America Changes: Technologies and Inventions

America benefited greatly with different types of technology used for transportation throughout the 1800s. Railroads, bridges, steamboats, roads and canals are some examples of the types of transportation used. Railroads allowed Americans to travel freely from coast to coast for a very cheap price and was an efficient way to move goods over long distances.

The American Journey textbook says, “The railroads also played an important role in the settlement and industrialization of the Midwest. Fast, affordable train travel brought people into Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois.

As the population of these states grew, new towns and industries developed” (The American Journey Textbook 388). It allowed goods such as grain, livestock, and dairy products to move from the Midwest to the East. Businesses also expanded their markets because of the railroads.

This increased their possibilities for partnerships and to exchange ideas. It gave farmers access to new markets where they could sell and buy products as well. Bridges were a different type of transportation used in the 1800s that helped make traveling easier.

Traveling over bridges eliminated traveling over many harsh conditions such as rivers, mountains and rocky terrain. They also made it easier and faster to travel across long distances, like the railroads. Metal bridges helped vehicles travel over without worrying about the bridge breaking under because of all the weight. Bridges are safe and easier ways to travel. Roads and canals were another way to travel in the 19th century. The Erie Canal was a canal built between 1817 and 1825 and is known as the greatest public works project in America and was considered the longest artificial waterway.

Get quality help now
Dr. Karlyna PhD

Proficient in: Cotton

4.7 (235)

“ Amazing writer! I am really satisfied with her work. An excellent price as well. ”

+84 relevant experts are online
Hire writer

This canal turn New York into a major economic artery and its economic success led to more canal building.

The United states had 3,326 miles of canals by the 1840’s. Roads were also important transportation links. The National Road was one built between 1811 and 1834 that was about 620 miles long. This was the first federally funded road in American history and stretched from Cumberland, Maryland to Vandalia, Illinois with two connecting rivers, the Potomac and Ohio Rivers. This road was the main path of travel for thousands of settlers longing to travel West. Railroads, bridges, roads, and canals have all technologically helped America with the ease of fast transportation.

Technology in the 1800s helped with communication. Inventions such as the telegraph, typewriters, and newspapers all benefited America. Samuel Morse invented the telegraph that revolutionized long distance communication. The use of the telegraph contributed to the industrialization of the United States and accelerated the speed of business transactions. It also helped railroads communicate with each other in order to coordinate the arrival and departure of trains. The telegraph had a major impact on the United States, especially on the financial markets. The telegraph allowed businesses to communicate with each other on settling prices for products so market prices in one part of New York would be the same as prices in New York City.

Typewriters are another invention that helped change how communication was spread in America. It made it easier to write and read documents which benefited the government and how their papers looked. They looked more official and neat; handwriting back then was very hard to read and having it typed would be much better for official document. Using the typewriter was quicker to use too. It only took an hour or so to type with the typewriter; using ink and a quill pen took hours. On the Smithsonian Center for Education and Museum Studies website, they say, “The typewriter, by reducing the time and expense involved in creating documents, encouraged the spread of systematic management. It allowed a system of communications that shaped the business world” (Lubar and Kendrick 6). Typewriter ink and rolls also lasted longer than ink from a bottle. Using ink and rolls saved a great amount of time and money and people wouldn’t have to replace the ink as much.

Newspapers helped with communication across the country as well. The population in the United States was growing which caused more and more people to spread out all over the country. As new towns formed, new newspaper establishments were created. Advances in the printing press also meant that more newspapers could be printed daily and could reach more people faster. This also meant that the cost of newspapers would be cheaper because people could print and produce so many newspapers now. Using technology as forms of communication has become easier and cheaper to move information across long distances.

Technology played a huge role in the industry and agriculture during the early to mid 19th Century. An Inventor by the name of Eli Whitney created a machine called the cotton gin in 1793. It quickly and efficiently removed the cotton seeds from the fiber making it possible to clean the cotton much faster and more cheaply by hand. According to the American Journey textbook, “The cotton gin enabled one worker to clean cotton as fast as 50 people working by hand… Between 1790 and 1820, cotton production siared from 3,000 to more than 300,000 bales a year.” (Appleby, Joyce, et al. The American Journey. Glencoe/McGraw-Hill, 2012. pg. 309).

The demand for cotton had grown steadily with the development of the textile industries of New England and Europe. This machine made it much easier to process cotton resulting in a greater availability and cheaper cloth. It also helped strengthen slavery in the South. The cotton gin made cotton processing less labor-intensive and helped planters earn greater profits encouraging them to grow larger crops, which in turn required more people. Because slavery was the cheapest form of labor, cotton farmers simply acquired more slaves.

