Industrialization And The Civil War Research Paper

Length: 4 pages Sources: 3 Subject: American History Type: Research Paper Paper: #41080277 Related Topics: Westward Expansion, American Civil War, Urbanization, Civil War
Excerpt from Research Paper :

Industrialization After the Civil War

The United States economy grew to unprecedented levels and very quickly, after the American Civil War. This economic and industrial growth comprised of a number of causative factors such as technological innovation, westward expansion, and immigration to the United States that have witnessed tremendous development over the years. American economic and industrial growth was a kind of mixed blessing; but at the same time, it raised the living standard of some Americans, made certain goods easily accessible, and equally helped the United States become world military and economic power. These same forces, on the other hand and at the same time, increased the gap between the rich and the poor, enhanced and reduced political corruption at different levels of government, and also created some lasting legacy for environmental destruction (Shultz, 2014).

This paper contends to most effect, that industrialization was nothing more than a mere abolition of slavery and declaration of a new economic era in America. Replacing slavery with industrialization is a natural economic outcome when considering three aspects of industrialization: the way it affects the economy (which experienced rapid development in the late 19th century but equally became more uneven); severely volatile vulnerability to panics; it's effects on citizens, where newly released blacks would get an idea of a system described by the historian Oshinky (1997) as being worse than slavery. He contended that emancipation had ended slavery but failed to destroy the very assumptions on which slavery was based (Oshinsky, 1997). He also cast aspersions on the effect it had on the political system, which later became a one-party system, prone to high rate of corruption from Teapot Dome to Credit Mobilier -- until that time when, in the words of Richard Hofstadter, the Senate became so filled with business moguls that it was popularly referred to as the Millionaires Club (Hofstadter, 1989).

Effect on economy

The years after the civil war were a mixture of the best and worst of times. In the quarter century after the war, America's economy grew at an unprecedented rate in the history of America. Around 1870 and 1920, the number of United States workers in manufacturing firms rose by almost 450%, rising from 2.5 million-11.2 million. This created room for immigrants to come in, and during that same period, about 27.5 million immigrants migrated to The United States. To support the burgeoning population of the United States, the number of acres under cultivation were increased by farmers by a whopping 234% (Shutz, 2014). The explosive economic growth witnessed in America was fueled by influential legislation passed while the civil war lasted and after it ended. Some of the important ones were the 1862 Homestead Act, through which small grants of public land were given to farmers by the government and the Pacific Railway Acts, through which the public lands were granted to private corporations by the federal government to encourage the construction of transcontinental railroad (Campbell, 1999).

With the economic growth, builders depended on new technologies to tackle the challenges that come from having several people living in one place, moving raw materials, finished products, and human resources logistics. Elevated trains, subway, and streetcars provisioned means of mass transportation. Elevators and steel spiders made it possible to construct suspension bridges like the Brooklyn Bridge, and skyscrapers such as New York City's Flatiron Building. The cities became illuminated and thus safer by use of gas and electric lights. New water and sewage systems were built by officials to check growing health challenges. (Shultz, 2014; Campbell, 1999).

Effect on the citizenry

Nonetheless, not all strata of society enjoy equal the share of growth and prosperity; wealth was enjoyed by a few at the top, while the separation between the classes remained stark. There was a big contrast between the rich and the poor apparent in the public photographs of Manhattan's Lower East Side claustrophobic alleys, which separates unsafe buildings, the crowded and unsanitary living conditions, and the whole misery working class lifestyle is characterized by during this era from the affluent capitalists (Shultz, 2014).

i. Migration

Always employed by company owners, a labor force enthusiastic about economic prospect come to cities from rural regions of the United States, Asia, Latin America, and Europe. Several millions of immigrants from Canada, China, Mexico, Southern and Eastern Europe, and Scandinavia gained access to every part of the country, with most of them settling down in the Northeast. Most of these immigrants hoped to acquire land, but-because they had no money-always took the first...


