The Industrial Revolution was a time for economic, and technological growth and development. Although this period had both negative and positive effects on society, economy and politics, it played an essential role in shaping the way that the world is today. The growth of entrepreneurship and the introduction of inventions such as incandescent light bulb, made way for a time of tremendous growth in the United States. The rise of entrepreneurship also made acts such as child labor and the mistreatment of immigrants an acceptable practice. These practices although negative, also played a part in shaping of the nation. Entrepreneurship, Technology and Immigration are three aspects that played a major role in the industrial revolution. Entrepreneurship was important to this time period due to the massive growth and expansion in the central industries. The central industries include railroads, steel and petroleum; the growth of these industries made is easier to access the rest of the nation. The federal government helped with the expansion of the railroad network by supporting the expansion of railroad development between 1860 and 1915. During this time the railroad network development expanded from merely 30,000 miles of track to over 250,000 miles. Entrepreneur Leland Stanford was one of the businessmen that made the expansion of the railroad system possible. He along with his business partners Collis Huntington, Charles Crocker and Mark Hopkins helped to make it possible to access the west by way of the California railroad system. Without the contribution of entrepreneurship, it would have been impossible for the major industries to take off and help build the foundation of American life and society. Technology is another key factor of the industrialization of America. Technology is defined as a collection of tools that make it easier to use, create, manage and exchange information. The collection and exchange of information is pivotal to the growth of a nation and developments such as the telephone vastly sped up the process of exchanging information. The telephone was invented by Alexander Graham Bell in 1876. It changed the pace at which information could be exchanged and processed thus totally changing the business world at the time. The telephone allowed for real time transfer of information, eliminating the delay of information which often made a huge difference in how one conducted business. By 1900 there were approximately 600,000 phones in the telephone system and only five years later that number exploded to a massive 2.2 million. Immigration is another key element of what made the industrial period important. During this time many different people came to the U.S., changing the face of work the force for many industries such as the railroad in the west. Between 1880 and 1920, around 25 million immigrated to the United States. This number was in addition to the other immigrants who came even earlier and included Greeks, Italians, Czechs, Ukrainians, Chinese and Serbians and many others. Many of these immigrants were laborers and worked in industries such as factories and railroads. Most immigrants moved to the larger cities and began to work in industry, this created a bigger demand for products which created more jobs and inspired more immigrants to make the journey to America. Industrialization affected people from all walks of life. African Americans, immigrants, American Indians, women, and children were all affected in multiple ways during this period of time. After years of enslavement, African Americans were enjoying their new freedom and were taking steps in order to improve their living conditions. A large number of freed slaves immediately moved north, going to places such as Chicago, Detroit, Harlem and St. Louis. Unfortunately being freed did not mean being treated fairly. They were often denied positions did were not manual labor based because of the belief that labor was all they were suited for. The ability to find housing was also a struggle for those who migrated to the north. They were forced to live in close quarters that usually consisted of a few small blocks of town that the white members of town did not want to occupy. Chasing the promise of a better life, many people left from their homeland to come to the United States. One example of immigration comes from the Chinese who went to the west in search of gold. Immigrants were often forced into working in industries that they not intend on working. This was the case for the Chinese. They originally came to the U.S. in order to chase the gold rush in the west but were forced into working on the railroads when legislation passed a tax on foreign miners. Congress responded to the “threat” of the Chinese people by passing the Chinese Exclusion Act. This act banned the Chinese laborers for immigrating for 10 years and prohibited those already here from becoming citizens. Other groups such as the Italians came and also struggled but had some form of success by owning businesses and property. Those who had newly immigrated to the north also had a hard time. They were often referred to as “greenhorns” because of their awkward and uncivilized ways and tight labor market proved to be difficult to traverse because of limited education, knowledge on English and relevant work skills. The American Indians are another group affected by industrialization. They were both murdered and removed from their home lands by men seeking to use it for personal gain. The American Indians were thought of as outsiders and were persecuted by the white Americans. As white Americans began to move westward they began to clash with the native people. At one point the violence between the white settlers and the Indians caused General William Sherman to call the destruction of the Sioux Indian tribe. In 1869 President Grant enacted a peace policy between the two people but unfortunately many people ignored this call for peace and continued to attempt to steal the land promised to the Indian people. One of the last attempts at resistance occurred when the Plain Indians came together for the ritualistic Ghost Dance. This dance lasted for five days and was believed to have the power to help the Indians crush their enemies between the grounds if done correctly. When the Indian numbers began to grow too vast the government reacted by sending a group of soldier to contain the situation. The incident that followed became known as the Wounded Knee Massacre, in which 39 U.S. soldiers and 146 Sioux Indians lay dead. The average American’s life in many different ways. Many occupations average work day was both back breaking and soul crushing. Many people, especially in larger cities, lived in poor conditions because of proximity to work and a lack of funds. They lived in close quarters with thin walls and a lack of proper plumbing which often dumped into water source causing an outbreak of typhoid epidemics during the early 1900s. In the south urbanization was slowed down due to its dependence on slavery. They began to catch up years later but they never grew to the extent that the north did due to the fact that black southerners were banned from industrial employment. The introduction of technology also changed the life of the average American. The incandescent light bulb for example, created by Thomas Edison, had a lasting effect on the American way of life by being able to create light for an extended duration of time. This development soon became cheap enough for businesses and middle class home owners to afford to purchase. For businesses, having the ability to harness light after dark allowed them to extend business hours thus allowing them to earn more money. The industrial revolution and the advancements made during that time helped to shape the way we do business, communicate with and interact with one another. This time of transition was very difficult for all those involved, presidents, former slaves, immigrants and the everyday citizen but along the way lessons have been learned that has made the U.S. the great place that it is today.
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