2009).

Within four decades, the U.S. had "transformed from a predominantly rural agrarian society to an industrial economy centered in large metropolitan cities" (Hirschman & Mogford, 2009). A number of factors have been put forward as having contributed to this rapid technological transformation. This text will dwell on three of these; legislative representation, immigration, and entrepreneurship.

Legislative Representation

The most significant pieces of facilitative legislation in the U.S. during the post civil war-period included the 13th, 14th and the 15 Reconstruction Amendments and antitrust laws such as the Sherman Act (Weinberg, 2002). These made the U.S. A more attractive destination, compared to Britain, and attracted an influx of immigrants from Europe and Africa who provided not only provided labor to the American industries, but adequate market as well (Weinberg, 2002). These contributed significantly to the success of the American industries. The 13th Amendment outlawed slavery, which was still a matter of concern in the north and the south (Weinberg, 2002). The 14th Amendment awarded U.S. citizenship to all people who were born or naturalized in American territory (Weinberg, 2002). This made it easier for immigrants to acquire citizenship and enjoy the benefits that come with it. The 15th Amendment awarded voting rights to all American men, regardless of their race (Weinberg, 2002).

Antitrust laws were meant to promote entrepreneurship by discouraging monopoly power and illegalizing any attempts by capitalists to monopolize the American industry (Weinberg, 2002). Most capitalists, during this period, feared that competition would result in overproduction, ruinous competition, price deflation and wage inflation - which would ultimately shrink operational profits (Weinberg, 2002). They worked at preventing this by forming mergers, which would make the entry and survival of new firms almost impossible. The U.S. Steel Corporation offers a perfect example (Weinberg, 2002). It was formed by the merging of a number of established factories, and worked by setting prices that would enable its weak competitors to just break-even, such that they would have no ability to impact on customers, and the corporation would maintain its dominance (Weinberg, 2002). The introduction of antitrust laws caused numerous middle and small sized ventures to come up, making the U.S. industry more competitive (Weinberg, 2002).


Immigration was boosted by the increased transportation ability brought about by the invention of steam-powered trains and the enactment of favorable legislation, which facilitated contract enforcement (Hirschman & Mogford, 2009). The immigrant community's selectivity, size, and "disproportionate residence in large cities meant they were the mainstay of America's industrial workforce" (Hirschman & Mogford, 2009). Moreover, approximately three-quarters of this immigrant community were aged between 18 and 40; implying a strong industrial workforce, and a low dependency ratio which translates to low costs of support in the form of public subsidies (Hirschman & Mogford, 2009).

Immigration fostered the success and improved the efficiency of the American industry by allowing talent mobility, human capital improvements, trade expansion, increased demand, increased entrepreneurship, specialization and division of labor, and increased innovation (Hirschman & Mogford, 2009). Andrew Carnegie is a perfect example in this case; he came to America from Scotland in 1848, and formed a partnership that came up with middlemen-eliminating business strategies in the steel industry. His partnership was, by 1900, accounting for a quarter of America's total Bessemer steel production (Hirschman & Mogford, 2009).


Entrepreneurship during the industrialization period was heavily boosted by two factors; favorable legislation and immigration (Hirschman & Mogford, 2009). The numerous industries that came up to compete against the established monopolies and the insurance companies that sought to assume risk are representative enough, of the high levels of entrepreneurship.

The Effect of Industrialization on Different Groups

The American society was highly stratified into classes, as well as gender and race-based groups. It would be prudent, therefore, to analyze the effects of…

Sources Used in Documents:


Berkin, C., Miller, C., Cherny, R. & Gormly, J. (2007). Making America: A History of the United States, Vol. II from 1865 (5th ed.). Mason, OH: Cengage Learning.

Hirschman, C. & Mogford, E. (2009). Immigration and the American Industrial Revolution from 1880-1920. Social Science Research, 38(4), 897-920.

Weinberg, M. (2002). Chapter 7: Capitalism Dominant, 1865-1920. A Short History of American Capitalism. Retrieved from

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