Access the validity of the following statement:
"Conditions in the United States were ripe for
an industrial revolution in the early 1800's."
"Reaping What You Sow":
The American Industrial Revolution
"The economy of the United States before the War of 1812 was largely shaped by geography..." says Arnold S. Rice. Under Henry Clay's American system, canals, railroads, and public education paramounted past internal improvements. (Doc B). The inventions oriented towards textile and locomotion sparked more invention and more production. Society, itself, conformed to the factory system and consolidated into industrial communities. In short, the early 1800s presented an unprecedented abundance of fuel for an industrial revolution in the United States. Prompting this rapid development of industry was the three driving powers of society, political development and policies, and economy and technology. The progression of society from yeomen farmers to industrial workers had developed largely by the 1820's.
Between 1820 and 1855, immigration increased from 2,000 annually to about 420,000. (Doc G). In 1848,German and other European refugees were able to abscond with enough money from their homeland to buy small plots of land in the Midwest, such as Cincinnati, St. Paul, St. Louis, Chicago, and Milwaukee, after the failed German revolution. Most immigrants were less fortunate, however. Many Irish took flight to America during the failure of the Irish potato crops between 1845 and 1850. These immigrants had little money and the South had little need for additional workers; they had slaves. They were forced to take manual jobs in the North, mainly in cities like Boston. This influx held the same pattern in the United States. One family wrote: "...the cause of our moving here...is the hard times to get a living off the farm..." (Doc C). Many families attempted to supplement their meager small farm incomes by sending women and children to the factories to work. This large influx in populations of immigrants and domestic workers increased productions and created a increasing trend towards a greater number of factories; From 1800 to 1860 the number of spindles in operation in the US increased from 2,000 to 5 million. Industry achieved a revolutionary point not only through redistribution of domestic and immigrant populations, but also through the South's extensive use of slavery. Slavery in America came to a dramatic low in the late 1700's, but with the introduction of new technologies, ie. the cotton gin, and the Louisiana Purchase, which provided new fertile land along the Gulf of Mexico, the slave population increased from about 900 thousand in 1800 to numbers exceeding 4 million in 1860. Although the industrialists were slightly set back by unions and organized union movements, such as the National Trades Union and "Commonwealth vs. Hunt" (where Massachusetts Supreme Court established the right of workers to strike), the outcome was clearly in favor of industrial growth. In the 1820's, working groups demanded uniform 6 am to 6 pm work shifts, with an amount of two hours for meal breaks, and increased wages; these demands only succeeded in New York. Other employers took court action, forcing the striking workers back to the factories, or hired non-union workers. With this in mind, the social atmosphere of the early 1800's in America was prime real estate for an industrial revolution. Similarly, the political development and processes of the US at that time assisted in the industrial expansion of America's markets and businesses.
The United State's government advocated Henry Clay's American system in generate protective tariffs, creating stimulating legal arrangements, reinforcing economic energy, allowing for a stable centralized revenue center, and educating the public. (Doc B). British Parliament, still bitter over the loss of American colonies, recommended, "to stifle in the cradle, those rising manufacturers in the United States, which war has forced into existence, contrary to the natural course of things." They attempted to execute this plan by flooding American soil with inexpensive British manufactured goods. New England textile mills, Pennsylvania iron-smelters, hemp-growers of Kentucky, the wool-growers of Ohio and Vermont, and "an assortment [not the majority, however] of Southerners and Westerners who hoped to promote industry or to expand their domestic market " knew that the British industry would crush the fragile industries is action were not put in place. (Doc D). President Thomas Jefferson, unwittingly, began what modern historians define as the beginning of the American Industrial Revolution. Jefferson supported and passed into law the widely unpopular Embargo Act, effectively cutting off America from the rest of the world. With little manufactured products being imported, Americans turned to the infant American industry. The War of 1812 further stimulated this growing sector of US economy, but after the Treaty of Ghent, the American industry had little protection from the already developed British industry. President John Quincy Adams, urged by Congress and Clay, signed into law the Tariff of 1828, later know as the Tariff of Abominations. In response to this, John C. Calhoun, Adams's Vice-President, secretly wrote the "South Carolina Exposition and Protest" calling for the nullification of this tariff, but it was met with little enthusiasm, and set the state for the "Nullification Crisis of 1832". During this crisis, South Carolina blamed the drop of cotton prices on the protective tariff, instead of recognizing that many workers and planters had left the exhausted Atlantic Coast farmland for the rich soils of Alabama and Mississippi. In the heated debate between Daniel Webster and Robert Hayne in 1830, Hayne purposed the compact theory of government, where states could nullify presumably unconstitutional laws, as seen