Rise of industrialization
Inherently the industrialization in America started in late 19th century and continued gradually up through the civil war. Actually, the American industry at the time was characterized by hand labor, which limited the production capacity of the industries. In addition, most of these businesses were serving small markets owing to the fact that they lacked capital imperative for expansion. However, after the civil war, the American industry revolutionized dramatically. Specifically, machines replaced hand labor in manufacturing processes, and consequently, this increased the production capacity. Moreover, a new nationwide railway network was put in place to aid distribution of manufactured goods far and wide. In addition, investors came up with new products that were required by the public.
Evidently, the rise of industrialization in the United States brought about tremendous changes in the economy. The changes included urbanization as a result of immigration especially, due to new technologies, economic simulation, together with the rise of big businesses. Moreover, some of the factors that influenced growth of industrialization include the fact that America had an abundant supply of natural resources, availability of labor, and favorable patent systems that would protect the rights of the investors. Phillip reveals that most of the investors were from already industrialized countries such as France, Britain and Germany, who were looking for new investment opportunities in America.
The major players
Evidently, the main players in America industrial revolution included the middlemen, investors, middleclass and lower class. Mainly, the middlemen were involved in transportation industries such as the railroads. They would buy farm products from the farmers and transport them to the industries. Moreover, the investors owed the factories which include; the steam, steel and textile industries. Similarly, the some of the middle class had small businesses while others were employed as office and factory managers. Further, the lower-class or the underprivileged were employed as laborers who toiled to the industries.
Inherently, technology played a critical role in development of the industries. First, there was the development of machines. Generally, introduction of machinery was aimed at replacing hand labor which the earlier industries depended upon. Essentially, machinery was introduced not only in the factories, but also in the agricultural farms. The advances in the agricultural equipment, along with techniques assisted the farmers to achieve increased production. Similarly, with the introduction of machine in the manufacturing industries, business owners were in a position to achieve economies of scale, which subsequently gave rise to specialization in production of goods. Specialization encouraged production of large quantities of goods that was distributed throughout the country.
Another, facet of technology was in the transport sector. Railroads were introduced in America in the nineteenth century. Actually, the efficiency of railways in transporting large and bulky goods was a crucial role in enabling significant drop in the cost of transportation of goods to the markets and consequently, increasing profitability. Mainly, railway enabled distribution of manufactured goods throughout the country far and wide. Despite the fact that automobile technology developed in Germany, its effects were greatly felt in the American industries. Automobiles did not only ease transportation of goods, but it also increased transportation speed. Development of automobiles also brought about the emergence of other related industries in America.
Another significant technology advancement that was crucial in the industrial revolution was in the communication sector. Actually, the capacity to transmit information over long distances proved to be of great impact in a number of fields such as journalism, banking as well as diplomacy. The telephone and telegraph transmitters were developed in the 19th century. The development of the communication industry played an imperative role in the growth of industries.
Energy sector was also part of technological advancement that was useful to the industries. First was the discovery of crude oil, which not only provided energy for industries, but also resulted to rise other industries such as refineries, and pipelines. Specifically, petroleum products were used for providing heat and light in family houses, lubrication of machinery in industries, and fuel for internal combustion engines. Kelvin notes that petroleum can be associated with rapid industrialization in the country. In addition, discovery of electricity revolutionized American commerce and industry. Actually, electricity was far much better than the petroleum lighting sources. Apart from lighting, electricity has also been used in driving electric motors, which became an important aspect of the industries.
The working class
With the development of industries, workers were hired to operate machines and provide labor to the industries. Inherently, each worker was allocated specific job through a system of organizing laborers, referred to as a division of labor, consequently speeding up production. Mainly, the working class was comprised of the middle class and the underprivileged. While the middle class included workers such as factory and office managers, the underprivileged were employed as laborers who toiled in mills, mines and factories. The underprivileged would work for over 60 hours in a week and earned about 20 cents per hour, and moreover, they did not have any fringe benefits.
Rise and significance of the labor movement
Generally, in the early 1900, a strong spirit of reform was evident in the whole of United States. The reforms sought to have changes that will reduce activities, regulate major businesses, and improve the living conditions for the poor. Consequently, the early reform efforts did not leave the laborers behind. In the late 1800, movements aimed at organizing laborers and farmers were initiated. Essentially, the federation of organized trades and labor unions was founded by Samuel Gompers in 1881, and its goals consisted of encouraging the formation of trade unions. Moreover, in 1886, Mcguire together with other leaders formed the American Federation of Labor (AFL) and mainly focused on skilled laborers. AFL mandate included bargaining with employers as well as fought for better wages and working conditions. Similarly, the farmers also formed the National Grange in 1967 and later founded the Farmers’ Alliances between 1870 and 1880. The groups achieved one of their key responsibilities of lowering railway charges for transporting farm products. Later in 1880, united Mine Workers of America (UMW), which was behind formation of the congress of Industrial Organization in 1930s through the leadership of John Lewis. The AFL merged with CIO in 1955 to form the American Federation of Labor-Congress of Industrial Organization (AFL-CIO) under the leadership of George Meany.
Inherently, the struggle for the reform was very high after 1890, and the labor unions, supported by the social workers reported on the awful living conditions in the slums, and especially residential places for the underprivileged. This was followed by unskilled labor strikes which were attempts for workers to gain concession from the employers. Moreover, the strikers were also supported by socialists who were against the United States economic system of capitalism that was emerging.
Gilded Age and America Today
Evidently, the Gilded Age portrays some similarities with today’s America. Actually, the gilded age was a period, around 1900, that characterized by horrific labor violence, whereby, the industrialists fought over the control of workplace with the workers. Consequently, the workers started organizing labor unions. First, during the Gilded Age significant number of people were living under poverty, and a similar case has been reported currently. Moreover, in 1900 top 20 percent of American families took 55 percent of the total household income, while currently, the top fifth’s portion is 50 percent.