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Industrialization after the Civil War

The Industrial revolution that occurred in the 19th century significantly changed American’s ways of life and had a profound effect on the subsequent world economy. Industrialization is the process by which a society transforms from an agricultural-based economy to a manufacturing-based entity. It spurred the country’s economic growth, eventually becoming the leading Industrial power by 1920. The Industrial Revolution transformed all aspects of the American life, whether economic or political and altered the fabric of society altogether.

The purpose of this article is three-fold. First, it outlines three significant aspects of industrial revolution between 1865 and 1920. At this point, it goes beyond the economic issues and looks into other facets such as the society and politics. The second part lists at least five groups that were affected by Industrialization together with examples in each category. This part goes on to describe how each group was affected by the transformation. The final part lists five ways that industrialization influenced the life of the Average working American during this era.

After the civil war, there was an upward spiral of steel production brought about by improved technology as a result of industrialization. New technology, such as the Bessemer method was introduced in the steel production process (Parish, 2013). Another important aspect of industrialization was the decreased unemployment rates. There was a growing number of large factories that offered opportunities to the unemployed to work and gain a livelihood (Rees, 2015). Besides, poor had access to increased opportunities that in turn increased the living standards of the average American (Perman & Taylor, 2010). However, as time went by, the gap between the poor and the rich continued to widen slowly giving birth to the concept of social stratification. The economy began to shift and was molded primarily by external factors and cynic intentions. Finally, the industrialization had political repercussions. The political implications of industrialization were the rise of the United States as a world economic supremacy.

Various groups were affected by Industrialization. They include:

  1. Working people/ labor

The labor force was exposed to low pay and forced to work under poor and unsafe conditions (Parish, 2013). This brought about the formation of labor unions and laws to forbid poor working conditions.

  • Children

Children were forced to work, provide cheap labor thereby missing on education, subjected to unsafe working conditions and mistreatment.

  • Immigrants

Were exposed to poor living and working conditions as they primarily offered cheap labor

  • Women

There was an increase in female labor, which was forced to work under stringent conditions.

  • African Americans

This group was heavily exploited and was used mainly to provide slave labor.

During the Industrialization period, the life of the average American was altered in many ways.

  1. There was a significant increase in the number of cities, expelling people from the rural areas to the newly formed Centers (Rees, 2015).
  2. Most people were displaced from their land to give way to industrial and agricultural expansion.
  3. Industrialization led to improved transportation and opened up communication between the urban centers and rural areas.
  4. Industrialization leads to increased job opportunities that helped improve the standards of living.
  5. Finally, Industrialization altered the economic and financial structure of the Average Americans (Perman & Taylor, 2010). Many middle class would borrow with the aim of increasing their wealth and financial investments.

In conclusion, it can be seen that the industrial revolution changed every aspect of the society. Cultural practices were eroded, social statuses were born, and the United States became a global Superpower. However, the process was marred with adverse effects such as the abuse of labor and the increased use of child labor. The cycle continues in third world countries where people are paid peanuts to sew clothes for large stores such as Wal-Mart.


Parish, P. J. (2013). Reader’s guide to American history. Routledge.

Perman, M., & Taylor, A. M. (2010). Major problems in the Civil War and Reconstruction: documents and essays. Nelson Education.

Rees, J. (2015). Industrialization and the transformation of American life: a brief introduction. Routledge.

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