with the Virginia and Kentucky Resolutions of Madison and Jefferson. Webster rebutted with his famous response, ending with: "Liberty and Union, now and forever, one and insuperable." Jackson, bent on keeping the union together, implemented forceful tactics, along with Clay's superb negotiation skills, to keep South Carolina from succeeding. Jackson had signed into law the Tariff of 1832, reducing duties slightly below that of the Tariff of 1828. This is not what South Carolina had hoped for, however. They wanted a free market, so again presented their appeal. The state convention convened in November 1832, declaring the tariffs of 1828 and 1832 " unconstitutional, null and void " and provisions for raising and arming troops. President Jackson, a knows loose cannon, became enraged and declared " disunion by armed force [secession] is treason." He then stationed warships in Charleston harbor, a major slave trade port and a center of commerce in the South, transferred additional artillery to Fort Moultrie, and readied troops. In addition to this, he asked Congress to grant him use of military and force to keep federal laws. Clay was able to reach a compromise with Calhoun; the Compromise of 1833 provided for a "gradual reduction of tariff rates over ten years, until they reached twenty percent ad valorem", the value of an item. In this way, the unity of the country was maintained for several more decades and American industry was protected. The Federal Government's role in domestic economics was further defined in the early, mid1800's. In 1824, Chief Justice John Marshall overturned a New York state law in Gibbons vs. Ogden (1824). This state law provided "Robert Fulton and Robert Livingston a monopoly on the New York-New Jersey steam boat trade." Marshall also established federal powers over the economy and simultaneously limiting the ability of the states to direct economic activity within their borders, as seen in Dartmouth College vs. Woodward (1819). (Doc H). In Charles River Bridge vs. Warren Bridge 1837 Roger B. Taney rules in favor of giving charters to anyone wanting to start a business. These series of rulings provided similar protection as the tariffs had: they allowed for the developing businesses to succeed, giving way to the massive growth of industry seen in the early 1800's. The federal patent office was also able to promote industry in a very similar way to the court rulings above: "Congress shall have the power to promote the progress of scientific and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries." (Doc A). In saying this in the Constitution, the founding fathers promoted inventions, while keeping "limited time" in mind; so that, a invention may be generalized for the publics benefit after a number of years. Not only through protectionism was the American economy promoted, but also through public works projects. "State governments provided three-quarters of the total funds put into the canals" and approximately "half the funds in the rail" network. Small projects were often subsidized by local communities and counties, where "raising taxation or the sale of public securities" funded large projects, such as the Eire Canal. After the funds were raised, the project was contracted out to private companies, further developing the private sector and increasing money put back into circulation. (Doc B). Serious problems developed, however, after the failure to recharter the Bank of the United States. This prompted the government's inability to pay for the war, the lack of one true national currency, and the rapid deflation. The federal government decided that it would be necessary to charter a bank much like that of Hamilton's national bank of 1791, this time with a larger capital. Even southerners, originally opposed to a national bank as a northern bias, and Madison, a long time resister of the BUS, signed the new bank bill on April 10, 1816. (Doc J). Jackson, however, led the campaign against the "Monster Bank" as he called it. His crusade was based mainly on personal conflict, for he, having to earn every thing he owned, hated the aristocracy that surrounded the private BUS, Bank of the United States, and he had lost some money in a speculation deal gone bad. He supposedly said: "The Bank...is trying to kill me, but I will kill it". Unfortunately both occurred. Jackson, on September 1833, ordered his Treasury secretary to route federal revenues from the Bank of the United States to selected state banks, "pet banks". These banks place excessive "soft money" into the system, allowing land speculators to buy up large sums of land. Jackson recognized the problem too late when he issued the Specie Circular in 1836. He ordered that government lands could only be bought with gold or silver. Panicked, the investors quickly tried to liquidated their American securities on the open market. Jackson's successor, Martin Van Buren, was dealt with a tough situation. He immediately issued 10 million dollars in emergency Treasury notes, suspended the distribution of surplus funds to the state banks, and eventually signed into law the Treasury Act of 1840, which "divorced [the government] from the banking system and subtreasuries' were created in important cities as depositories of government funds." The development of future industry depended on the "common worker", so it behoved the government to educate the masses. In the northern US Only one percent of the northern population was illiterate, it was drastically higher in the South (twenty-two percent illiteracy). The high number of educated people provided a sound employee pool, further adding to the planted roots of industry. The political aspects of the United States had lent themselves toward industrial gains, but the American Industrial Revolution was not fully realized until the complete development of the economy and technology necessary for industrial growth.
