America during the Civil War cannot be compared of what the society is enjoying today in terms of industrialization and equal rights. After the chaos during the World Wars and the Great Depression, America undergone a period called the Reconstruction. It was during 1865 to 1876 when the country tried very hard to unite the South, and the Civil Rights movement was getting stronger as the freed slaves found themselves in uncertainty. It can be considered one of the most difficult times in the history of America where it tried to reorganize and heal itself from the chaos brought about by wars and depression.
Right after the end of the Reconstruction, rapid industrialization took place in the 19th century with the use of cheap land, labor, water facilities, and advancements in transportation. When the transportation was developed, African Americans and Latin Americans moved to the cities in search for jobs in the factory lines and other menial works. Generally, it was a period when the rate of migration shoots up. It was As a result, the United States of America was responsible for a large percentage of products transported worldwide. Industrialization has given opportunity to businessmen to compete in the free market. On the other hand, the gap between the few rich and the majority poor became visible as it has widened.
As the gaps widened, social discontent intensified. The growing dissent among the workers and the poor farmers led to the birth of social movements especially in the form of trade unions. The Civil Rights movement grew stronger to demand equal right of minorities who are experiencing racial discrimination in the midst of the industrialization. Progressive trade union movements led to the eradication of wage discrimination and the eight-hour a day labor policy.
After the Civil War, innovations such as those with the railroad influenced country's economy and helped it prosper. One of the key features describing the United States at that time was the increase of people's wealth. An example of this is the number of Philadelphia millionaires in 1892 which had reached 200. The mass media was flooded with information about businessmen's lives and activity. They were constantly at the center of attention, and they were the subject of books and received invitations to conferences. Focus on the life of the businessmen help to distract and lessen the social discontent among farmers and sole proprietors.
The larger firms had exerted full market control in various sectors like coal mining, meat packing and iron steel along with others. The economic and political development of big corporations led to concern followed by panic within society. Americans felt anxious about monopolies appearing and threatening democracy and free competition that were the basis for republic.
Americans in search of opportunities were especially interested in the various social restructuring projects. There was a rising interest in socialism which contributed to the creation of trade unions and cooperatives. Between the times of 1865 and 1920, big cities were where most if not all of the labor, political and economic forces were located. In 1860, there were only 9 cities with population exceeding 100,000 people; the number of the cities with populations in these numbers reached 50 by 1910. Seaports such as Boston and Philadelphia were situated on intercrossing and therefore promoted better opportunities for trade and transport. Industrialization and urbanization strengthened each other. Meanwhile, overcrowding and poor sanitation of American cities caused mass incidents of infection such as dysentery, cholera and typhoid. To correct these problems the municipalities performed urban construction, drainage, and water supply planning, and also beautification of the city districts.
Many progressives such as Louis Brandeis hoped to make American governments better able to serve the people's needs by making government operations and services more efficient and better structured. First, to minimize the corruption that plagued the American cities, the demand was made for better control of the situation from the authorities with the help of direct of government organizations. Progressives focused their attention on governmental reforms on state level and for the benefit of expanding cities. They strived for better education for children both male and female regardless of the parent’s views on formal education. As a result, numerous women moved to the cities in order to succeed as school teachers. Second, progressives considered charity not only as a hobby for those who could afford it but made it a social responsibility and therefore organized special social work courses. After 1907, the American Federation of Labor demanded an adoption of the law for trade unions. Laws included those on the eight-hour day, the minimum wage for women, paying an employee sick leave, work safety and the health protection of factory workers. These laws were supported by Democrats and President Theodore Roosevelt.
Outside of American politics, progressives were often denied the role in politics or apart of the financial elite. Progressives fought against big corporations and the wealthy influential families. Their political influence was mainly local. They struggled to overcome drinking and to close drinking establishments and stimulated the settlement of middle class in poor areas. Many progressives such as Susan B. Anthony believed that the use of alcohol interfered with the progress of the nation and demanded the adoption of the dry law. In 1919, they secured the adoption of the 18th Amendment to the US Constitution which banned the manufacture, sale and transport of alcoholic beverages for consumption. This amendment was later repealed in 1933. With their participation, special structures were grounded in many cities to monitor the spending of budgetary funds.
After the Civil War, the US emerged as a united and powerful nation with a strong federal government. Reconstruction ended slavery; former slaves received civil rights, but their political influence after the war gradually weakened, and eventually they became second-class citizens. Life in America had become one of a racial segregation which was legalized in the South by special acts that in many ways resembled the old Black Codes. Politics was dominated by the Republican Party. A Democratic president came to power only twice during this period of time. Progressivism in the United States after 1900 witnessed large-scale social and political reform which resulted in a more modern look for America.
An important outcome of the industrial revolution in the United States was the formation of the industrial working class. During this time the working class of the United States began to struggle against exploitation. Between the time of 1825 and 1837 people began to form the trade union movements. Some of the movements around this time include the Trade Union Federation and the National Union. During the industrial crisis in 1857, many of the unions had broken up.
Many of the changes created in the United States that occurred as a result of the Civil War have given a second birth to the country. Having experienced a remarkable economic growth, the United States has become one of the major players on the international scene by the beginning of 20th century.
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