The Impact of the Industrial Revolution in America

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There is no question that the Industrial Revolution had an enormous impact on American society between 1870 and 1940, but the question is what kind of an impact did it have during this period. The overall effect of the Industrial Revolution turned out to be a positive push towards modernization in America. As Stephen Gardiner, a British architect and writer during the 20th century, said, “The Industrial Revolution was another one of those extraordinary jumps forward in the story of civilization.” While Gardiner hit the nail on the head with his quote, the part of the story that most people tend to forget is just how quickly we Americans, made that extraordinary jump forward. There were Americans, who, at one point in their life were riding horses as a means of transportation and then at another point were driving automobiles. However, was this a good thing? Did America quite possibly rush the industrialization process? In order to better answer these questions, we must take a step back and examine the most important changes economically, socially, and environmentally in America between 1870 – 1940.

After the Civil War was all said and done, and the Union had once again taken control of the Southern states, the question on everyone’s mind was, “what’s next?” Well, first, before anything could really change, President Abraham Lincoln was shot and killed on April 15, 1865, just six days after the war was over. Lincoln, who was loved in the North, had a strong will and sense of urgency. He had already taken many steps necessary for reconstruction during the war, such as: the Amnesty Proclamation which granted a pardon to all Southerners who weren’t an officer and didn’t mistreat any Northern prisoners, the Emancipation Proclamation granted African-American’s in the South their freedom, and the National Bank Act, which enabled the U.S. Government to use the debt owed to them for the government bonds they issued to the banks. Today, these proclamations...
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