The Process of Industrialization

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Nolan Kruse
Father Ed
APUSH period 1
January 4, 2012
Research Paper

The Process of Industrialization
The term industrialization is defined as the process in which a society or nation transforms itself from a primarily agricultural society into one based on the manufacturing of goods and services. Industrialization is largely a product of “laissez-faire” capitalism as the market runs the economy instead of it being government-run. It served not only as a process to reach a more modern society but also as an ideal that would spur on a rising group of thinkers and inventors to put their plans into action. Industrialization has affected every nation in the world to some extent and has changed the American society into how one would know it today.

American industrialization stemmed from a greater movement in Europe. The Enlightenment of the eighteenth century changed how the majority of the population viewed science and understood the world around them. Religious-minded people converted to accept a more tangible philosophy on how the world worked. Those who were “enlightened” such as Francis Bacon sought empirical tests to decipher between what was absolute fact and what was not. These Enlightenment thinkers had to create new tools and processes to test their hypotheses. Many of these tools acquired practical uses that not only aided their inventors, but also the society as a whole.

There is no set date as to when the actual start of industrialization commenced but most has attributed it to the creation of the steam engine that dates back as far as 1689. Thomas Savery, an English military engineer and inventor, patented the first crude steam engine. The steam engine arose out of an attempt to pump water out of coal mines and was improved many times over as years progressed. Thomas Newcomen together with John Calley improved upon Savery’s design in 1712 with an engine that relied on atmospheric pressure as opposed to just the pressure of the steam. But in 1769, out of a need for a more efficient steam engine, James Watt patented an improved engine that became the dominant design for all modern steam engines and helped bring about the Industrial Revolution.

The steam engine was influential in the beginning of industrialization in many ways. It allowed factories to be established further from rivers than they could before. Steam engines served as a portable means to create energy from resources that were plentiful across the nation. Steam engines also allowed a new system of transportation to arise in steamboats.

The importance of steamboats to the early American industrial economy is only to be rivaled to that of railroads. Steamboats allowed goods and people to be transported across lakes, down rivers, and even back up rivers. Before, goods could be shipped downstream but had no available means to get back upstream. Steamboats were able to fight the current and ship goods quickly by any source of water. The steamboat era in America began in 1787 when John Fitch made the first successful trial of a forty-five foot steamboat on the Delaware River. He went on to create other steamboats and received his first patent in 1791. But Robert Fulton became known as the “father of steam navigation” after Fitch’s death. Fulton had built and operated a steamboat in France in 1801 before he turned to the steamboat market. He successfully turned the steamboat into a commercial success, making boats that could haul many goods and people and could travel at an average of five miles per hour. Steamboats were the major means of transportation only to be supplanted by railroads in the 1870s.

With the invention of steam engines, the first factories were able to sprout up across America, the first ones being textile factories. In Europe, factories were quickly growing to replace the cottage system of manufacturing. Under the cottage system (also known as the putting-out system), families would produce textile goods from their rural...
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