10 December 2012
History 110 Final Essay
Many of the effective lessons people have learned over time are from mistakes we have made; these errors of the past will lead to wisdom and success in the future. Over the course of United States’ history, there have been many successes and many failures. As an advisor to you Mr. President, I want to discuss how several events have influenced our corporate structure as well as the economic, and civil impacts of these events. At the foundation of it all, the Second Industrial Revolution further advanced our new country. The Second Industrial Revolution (1871-1914) saw new inventions set a precedent of great things to come. There was the introduction of the telephone, electricity, machinery and the transcontinental railroad. These three inventions were vital in vaulting us from fourth in the world in production in 1865 at $2 billion, to first by 1900 at $13 billion. The railroads enabled commerce to be completed throughout the entire country and allowed for goods to be distributed quicker than ever before. As this new industry grew, so did the desire to find people to operate, maintain and continue to grow it. In order for these new industries to grow, production had to become innovative. Factory machinery replaced many of the individual laborers. Sure there were always things that can or should be done by hand, but it seemed necessary to implement a machine that could produce 7,000 units per hours rather than 3,000 units per day by human labor. Machines allowed for quicker production of goods but also resulted in economies of scale. By producing goods at a much greater rate, businesses were now able to sell and distribute increased amounts at a lower price. In the case of Andrew Carnegie, these lower costs were reflected in the working conditions and wages of his workers. As factory work began to streamline, the need for skilled workers decreased. Many immigrants from Europe and Asia took unskilled jobs in flourishing industries such as meat packing, clothing and textiles and mining. New, faster machinery made many human skills obsolete and allowed for the transition to unskilled workers who were trained to complete one task along the manufacturing process. Innovation continued and so did the work force. The expansion offered opportunities for women, blacks, whites and some immigrants, to enter into the workforce. Immigrant women took positions where there was little technology used and white women transitioned to clerical and sales positions. “At the turn of the century, 8.6 million women worked outside of their homes—nearly triple the number in 1870” (Faragher 533). The exclusion of immigrants from work and the poor and unhealthy working conditions lead to the creation of Labor unions for fairness in the workplace. The AFL, American Federation of Labor, fought for employees to have better working conditions, higher wages and shorter working hours. This was great except for the fact that the AFL president, Samuel Gompers, wanted to eliminate women and unskilled immigrants from the workforce. Although the AFL did not fight for equality for all workers, it was an initial step in the correct direction. The most critical parts about the Second Industrial Revolution were that innovation and invention were the key to progressing. Our nation needed to continue to advance and continue to work smarter and more efficiently, not necessarily harder. As manufacturing work became more sophisticated, the need to continue to encourage businesses to invest in the skills of their workers and have wages to back up their skills became a key bargaining topic. Allowing businesses to reinvest in their company and invest in their workers will be far more productive in the long run. Over the course of United States history many movements have come and gone. During the late 19th century, farmers and workers assembled a mass movement to challenge the bipartisan political...