At best, these workers could earn only enough money to lend support to the families they left behind or bring over their family members to join them (Campbell, 1999).

ii. Urbanization The American society witnessed immense industrial expansion in the years following the Civil War. The country became increasingly urbanized, and the cities became more populated and infrastructural development ensued. Mass immigration to the United States fueled this population growth, which continued into the early years of the 20th century. The hope these immigrants had were however belied with the legalized discrimination against African-Americans in the South. Meanwhile, the massive urbanization and industrialization determined how people spent their leisure time (Karson, 1958; Campbell, 1999).

Urbanization and industrialization grew together. Cities had sufficient supply of workers on offer for new companies. There were means of transporting raw materials and markets for finished products these cities. The cities witnessed a proportional increase in its population (through immigration) as a response to growth of companies that sought workers (Campbell, 1999).

Construction of good houses were enough to meet the demands of the teeming population. Most houses found in these cities were multifamily houses called tenements and only working-class families and immigrants that could afford some rent could live in them. However, the tenements were poorly maintained, and the cities soon had many such slums. Such poor, overcrowded neighborhoods witnessed a huge increase in crime rates. Conversely, urbanization encouraged new technologies for architecture, transportation, sanitation and utilities. Additionally, cities provided new conventional opportunities (Shultz, 2014).

iii. Human rights

The laborers were forced to work for long, under very harsh conditions with low wages. Eventually, these workers got organized enough to stage protests and embarked on strikes to show their displeasures. These protests and strikes continued from the late 19th century to the early 20th century. The country responded by calling for reforms or repressing the workers totally. There were several groups that supported better treatment for the workers, but the women societies stood out amongst all: they fought for things like ending child labor, introducing minimum wages, improving health and safety conditions, at the work place (Oshinky, 1997).

iv. Farmers This industrialization affected farmers adversely as America went from being a country that thrived on agriculture to one that depended on industries (Shultz, 2014). As the Civil War ended, and the industrial revolution began, slavery was banned and the farmers had to till their soil themselves.

Effects on the political system

In the 1800s, the American industrial workers began to form unions. They believed it was possible for them to get better pays and working conditions from company owners if they could press their needs as a group instead of doing so individually. However, it was not easy for them to establish strong labor unions due to internal disjointed groups and backgrounds. At that time, most Americans preferred running personal businesses. They equally adopted an economic theory known as laissez-faire, in which running a business is free from governmental encumbrances. Therefore, when there were clashes between employers and employees, the government was inept at helping the workers in their fight for better wages and conditions (Karson, 1958; Campbell, 1999).

National federations controlled both the trade unions and industrial unions. The American Federation of Labor (AFL) was created by a coalition of different unions. Several industrial unions needed to become part of the bigger bodies like the Knights of Labor founded in 1870s, or the Industrial Workers of the World founded in 1905.

Both big bodies accepted both African-American and women as members. The AFL later encouraged the minorities and women to form affiliate local bodies, which led to the formation of the Women Trade Union League at the AFL meeting in 1903(Campbell, 1999; 1958).

The government responded positively to these unions. It started with the establishment of the Bureau of Labor in the Department of Interior and, a complete Department of Labor in 1913, with the Secretary of Labor in the Presidential Cabinet. Congress passed the Clayton Antitrust Act in 1914, which involved a section that declared that all unions were legally valid and that strikes and protests should not be seen as a violation of any federal law. During the First World War, the United States government abolished laissez-faire contentions and became more responsive to the conditions the unions brought before it (Karson, 1958).

The two main political parties

The Republican Party had almost complete control over the United Sates in the late 19th century-for…

Sources Used in Documents:


Campbell, B.C. (1999). Understanding Economic Changes in the Gilded Age. OAH Magazine of History.

Hofstadter, R. (1989). The American Political Tradition. New York: Vintage.

Karson, M. (1958). American Labor Unions and Politics, 1900-1918. Carbondale: Southern

Oshinsky, D. (1997). Worse Than Slavery: Parchman Farm and the Ordeal of Jim Crow

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