The steam engine was another famous invention used in 1830 designed by Peter Cooper. People were able to travel much faster and for a cheaper price. Trade was made much easier and it could now be built anywhere in the country without relying on wind or water power like factories did. Interchangeable Parts were big during the Industrial Revolution as well. Machines took over most of the manufacturing work from men and factories replaced craftsman’s workshops. The Industrial Revolution was the introduction of interchangeable parts. They were used for all practical purposes into the firearm industry. These parts were popularized in America when inventor, Eli Whitney, used them to assemble muskets in the early 19th century. This allowed workers to produce large numbers of weapons quickly and at a lower cost. It also made repair and replacement of parts easier to fix. The cotton gin, steam engine, and interchangeable parts all played a major role in agriculture during the 19th century because of their reliability and ease.

Women’s role in society caused social changes in American history. There was the educational reform that argued that the poor state of education threatened the nation’s well-being. Horace Mann was the leader of the educational reform and he was the one who improved the school curriculum, lengthened the school year to six months, developed better ways of training teachers, and doubled teachers’ salaries.

Horace Mann said, “If we do not prepare our children to be good citizens, then our republic must go down to destruction, as others have gone before it” (Mann 413). Educational reform also helped to bring all state-sponsored public education, including a local property tax and a statewide curriculum, to finance public education. Because of all of these changes, all students would now be able to learn reading, writing, arithmetic, history, geography, and math because of the educational reform. Prison reform also caused social change in America. Imprisonment was used to imprison people who could not repay their debts. They were often housed with violent criminals and hence they were subjected to miserable and sometimes violent conditions. Additionally, their imprisonment prevented them from working, making it impossible for them to pay their debts.

Prison reformer, named Enoch C. Wines, believed that most criminals could be reformed through hard work in addition to aid of religion and education. He advocated for a system where inmates were rewarded for their good behavior and could be released once they were reformed. This theory ultimately led to the practice of parole and giving convicts an indeterminate sentence. During the mid-1800s, significant changes were made to penitentiaries as well as local jails in terms of separating different types of inmates.

There were some jails that placed women in cells with male prisoners. Some local jails placed women in large holding cells with male prisoners. In this situation female inmates were often subjected to rape and other acts of violence. In 1839 the first step was taken to improve conditions for female inmates when a separate women’s prison was built. The Abolition Movement ended slavery throughout the nation and made it possible for African Americans to become citizens one day. Before the Abolition Movement started, slavery wasn’t a huge issue that many people didn’t worry about. Later on, the country started to realize that it was a bigger issue than they had ever believed. One of the first white abolitionists, named William Lloyd Garrison, made more people aware of how awful slavery is and how people could help end it. These reforms and movements changed women’s role in society immensely and it could not have happened without reformers such as Mann, Wines, and Garrison.

America faced many social changes when talking about the Utopian communities. The Shakers, Brooke Farm, and Oneida are the three communities that reflected the most social change in the 1800s. The Shakers were a religious group in America and built a community of their own where they are celibate. They believed in opportunities for intellectual and artistic development within the Society and each participated in the rigorous daily task of transforming the earth into heaven.

In 1817, the Shakers’ southern societies freed the slaves belonging to members and began buying black believers out of slavery. The Shakers were suddenly appreciated as successful communitarians when Americans became interested in communities, as successful utopians when America hosted a hundred utopian experiments, as spiritualists when American parlors filled with mediums and with voices from other worlds. They also invented hundreds of labor saving devices like the clothespin and the circular saw.

Brook Farm was another utopian community in America at the time. The experiment at Brook Farm played a key role in the development of American religious and cultural philosophy. According to, “Brook Farm was to combine the thinker and the worker, to guarantee the greatest mental freedom, and to prepare a society of liberal, cultivated persons, whose relations with each other would permit a more wholesome and simpler life than could be led amid the pressure of competitive institutions” ( It is better known than most and has a secure place in U.S. social history because of the distinguished literary figures and intellectual leaders associated with it.

The Oneida was considered a utopian community as well. They were a county of religious men and women called the Bible Communists that helped raise five infantry regiments of volunteers for the Civil War. They lived in Oneida, New York and believed in marrying multiple spouses within the community. They manufactured many different types of goods that were considered some of the best in the land and also made silverware, traps, canned fruit, and embroidered silk that helped very much with their growth. They eventually held up a stock system that was known as the Oneida Community and they carried on the various industries such as silver plates. Several utopian communities, like the ones mentioned here, affected America socially.

The temperance movement socially impacted America and its views on society. The temperance movement was fundamental to the concept of individual choice and responsibility.