Dramatically increased demand for cotton, new inventions, and easy, inexpensive transported of products greatly stimulated industrial expansion. Southerners went from a total of 200 bails of cotton, net value 5 million dollars, in 1800 to 4 million bails, valued at an impressive 191 million dollars, in 1860. This is a twenty percent increase in production at an astounding forty percent escalation in value. What did this mean to the southern cotton plantation owner? This great demand from competing northern and British textiles intensified their income; their annual income exponentially grew forty percent from 10 thousand in 1800 to 400 thousand in 1860. Clearly cotton was king. A series of inventions prompted this great growth in cotton production and other businesses. Demand for cotton stemmed largely from advances in the textile industry. For one, homespun products became obsolete with the introduction of the factory system and factory oriented inventions. In 1733 James Kay invented the Flying Shuttle, making weaving considerably swifter. This invention still maintained use of a weaver, but he/she could work more efficiently and the cloth could be manufactured at a wider measure than before. This gave way to the invention of powered looms. James Hargreaves invented the Spinning Jenny in 1764. It was a spinning machine that greatly increased production, keeping up with the technological advances in looms. In 1771 Richard Arkwright set up a large factory next to the River Derwent in Cromford, Derbyshire to house a Water-Frame, or the automated Spinning Frame, which produced much stronger thread than seen produced by the Spinning Jenny. The invention and patent of a steam engine by James Watt in 1769 was further improved by the 1790's to the point where it was implemented, instead of water wheels, in mills. In 1804, Oliver Evans introduced a high-pressure steam engine into milling and printing. (Doc F). Thus it greatly increased production and convenience of location. Samuel Crompton then invented a combination of the Water-Frame and Spinning Jenny, the Mule, in 1775. It was able to produce various types of thread, had multiple spindles operating at once, and ran on steam power, which greatly elevated thread production. To keep up with thread productions, Edmund Cartwright invented the first steam-powered weaving machine in 1787. Cotton demand was up, yet southern cotton planters could not generate enough cotton. Eli Whitney then changed the course of the United States, if not the world; he created the cotton gin in 1793. (Doc F). Production of cotton increased from one to three pounds per worker per day to one thousand pounds. Plus, the cotton could now be groomed into longer strands, allowing cultivation of a shorter cotton plant in the Midwest, previously unprofitable. In creating the cotton gin, Eli Whitney, along with Honoré Blanc and Henry Maudslay, also stumbled on another miraculous invention: interchangeable parts. "Around 1778, Honoré Blanc began producing some of the first firearms with interchangeable parts." This allowed for the inexpensive manufacturing of mechanical part instead of the laborious and expensive hand-production of parts, as previously processed. Manufacturing of large amounts of the same product lead to the factory system, where a workers gathered under one roof, were paid by the hour, and operated complex machinery. Samuel Slater, in 1791, established the first U.S. textile mill in Pawtucket, Rhode Island, under the employment of Moses Brown. He had successfully smuggled himself out of England with the plans for his factory fresh in his memory, enabling to build said factory. (Doc F). Similar factories were built and by 1815 there was 213 of them in operation. The factory system was complemented with the introduction of the assembly line and division of labor, a process involving a series of specialized workers assembling parts of the final product as they came on a belt, of sorts; this idea was introduced with the development of the factory system in the early 1800's. Closely following, Oliver Evans successfully applied his techniques of mass production in the milling of flour. (Doc F). Up to the 1830's, machinery was bulky and prone to constant breakdown, but in 1839 Charles Goodyear discovery how to produce vulcanized rubber, which could withstand extreme heat and cold. This new rubber was applied to heavy-duty drive belts to more effectively run the machinery. Additionally, "Commercial capitalists who could not invest in the commercial enterprises during the Embargo and War of 1812" because of the seizures of nearly 15,000 American merchant ships and the British illegal impressments of about 10 thousand American sailors, "put their money into early factories in the United States." (Doc I). In the course of these inventions and development, not only did the textiles and cotton industries bloom, but also the means of cultivation was enhanced greatly. Cyrus McCormick invented the mechanical reaper in 1834, allowing farmers to harvest larger plots using less labor. In 1837, John Deere came out with the perfected steel plow allowing farmers to cut through tough soil, like that of the Midwest prairies. Such advances allowed farmers to switch from sustenance