Nov 26, 2020 in History

Consequences of the Second American Industrial Revolution

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The Second Industrial Revolution in the US between 1860s and 1900s caused a lot of rapid changes in the country. The unprecedented urbanization and major territorial expansion led to the immediate need for massive industry. There had been a lot of contradictory opinions concerning the rapid industrial development. Some people called it a great progress, while the others understood that the reliance on slave labor in this revolution was very fragile. Thus, these people felt anxious and terrified of what might come after the revolution. Naturally, the Second Industrial Revolution and the Civil War made the economy of the country grow considerably due to the range of factors. The United States was surrounded by the abundance of resources from new territories and had an increased number of labor power emigrating from Europe. The market of goods was expanding, and capital for investments became available. However, despite all the undeniable benefits of this development, there were a lot of negative consequences for working conditions, the environment, and the political virtue of the country. Thus, whether these benefits were worth the sacrifice is a difficult question.

The economic growth of the US at that time was really extraordinary and fast but yet unstable. The world economy was at the breaking point and corporations competed fiercely to gain control over industries. For those entrepreneurs who were able to make money from these technological breakthroughs, the Industrial Revolution was profitable. For others, it turned out to be a failure. That is why the Second Industrial Revolution is called a period of great extremes. There was either great expansion or deep depression, either great wealth or widespread poverty, either new opportunities or returning to old standards (Engelman).

Millions of people between 1870s and 1890s lost their work or were reduced in payment. The ones who remained a part of the industrial world had to endure dangerous working conditions, long hours of labor, low wages and no pensions. However, not all working groups were touched by those terrible conditions. To the small minority of workers, the new industrial system provided new forms of freedom. Being skilled and qualified, the workers received high wages for their industrial work and controlled a large part of the manufacturing process. Thus, people from tops labeled it progress, but those who worked hard at factories understood the price of this progress.

Having seeing a range of opportunities in the economically strong country, a lot of people from the rest of the world have been trying to penetrate into the US. Various races and ethnicities started to mingle in the West at the 19th century. A lot of immigrants from Russia, Scandinavia, and Germany started to settle farms in Minnesota. Chinese came to California, while Irish, Slovak and Cornish miners moved to the mountain states. The cultural diversity in the US caused a lot of antipathies from the Native Americans who did not wish to share their lands and job places with foreigners.

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The reason for a vivid change in the nature of work and the labor force is the trend toward large-scale production. Employers considered it more profitable to replace skilled labor with machines. With the rapid growth of industrial technologies, there appeared a need for educated specialists who could work with certain equipment. Thus, in the sequence of the Second Industrial Revolution, the United States established a lot of higher education institutions all over the country.

As a result of increasing unemployment and terrible working conditions, a lot of labor unions started to emerge. They were fighting for the rights of workers, the shortage of hours, the improvement of conditions, and everything they did not agree with. Nonetheless, those were the sacrifices needed for the procession of the revolution. The Second Industrial Revolution was a breakthrough in the lives of all Americans. It led to extremely high level of steel processing which resulted in the railroad construction. That was the moment when the country started to expand and prosper, uniting everyone from East to West. Moreover, there had been made advances in the use of electricity and oil which helped to improve the transportation and communication. The telegraph and later telephone connection appeared in the country during 1870s. The reason why factory workers were not happy with their life and working condition was the fact that at that time in the US the dominance had only powerful corporations and big businesses. For the working class there was no place. Also, the problem of child labor was blamed to be the cause of big business world.

The Second Industrial Revolution in America brought a lot of benefits and considerable problems for the citizens of the US. The majority of workers experienced economic instability and terrible working conditions of factories. The cost of this revolution was the extreme poverty of the workings class and no middle ground between rich entrepreneurs and common people. To survive, families had to compel women and children to work long hours for low wages. The fact that due to the Second Industrial Revolution America became the most economically powerful and developed country in the world is undeniable. Yet, terrible consequences of it cannot be forgotten. People of the lower class of the society had to endure violence and horrible treatment in order the country could become a world leader. Thus, the United States became a mature industrial society having paid a cost of major sufferings of common people that must not ever be forgotten.

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