The American Temperance Society was known to be the most widespread reform of the 19th century. People wanted to stop the consumption of alcohol to improve the better general family life in America. It was the first U.S social organization to promote national support for a national cause. According to, “Temperance, the crusade against strong drink, was by far the largest reform movement of the early 1800s, and one of the most successful” (

Taking the pledge was a conscious act that one person did in an effort to make himself or herself a better human being. Carry Nation was a women involved in the temperance movement and was also a women’s rights activist during the Civil War. She believed that people being drunk was a main cause of turmoil in the country and that drinking and smoking was extremely wrong and called for them to be illegal. She was jailed many times for fighting against and smashing saloons.

Due to her strong feelings against alcohol and smoking, the 18th Amendment was pushed forward and eventually passed even if it was repealed soon after. The Salvation Army also promotes national support for a national cause. It was founded in 1865, in the East End of London, by William Booth. Booth was an evangelist who wanted to offer practical help to the poor and destitute as well as preaching the Gospel to them. During the Great Depression, the Salvation Army provided food and lodging for those in need, and during both world wars it distinguished itself through its work with the armed forces. By then, it had come to be appreciated as an important international charity organization.

America in the 1800s encountered political changes to white manhood suffrage. The Common Man Era presented political factors to America because it was the first time in United States history that a man born in humble circumstances was now President. This era influenced the notion of the equality of opportunities for all white men. Voters believed that, “the people” had finally assumed control of their government in Jackson’s administration.

As “the spokesman” of the common man, Jackson showed concern for issues such as farming and mechanic advancement, anti- banking, and egalitarian principles. It was these issues that aided Jackson in remaining popular with the common man ideals. Kendall H. from says, “Jackson served as the ideal common man. Common origins no longer detracted from a candidate. Nor did a candidate have to attend Harvard or William and Mary. Jackson became the living embodiment of the changes and improvements going on throughout the United States” (Kendall H., Andrew Jackson grew up poor and had supported the common man because of this. He believed that all white men should be able to vote, which was a step in the right direction in eventually letting African American men to be able to vote. Jackson, being the extravagant man that he was, helped clean up and restore buildings and service areas and grounds of the White House, which would help improve success there. Jackson and the Common Man Era reflected many political changes to the government during the 19th century.

Many different people, declarations, and conventions helped women’s rights become possible. The Declaration of Sentiments is one of America’s most important documents advocating women’s rights. It was created to call upon women to organize and petition to gain the rights and privileges that they were denied. It’s purpose was to achieve equality and to bring change to a sexist society. People like Lucretia Mott and Elizabeth Stanton were some of the leading voices of the abolitionist and feminist movements of their time.

Lucretia Mott helped form the Philadelphia Female Anti-Slavery Society in 1833, and later was among the founders of the American women’s rights movement. Mott’s feminist views are outlined in her Discourse on Women written in 1850, where she argued for equal economic opportunity and voting rights. Elizabeth Stanton held the famous National Women’s Right Convention in July of 1848 and also formed the National Women’s Loyal League with Susan B. Anthony in 1863. The National Women’s Rights Convention called for equal rights for all women and launched the Suffragette Movement.

This movement encouraged women all across the country to stand up for their rights and take action against those who protested against them. With this convention taking place, these women were able to plan how exactly they would take action to have equal rights, especially being able to vote in all elections. Without women’s votes in elections, opinions would surely not vary very much because only half the country was able to vote. These two incredible women influenced a remarkable amount of political change for women’s rights in the mid 1800s.

The various compromises of the 1800s displays political changes in American history. The Compromise of 1820 is one of them. This compromise sustained the balance between slave and free states so there wouldn’t be fighting over the imbalance in the country. It also banned slavery in the remainder of the Louisiana Territory north of lines 36 degrees 30. This agreement eventually fueled and paved the way for the Emancipation Proclamation, which was the law that banned slavery across the United States. The website,, states, “Nevertheless, the act helped hold the Union together for more than thirty years” (Foner and Garraty,

The Compromise of 1850 was another compromise that showed political change. This compromise is a series of five separate bills that contained the five main points of Henry Clay’s original plan. In this compromise, the Fugitive Slave Act was amended and the slave trade was abolished. The Whig party also had political significance during the 19th century. The Whig party was a political party that opposed President Jackson. They stood for national banking, protective tariffs, and federal aid. The Whigs also supported the importance of Congress over the importance of the executive branch. Both of these compromises and the Whig party greatly influenced America’s political state.

Cite this page

America Changes: Technologies and Inventions. (2021, Dec 18). Retrieved from

Let’s chat?  We're online 24/7