farming to growing cash crops. Similarly, with the introduction of steam power, inventors tried to improve and introduce new forms of locomotion. Physicist Denis Papin constructed a paddle-powered boat in 1707, but river-boatmen took interest in the potential threat to their trade, and destroyed it. In 1787, however, John Fitch launched the first steam-powered boat on the Delaware River. By 1807, Robert Fulton had made major improvements on his predecessors' work and had built the Clermont, the first practical steamboat in the US, which could travel from New York City to Albany in 32 hours. The steamboats soon monopolized the maritime trade business, out-performing the previous gods of the sea, America's clipper ships. In 1853, these black smoke bellowing tyrants of the sea help Perry to persuade the long closed ports of the Japan to open to American merchants, increasing our imports and exports in the orient. The Japanese were impressed with the power of the cumbering steamboat, so this along with the demanding and persuasive arguments from Perry and special trading rights with China, allowed the US to corner the oriental market. They, the steamboats that is, also allowed for quick, reliable transportation of goods to and from Europe and China. Not to be out done, the domestic transportation of goods reached unprecedented states with the help of the steam-powered locomotive, first successfully used in 1820 to "pull five cars over a short stretch of track". John Stevens claimed this accomplishment, but it was only a small step towards the massive railroad transportation system to come. Engineers made major improvements to the existing system: constructed sturdier bridges, replaced wooden rail with T-shaped cast iron rail, and made solid road beds. With these improvements, large trunk lines spread across the United States, supplementing the local areas with feeder lines. These railroads allowed western agriculture of tobacco and produce to efficiently ship their products for larger profits, allowing them to purchase better farming equipment. With the invention of Deere and McCormick's farm equipment in circulation, greater amounts of product were produced and larger profits were made, lending to the reinvestment of these profits into future technologies and equipment. The railroads provided a considerable advance in transportation, not only in time but also costs. The US government, then, attempted to further develop the nation's industry by sponsoring major improvement projects, such as the Erie Canal and the Wheeling Road. The Erie Canal reduced travel time from twenty days to eight and costs from one hundred dollars to five dollars per ton shipped from New York to Albany. The state of New York sponsored this project stretching 350 miles, from New York to Albany, in hopes of increased trade. The result is astounding: New York made its self the major commerce center of the United States and created a remarkable increase in northern west-east trading, along the Lake Erie Artery. (Doc E). Industry had developed mostly in the northern United States, but William Gregg of South Carolina hoped to break the South's dependency on Northern industry. He built a successful mill in Graniteville, South Carolina, and began the first compulsory school in the South. Other southern development included the Tredger Iron Works in Richmond, Virginia and the extensive network of navigable rivers, similar to the northern levies and canals. From the development of the Flying Shuttle to the complex workings of the Factory System, America experienced the intensification of industry first hand. The commerce of the US was constantly under a supply and demand driven market, forcing the Industrial Revolution into play. Not only was America ripe for an industrial revolution, it was our destiny.
Few events in history have changed the world as the Industrial Revolution has. For the United States, the opportune time for the drastic change in the ideas and practices was the early 1800's, where the social, political, and economic situations lent their power toward a central cause: The Industrial Revolution. The Mediterranean people created the first of written language, enabling them to form formal societies and sound governments. By 64 AD Rome conquered all of Europe, uniting thousands of nations under one flag. In the 1800's the Industrial revolution changed everything. Americans could now have leisure time, where they could bask in the highly valued written documents and publications of the time, not only for informational purposes, but also for pleasure. Americans, as well as the rest of the world, enjoyed such pieces as Herman Melville's Moby Dick or George Caleb Bingham's "Fur Traders Descending the Missouri". This evolution of an infant nation into a sophisticated world power gave way eventually to the "destiny of the US to overspread the continent, allotted by Providence for our multiplying masses" or Manifest-destiny, as defined by John Sullivan. Just as pieces to a puzzle fit, the events of history give way to a series of subsequent events, determining history and the future as we may or may not know it. This is history; this is the American Industrial Revolution; this is our destiny: take hold and run!