Evolution of the Nation Essay

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Pre-Civil War, the United States was way behind European countries like Great Britain, France, German and Belgium in terms of industrialization (Divine et al, 1991, p. 529). However, postwar, the nation saw its rise as an industrialized power, marked by economic boom, technological and medical advances and a transformed American society. The postwar industrialization was invigorated by the Civil War itself (Tindall and Shi, 1991, p. 889). The war brought on inflation which further enhanced the position of property owners and entrepreneurs (p.

889). Additionally, it was said that Republicans launched a policy built on business enterprise but its precise role in the countrys economic growth was not clearly justified (p. 889). It also helped that the government provided in creating regional and transcontinental railroads which not only paved the way for a revolution in transformation but also encouraged marketing across states (Jordan and Litwack, 1991, p. 533). The effects of this revolution in transportation would be discussed in length later on.

Civil War brought the people together, encouraged them to change the landscape of the nation. Several conditions made it easier to embrace this industrial revolution. One iron manufacturer described the country as a bowl brimming with treasures (Divine et al, 1991, p. 529). The country was teeming with natural resources such as coal, iron, timber and iron ore (p. 529). As if these were not encouraging enough, the nation also saw a growth in people as many immigrants reached the country (p. 529).

The population increase contributed to an increase in demand for products, which ultimately enabled businessmen and entrepreneurs to invest more, whether in factories or mines. When more Americans were able to provide funds for various ventures, industrialists formed corporations (p. 529). Compared to a single business, investors bought shares to own the company. Based on the corporations profit, they received dividend. This share buying enabled industrialists to raise more funds in augmenting the business (p. 530).

The US government, local, state and federal, was also a big factor in fueling economic boom. As stated earlier, the government served a pivotal role in railroads consolidation. But that was not all. The government bestowed money and land to jump start industries. Aside from safeguarding private properties, the government pushed for individual industrialism, where people became entrepreneurs, owners of their own enterprises. Entrepreneurs thrived during the Industrial Revolution. Railways were the key to the countrys expanding productivity.

It opened up linkages to other states. Railroads were instrumental in allowing transportation of raw materials like iron, steel and lumber to travel to the West, creating a national market in the process (Tindall and Shi, 1991, p. 889). Post-Civil War, the railroad mileage increased from 53,000 to 94,000 (p. 889). In fact, by 1880s, railroad building reached its peak, from 167,000 to 199,000 (p. 890). Railroads brought the nation together, allowing for faster travel, accessibility and comfort as compared to other forms of land transportation (Divine et al, 1991, p. 533).

For example, a horseback travel would cover 50 miles in one day but on a train, the travel time would also cost one hour (p. 533). Railroads made it easier for people to socialize to others, especially those living in isolated areas. Not only did it encourage mingling, railroads also fostered trade among states (p. 533). Carrying raw materials, railroads paved the way for mass production and mass consumption, which translated to greater financial wealth for the country (p. 533). The Industrial Revolution also saw the rise of Americans in inventions and manufacturing.

Alexander Graham Bells invention of the telephone created a centralized way of communication. Machines that were aimed at making work faster cropped out during this time, from the typewriter, cash register, to the electric sewing machine and refrigerator cars (Divine et al, 1991, p. 536). Advertising also saw an increase during this time as businesses tried to convince the public to buy their products or seek their services (p. 539). Newspapers and magazines were instrumental in the growth of advertising. The impact of industrialization saw the rise of Americans workers (Jordan and Litwack, 1991, p.

451). It was the workers themselves who toiled hard for the nation to reach its new industrial age but there was a start contrast between the two. While industry giants like Rockefeller and Carnegie continued to amass wealth and power, workers were left to do the hard work to ensure that giants stayed on top. In the 1900s, wage earners toiled for ten hours a day (Divine et al, 1991, p. 542). Earning $6-12 a week, families had a hard time surviving. Aside from the long hours and low pay, most workers had no job security (p. 542).

The introduction of machines also raised the risks for factory workers (Jordan and Litwack 1991, p. 451). Additionally, machines also reduced the task of workers, resulting in lower paychecks (p. 451). It also did not help that the working class was dominated by men. This labor unjust ushered in women and labor unions (p. 458). As with any economic boom, the country also experienced the lows of business cycles, with the panic of 1893 when bank loans grew bigger than deposits made, resulting in the collapse of many firms (Divine et al, 1991, p. 579). For a long time, the government did not stop monopolies.

This made the big companies control most of the industries. The concentration of power in the hands of the few was guaranteed to provoke the people to start questioning the system. It led eventually to the creation of the Sherman Act of 1890, which allowed the government to control big businesses (p. 576). The act was instrumental in breaking up one of the largest trust in the country- the Standard Oil (p. 579). The economic growth also made an impact to the government. During this time, the country experienced corruption, reform movements, and political party differences.

Factionalism was common. Republican reformers who called themselves Mugwumps sought for civil service reforms (Jordan and Litwack, 1991, p. 471). Under the Republican leadership of Presidents Hayes, Garfield, and Arthur, the issue of monetary policy was at stake (pp. 474-478). Following the depression of 1890, calls for reforms started to surface, leading in an era of progressivism. The progressivism was a movement that sought for democracy, social justice, honest government, effective business regulation, and a commitment to serve the public (Tindall and Shi, 1991, p.

1073). Mainly the idea was to bin the evil wrongdoings while preserving the system. Leaders of the progressive movement believed that doing the aforementioned would ensure the progress of the country. Journalists played a pivotal role in exposing the scandals and corruptions that plagued the country (Divine et al, 1991, p. 612). Journalists who dug the social ills of America were called muckrakers, after President Theodore Roosevelt related them to a character in John Bunyans Pilgrim Progress (p.

1074). Democracy was an important element in progressivism, as progressives thought that it would help the government in doing its work (p. 1076). Another major element of progressivism was productivity. Progressives believed that improving productivity would reduce waste. By incorporating Taylors theory on scientific management, which focused on dividing the production process into several step, progressives alleged that production would increase and mistakes would be eliminated (p. 1077-1078).

Progressives also called for business regulation, bureaucracy eradication, and strengthened social justice (p. 1080). Three presidents served during the Progressive Era- Theodore Roosevelt, Taft and Wilson. Each had their own vision on the spirit of progressivism.

References

Divine, R. et al. (1991). America the people and the dream Illinois: Scott, Foresman and Company. Jordan, W. and L. Litwack (1991). The United States combined edition. New Jersey: Prentice Hall. Tindall, G. and D. Shi (1991). America A Narrative History 5th Ed. New York: W. W. Norton and Company.

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