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America Prior to the Civil War - Essay Example

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How did the process of industrialization alter the economic character of nineteenth-century America prior to the Civil War? How were specific regions of the country affected, either directly or indirectly, by the machine age, its influence on the American economy, and the goods it put within the reach of consumers The process of industrialization has altered the economic characteristics of America in the nineteenth century in several ways…
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America Prior to the Civil War
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Download file to see previous pages The most important changes at the time of industrialization were the development of machines that replaced hand tools, the use of steam and power that substituted for the use of muscles of man animals, and the adoption of factory system. The Industrial revolution started in Great Britain in the mid-18th century. America was behind because its population was more occupied in farming and trading. It was too slow to adopt machineries because, as a new nation, America had little capital for investment. Labor was scarce since men were pushing westward and were engaged in clearing forests, and establishing themselves on the land (“Economic growth and early industrial revolution”). Industrialization in the United States started in 1790 and is credited to Samuel Slatter who copied the mill technology from the British model. Slatter came to the United States in 1789 and was hired to build a mill. English laws do not allow export of machineries or plans on making it. So Slatter designed the mill from his memory and built it in 1790. When British products became difficult to obtain because of war, American investors thought of building more factories and machineries; thus, historians aptly called these changes as the first industrial revolution (“Economic growth and early industrial revolution”). Soon enough, New England developed the important textile industry. The inventions of the spinning and weaving machines operated on water made production more feasible. Other inventions were introduced. In Pennsylvania, smelting in stone furnaces produced iron for machines, tools, and guns. Charcoal was discovered in forested land. Steam driven spinning machines operated in New York by 1810. And by 1814, the first practical power loom was installed in Massachusetts. A factory system of production was also introduced in the shoe production in Massachusetts in the early 19th century (“Economic growth and early industrial revolution”). The use of machines paved the way for an organizational strategy that implemented a factory system to increase productivity. The factory structure replaced the output work system wherein small parts of a larger production process were carried out in individual homes. In the factory system, work was done in a centralized location. The new system promoted efficiency in production. All these developments caused New England to be the first area in the United States to be industrialized. Invention in cotton production altered the shape of agricultural production. Prior to industrialization, historians cited farmers playing the pivotal role in the economy. Up to 1850, farmers accounted for 85% of the population (Scott). Tobacco cultivation, once profitable, gave way to cotton production. Cotton has diminished production of cattle, indigo and pine trees in the south. The price of labor increased because of the demand for slaves to work for cotton production. The cheap and easy way of cotton production made it easier for the masses to wear cotton dresses. Facts submitted by Dr. Carolle Scott (1997), a history professor, showed that British demand for cotton and the Midwestern settlement started the regional specialization and trade that now account for the economic term of comparative advantage. The development of machines is an era ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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