America is a magnificent and influential country. However, has it always been that way? Of course not. When one of most influential politicians of the United States, Abraham Lincoln, died, the country began to literally fall apart, and the entire world thought that the whole experiment called “democracy” failed. Just the few people believed that it was the beginning of something bigger. America was about to meet its most outstanding personalities, who turned the country, and made it better. Certainly, everyone came across such names as Rockefeller, Carnegie, and Ford. The Industrialization era is the time of the most outstanding entrepreneurs the history ever knew, which changed America and provided millions of people with job opportunities. These people were the progenitors of the modern global businessmen: Gates, Branson, and Buffet. They gave the Americans the hope for a brighter future, and those, who listened to the advice of these businessmen, were able to built their own happiness, achieve success, and influence in society.
Despite of all the negative aspects of industrialization, such as child labor and the rise of monopolies, it was the era when the standard of the American Dream was created. Thanks to such people, as Cornelius Vanderbilt, John D. Rockefeller, J.P. Morgan, Andrew Carnegie, and Henry Ford people were able to build a brand new world in less than fifty years. “By providing investment opportunities and by lowering the cost of living, industrialization created the modern American middle class”. (Rees, 2013)
The process of industrialization would not be as successful as it was without its three major aspects: “the division of labor, specialization, and mechanization”. (Backer) Due to the division of labor, every geographical area had its own specialization, making some areas rural, and others urban. Different branches of economy, mining, oil production, and agriculture were located in various geographical regions, what strongly affected people’s lives. With the emergence of cities, most of the people lived in urban areas, and each year that number was only growing. Not only the Americans wanted to live and work in cities, however, there were myriad of immigrants, wanting to find their happiness in the US. Therefore, when the number of immigrants was tremendously high, the decision has been made to pass the first restrictive federal immigration law — the Page Act if 1875. The law prohibited the entrance of the “undesired” stratums, such as Asian women, and all the other people who were condemned in their own country.
Industrialization had also a big impact on American economy and politics. It marked the beginning of great developmental policies: “the political construction of an unregulated national market, adherence to the international gold standard, and tariff protection for industry.”(Bensel, 2000)
Industrialization affected all social classes, in a very large degree. For that people life in America had changed for good, and they did not have any choice than to get used to life in a totally new country, new economy. However, from all the segments of the population live of the Native Americans was affected the most. As it was already mentioned, the rise in the industry caused a significant migration to the Western part of the country. Thousands of Americans and immigrants were seeking for new land, opportunities, and money. After the Transcontinental Railroad was constructed, the amount of people heading west increased even more, what had eventually led to the relocation of the Native Americans. As a result, the conflict between Americans and Indians escalated even more.
The second group of people, largely affected by the industrialization was the American working middle and lower classes. Of course, for the biggest part of the American middle class industrialization brought a lot of benefits: the level of education increased, there were more goods on the market, they could even afford a cheap Model T car. Also, during the years industrialization a middle class management was born, and more and more people, inspired by Rockefeller, Carnegie, and Morgan became entrepreneurs and started their own businesses. However, these are all the positive effects of the industrial progress. The specialization and the division of labor were followed by the production of factory machines. With the creation of assembling line scores of people across the country lost their jobs, what led to the mergence of labor unions, such as the Knights of Labor. They were founded to fight the system, what also very often led to violent rebellions.
Together with the factory workers, a myriad of farmers also suffered from the industrialization. Due to the mechanization and commercialization of the agriculture, the competition among the farmers raised increasingly, what lead to low incomes.
And the last, but not the least group of people, affected by the industrialization in America was the immigrants. When they came to America looking for freedom and better life, Americans had a sense of ethnocentrism. Industrialization gave them the idea than one nation is better than the order, what had eventually led to the laying down of immigration laws, such as the Chinese Exclusion Act, or the Page Act. Due to the increase of number of European Jews in America, anti-Semitism had also increased.
Backer, P. R. (n.d.). Industrialization of American Society. Industrialization of American Society. Retrieved May 5, 2014, from http://www.engr.sjsu.edu/pabacker/industrial.htm
Bensel, R. F. (2000). The political economy of American industrialization, 1877-1900. Cambridge [England: Cambridge University Press.
Rees, J. (2013). Industrialization and the transformation of American life: a brief introduction. Armonk, N.Y.: M.E. Sharpe, Inc..