The Developments of Industrialization That Positively Affected American lives or the United States in General
The fierce competition among the European countries in the 17th century, led to competition for land, since the more land a country had, the more raw materials it had for its factories (Unyimadu, 1989). Consequently, Britain colonized America for its industrial raw materials and this made the United States their chief source of raw materials. However, the lack of local industrial productions led Britain to import majority of its goods from their country. Although Industrial revolution had begun in Britain in mid 18th century, the attainment of independence in America intensified competition between the two countries. The Americans began to feel the pressure to industrialize in order to keep up with the pace of the industrial revolution. Industrial revolution would begin in America late, but later overtook the Great Britain. Many developments that took place during the industrial revolution in the United States had positive and negative impacts on American life and the United States in general.
The increased need to need to improve the transportation of the products that were being produced in America necessitated the development of an efficient and faster mode of transport. The developments during the “Transportation Revolution” in the early 19th century saw the innovations of multiple modes of transportation (Long & Shpotov, 1995). The railroads, steamboats and canals were developed to help farmers, who by 1815, were struggling to cope up with expensive costs of transportation of their goods. Towards the end of the “Transportation Revolution” in 1850, most of the farmers were making more profit since transportation costs had been cut considerably. Although the financing of the roadways would later become an issue between the federal government and the states, their development was important in ensuring faster transport of raw materials to the manufacturing units and markets.
The developments in the transport sector and the industrial innovations led to an increase in the value of goods of the American industry. Between 1870 and 1916, there were improvements in the production methods (Rosenbloom, 1998). After the American civil war, there was widespread use of machinery in manufacturing units. The use of machines created production efficiency and many could be produced than before, when hands were used. Farming became mechanized and cotton machines were used extensively. Large manufacturing farms were developed and new products became available in the markets.
The developments and use of machines in the industrial production led to creation of jobs in the factories. Large manufacturing firms employed workers to work in various categories in the factories (Rosenbloom, 1998). Every worker was assigned a specific part in the production process, creating division of labour, which sped up production. The factory workers were paid wages, and this led to improvement in the standards of living. Consequently, huge businesses sprung up in support of the large manufacturing companies. This business boom opened up financial opportunities, from which wealth was created.
In addition, the development of the manufacturing plants led to a shift in the population, which became predominantly urbanized. Majority of the business people became wealthy leading to a growth of millionaires from twenty in 1850 to 3000 in early 1900 (Rosenbloom, 1998). The emergence of wealthy individuals led to the developments of classes. The factory workers and managers, small business owners and the wealthy owners of huge enterprises lived comfortable lives compared to the predominantly rural populations. This group later became the American middle class. This period impacted positively on the lives of the American factory laborers and the American economy.
The Industrialization Developments That Negatively Affected American Lives or the United States
Although industrial revolution brought unprecedented growth in economy and improvement in the living standards, it also brought some negative impacts on the American lives. According to (Blumin, 2006), industrialization and urbanization have had a negative impact on the social stability, environment and the economy. The developments of machines and large manufacturing units in the 19th century created urbanization phenomena in the United States. As industries developed, many people moved from their rural homes to seek for employment in the cities. The influx of the rural people in search of factory jobs created an oversupply of workforce, increasing unemployment rates.
The massive immigrations from Europe to the American cities in the 19th and 20th centuries caused overcrowding due to low housing supply (Blumin, 2006). Moreover, the huge labour supply coupled with the high rural to urban influx of people within United States created an oversupply of the workforce. Although the factory workers experienced long working hours, low pay and unsafe conditions, the influx of immigrants and the rural-urban migration limited the bargaining power of the industrial workers. As a result, many workers were paid poorly and is created economic inequalities.
Moreover, the overcrowding due to immigrants and rural to urban migration, led to rapid spread of deadly diseases. According to (Rosenbloom, 1998), 1918-1919 saw many people in the American cities affected by the Spanish influenza. In addition, urbanization and industrialization of the 19th century led to environmental deterioration. Most of the industries during the 19th century industrial revolution used mainly coal powered plants. The combustion of coal released carbon dioxide, which combined with rain releasing acid rain, which was discovered in the middle of the 19th century. Moreover, the use of coal polluted working environment and factories reported deaths due to asphyxiation. By mid 19th century, Donora, Pennsylvania had lost twenty residents to asphyxiation and over thousands of residents were reportedly sick.
Analysis on Whether Industrialization Was Generally Beneficial or Detrimental To the Lives of Americans and the History of United States
Although industrial revolution caused some negative impacts, the huge positive impacts that were achieved throughput the industrial revolution were beneficial to the lives and economy of the United States (Weiss & Burns, 1977). The industrial revolution is credited for other benefits like the recognition and improvements of rights of women, who were allowed to work on factories. Moreover, it improved the living standards of the people, created business boom and thus improved the United States economic growth. The industrial revolution was so rapid in the United States that the country overtook Great Britain to become world economic superpower.
Although there were some negative impacts that were associated with the industrial revolution in the United States, perhaps if proper research was available it could have been minimized. Industrial pollution can be observed in the modern world, albeit at minimal levels compared to the industrial revolution, owing to research that has created more efficient and environment friendly machines. It is hard to blame industrial revolution based on its negative impacts without regard to its huge positive impacts that improved lives, created wealth, led to development of social amenities and mass production of products to satisfy the increased demands. Therefore, the benefits of industrial revolution outweighs its negative, hence it was beneficial for the lives of Americans and America in general.