Industrial Change and Effect
During the early 1840s, the United States became more industrialized.
Beginning in the Northeast, the railroads opened new markets and
raw materials could be shipped in larger quantities to more places.
Industrialization and urbanization was, in many cases, intrinsically
linked. Improvements in machinery cause an increase in the number
of mills and factories. This, in turn, fueled a building boom turning
some small towns into burgeoning cities.
Communication via telegraph served to knit the new nation together.
Expositions in Philadelphia in 1876 and Chicago in 1893 served as
showcases of progress.
Much of the early industrial development began
in the Northeast because of its ready work force, adequate natural
resources, and established industries. New England became known
for its textile and paper mills, and straw-hat, shoe, and tool and
die manufacturing. In Western Massachusetts, mills and factories
were built along the major rivers: the Connecticut, Green, Millers,
Deerfield, and Westfield. Factories that produced cutlery, machinery,
paper, and textiles were the predominant industries in the Connecticut
River Valley. Huge machines such as the Corliss Steam Engine (built
in Connecticut) fueled industrial growth. They were able to produce
vast amounts of energy, far more than the earlier waterpower technology.
During the 1800s, the agrarian roots of the country
were giving way to those of industry, and social stratification
became readily apparent. At one end of the economic spectrum were
the industrial giants, capitalists who created banks, railroads,
and new markets for commerce. At the other end were the factory
workers, servants and farmers, a large portion of whom were immigrants
from Ireland, Scotland, and later Poland. The importance of maintaining
the American democratic ideal (each individual has an opportunity
to enjoy the fruits of his/her society) became an issue. Reform
movements emerged as immigrants, women, and people with African
heritage struggled to obtain rights and reasonable working conditions
while they labored to develop an unsurpassed industrial society.
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