As we progress in history, we must look at where we have come from. Following the voyages of Columbus, we saw that there was this tremendous era of exploration from Europe to the North American continent. As more Europeans arrived they displaced the native people and forced them to relocate to the west. The evolution of societies, communities and a unified culture developed at a rapid pace on the East coast until explorers became the natives. Once that happened, they attained their own identity and established their own form of government.
Once the government stabilized, the population exploded from with and from immigration. With the expanding communities and populations the need to improve the quality of life increased. This leads us to the Industrial Revolution
What is a Revolution? A Revolution is a fundamental change in political power that takes place over a relatively short period of time. Revolutions have occurred throughout human history for many different reasons. Their results include major changes in culture, economy and sociopolitical institutions. So how is the Industrial Revolution different? Whereas the American Revolution was about political power and change, the Industrial Revolution was about technological change The term Industrial Revolution refers to the change from the hand and home production to machine and factory. The Industrial Revolution was important for the many new inventions including spinning and weaving machines operated by water power which was eventually replaced by steam. This helped increase America’s growth which changed American society and economy into a modern industrial state.
How Did the Industrial Revolution Begin? The Industrial Revolution, which took place from the 18th to 19th centuries, was a period during which predominantly agrarian, rural societies in Europe and America became industrial and urban. Prior to the Industrial Revolution, which began in Britain in the late 1700s, manufacturing was often done in people’s homes, using hand tools or basic machines. Industrialization marked a shift to powered, special-purpose machinery, factories and mass production. The iron and textile industries, along with the development of the steam engine, played central roles in the Industrial Revolution, which also saw improved systems of transportation, communication and banking. While industrialization brought about an increased volume and variety of manufactured goods and an improved standard of living for some, it brought about a wider gap between social classes.
How Did the Industrial Revolution Begin? The assembly line was a major symbol of the Industrial Revolution as it signifies individuals running machines to speed up the process of building something. Other major innovations that occurred were making water power more efficient, taking steam power to a new level, and developing all kinds of new tools using machines. Coal became the fuel of choice instead of wood, and machines were powered by the coal. As new innovations developed the Industrial Revolution sparked advancements in many aspects of society. Better transportation methods were created and better standards of living were achieved. Most historians agree that the Industrial Revolution in America was the most important advancement in human history since people domesticated animals.
The American Industrial Revolution The cause of the Industrial Revolution for America started with the passage of the Embargo Act of 1807 and then the War of 1812. The ongoing conflict with England made it apparent that America needed to be independent of the British. America needed to be more self sustaining. They needed to improve their own manufacturing abilities and improve their transportation system. Industrialization in America therefore, experienced three important developments. First, transportation was expanded.
Second, the use of electricity was greatly improved. Third, improvements were made to industrialization process.
The Factory System Rises In America, the Industrial Revolution began in 1793, when the Englishman Samuel Slater built the first spinning mill in Pawtucket, Rhode Island. The year before, he had sailed to the United States, under a false name because it was illegal for British textile workers to leave the country. Britain did not want another nation to copy its machines for making thread and cloth. But Slater brought the secrets to America.
At first, Slater hired a small group of children and paid them a low wage. Later, he built a larger mill and employed whole families. As Slater influenced others to start mills, his family system of employment spread through Rhode Island, Connecticut, and southern Massachusetts.
The Factory System Rises New England was a good place to build factories. The mills needed water power, and New England had many fastmoving rivers. For transportation, it had ships and access to the ocean. The region also had a ready labor force of farmers who were tired of scraping together a living from stony fields. The factory system brought many workers and machines together under one roof.
People left their family farms and crowded into cities to take jobs in factories. They worked for wages on a set schedule. Their way of life changed and not always for the better
Interchangeable Parts New manufacturing methods changed work in other industries as well. In 1797, the U.S. government hired the inventor Eli Whitney to make 10,000 muskets for the army. Before this time, guns were made one at a time by a gunsmith. Each gun differed slightly. If a part broke, a new part had to be created to match the broken one.
Whitney sought a better way to make guns. In 1801, he went to Washington and laid out several piles of musket parts. He took a part from each pile and quickly assembled a musket. Machines that produced identical parts soon became standard. Interchangeable parts speeded up production, made repairs easy, and allowed the use of less-skilled workers. Suddenly things that took a long time and a skilled man to make were being produced by the hundreds or even thousands
Impact on Farming - Food As industries and factories arose, people moved from farms to cities. Advances were made in agriculture to help feed the growing population. These new agricultural inventions including better machines and cultivators. In 1837, blacksmith John Deere invented a lightweight plow with a steel cutting edge. Deere’s new plow made preparing ground to plant crops much less work. As a result, more farmers began to move to the Midwest.
The threshing machine mechanically separated kernels of wheat from husks. In 1831, Cyrus McCormick developed a mechanical reaper that cut ripe grain quickly and efficiently.
New technologies linked regions and contributed to a feeling of national unity.
The Cotton Gin and the Slave Industry In 1794, Eli Whitney invented the cotton gin which made the separation of cotton seeds from fiber much faster. The South increased its cotton supply sending raw cotton north to be used in the manufacture of cloth. Francis C. Lowell increased the efficiency in the manufacture of cloth by bringing spinning and weaving processes together into one factory. This led to the development of the textile industry throughout New England. In 1846, Elias Howe created the sewing machine which revolutionized the manufacture of clothing. All of a sudden, clothing began to be made in factories as opposed to at home. The Cotton Gin invention also had the by-product of increasing the number of slaves needed to pick the cotton thereby strengthening the arguments for continuing slavery. Cotton as a cash crop became so important that it was known as King Cotton and affected politics up until the Civil War.
Transportation New inventions improved transportation, communication, and production. They also quickened the pace of life. Robert Fulton developed a steamboat that could move against the current or a strong wind. Some cities, however, were not on rivers that could be navigated by steamship. Traders in these cities needed a way to ship goods. Steampowered trains were the answer. 1830, Peter Cooper built America’s first successful steam-powered locomotive, called the Tom Thumb. The Cumberland Road, the first national road, was begun in 1811. This eventually became part of the Interstate 40 The creation of the Erie Canal created a route from the Atlantic Ocean to the Great Lakes thereby helping stimulate the economy of New York and making New York City a great trading center.
Communication With the increased size of the United States, better communication networks became extremely important and necessary. Around 1837, Samuel F. B. Morse first demonstrated his telegraph. This machine sent long and short pulses of electricity along a wire. These pulses could be translated into letters spelling out messages.
With the telegraph, it took only seconds to communicate with someone in another city. In 1844, the first long-distance telegraph line carried news from Baltimore to Washington, D.C., about who had been nominated for president. Telegraph lines spanned the country by 1861, bringing people closer as a nation.