There are many factors that play an important role in the rise of the United States as the premier industrial nation. Technological innovations are arguably not what brought dominance over other industrial nations it was the advantages the United States had over these competing nations. These advantages include cheap labor supply, abundant resources, rapidly growing populations, and business and manufacturing innovations, as discussed in the lecture. During early industrialization, major technologies that were implemented were but not limited to, power, transportation, and materials.
Power included water wheels, steam engines, and coal, as transportation included the use of steamboats and railroads. The major materials that were used during this time was steel and petroleum. As there were new technological advances this also brought forth new organizational strategies, and those who implemented them. A few well-known individuals from this time period used such organizational strategies to drive their success while also using horizontal and vertical integration, such as Carnegie, Rockefeller, and Ford.
Andrew Carnegie is most known for being a steel magnate with his Steel company (which is now known as U.
S.steel), while John D. Rockefeller is known for being the oil magnate with his Standard Oil Company and also being considered the most hated and mistrusted individual. Henry Ford is a name you still hear constantly to this day, he is known for being the automobile magnate and becoming the first company to implement the factory assembly line and begin mass production of automobiles in 1913 (now known as Ford.) Technology, urbanization, immigration, and industrialization contributed majorly to the rise of the country.
Technological innovations, such as Thomas A. Edison’s system of power generation and light. “Electricity revolutionized the world. It not only illuminated the night, it powered the Second Industrial Revolution. Factories could operate anywhere at any hour.
Electric rail cars allowed for cities to build out and electric elevators allowed for them to build up.” (The American Yawp) As railroads released labor demands that joint thousands of farmers and immigrants and connected many towns and cities (The American Yawp), they not only changed economics alone, but it also redesigned the American culture. Urbanization, immigration, and industrialization all play a role within one another that some would say, creates a triangle system for their relationship. As industrialization brought tax base to urbanization, markets were then returned to the industrialization factor. As urbanization created opportunities to immigrants, immigrants then contributed to urbanization with their tax base when becoming residents. Immigrants then contributed their labor into the industries while these industries gave them a job. This whole “triangle” if you will, continues to stay in motion, without one, the others wouldn’t have been as successful.
According to the textbook, in 1920, the U.S. census publicized that a majority of Americans lived in urban areas, and much of the urban growth came from millions of immigrants that came pouring into the nation. The reason these immigrants left their counties and decided to come to the United States are also known as “push and pull factors.” Although there are various reasons to why an individual or whole family would decide to leave their home country, by far the most important factor drawing immigrants was economics. Immigrants came to the United States looking for work. (The American Yawp) As these newly traveled immigrants were desperate to begin working, they were willing to work for low wages, thus allowing for these industries to profit higher amounts. The majority of the immigrants came to the United States with the intention of returning to their home nation with some money, while the others that stayed became part of an immigrant community, developing various organizations and societies.
Eventually Americans took notice of the urban crisis that had arose as the influx of population did as well. These cities were becoming too crowded, with some unlivable conditions. The living conditions were far from great during this time period due to the lack of building codes and anything regarding public sanitation. Factory owners often referred to the working class as objects, not necessarily a breathing human being. As before, the working class was more known to be only men, during this time period you would often see men, women, and children laboring in textile mills, and even mines. Economically, these women and children working in the same dangerous working conditions as the men would receive the lowest pay. Eventually the working class could no longer suppress their suffering and fought for fair wages and laws to protect them. Although, this did not change the outcome of cities continuing to boom until a later time. Industries continued to flourish, and raise the capital needed to allow industrialization to the rest of the United States. As American industry ascended, this also allowed changes to be made, socially, politically, and economically.
The social changes included but weren’t limited to, the increase in population and urbanization, as well as the formation of new social classes. The industrial and urban development made society more diverse and less unified. Although there was some diversity of the middle class, the largest percentage was the working class was about 80% of the population. Your social class often depended on what your skills were, the greater the skill, the more socially inclined you will be. The gap between the wealthy and the working class remained immense, as it continues to remain to this day. The economy was described with the trend known as the “boom and bust”, as business would often increase greatly in a short amount of time, it will almost decline twice as fast. This economic relationship continued to fluctuate and create monopolies. Monopolies can be described as when an organization or company maintained singular control over a specific commodity, such as Rockefeller’s Standard Oil Company, and Carnegie’s Steel company, thus effectively setting the national price for such commodity.
As these economic trends were often nonregulated by the government, there was much political corruption during this time as well. With a person in charge if you will, the population would turn to this face to voice their concerns and expect changes to be made, as you can imagine, one person with expectations so high it would begin to become overwhelming. “Becoming mayor of a big city in the Gilded Age was like walking into a cyclone.” (ushistory.org) As a tool to cope with the high demands within the populations, these so-called political bosses emerged. These bosses would ease the chaos for the political face to continue to maintain its happy constituents. Voter fraud and bribes were very common during this time as well. As the clash between traditional culture and the modern progress grew stronger, this change influenced an industrial society as opposed of the previous agrarian society. With the poor treatment of the working class finally being voiced, this encouraged the passage of labor-related legislation such as the 1938 Fair Labor Standards Act. Important laws to come out of this time period influenced labor, equality, and freedom for all over time.