Industries began to grow in the United States in the early 1800’s and this process continued during the Civil War. Prior to the Civil War, hand production was widespread and production capacity was limited. After the Civil War, the business industry began to change dramatically. Machines began replacing hand labor, therefore, increasing production capacity for companies. The development of a nationwide network of railway systems allowed goods to be transported at great distances. These circumstances led to the Industrial Revolution.
Two major reasons for rapid growth of cities in the United States in the 1880’s were urbanization and industrialization. The need for mass produced goods was high. Because business owners were developing businesses in the cities, people migrated to these areas in the record numbers. Industries grew mainly in the North because the South was still economically and socially bankrupt after the Civil War. Former slaves were trying to escape the unpleasant memories, so anywhere was better than in the South. Many slave owners were now financially bankrupt due to the emancipation of the slaves. Innovations in transportation made it easier for people to get to work. People no longer had to live within walking distance of their jobs. Trolleys, trains, and street cars made getting to work much more convenient in cities(Hoselitz, 195, p. 280).
Urban growth had both positive and negative effects on the society. The explosive population of the cities was now experiencing the conversion of picturesque, friendly towns into suburbs divided by social class and race (Linn, 1982, p. 628). More than 25 million foreigners came to the United Stated between 1866 and 1915. Many of these new comers were illiterate or did not speak English. As a result, children and women often had to work in the horrendous conditions to help their family make ends meet. Document 2 conveys the living conditions of children during this time. Many immigrants and blacks had to take low-paid jobs and live in squander. Document 6 sheds light on just how dire the living situations were. These substandard living conditions led to an outbreak of infectious diseases. The city sewage system was not designed to meet the needs of so many people. However, this influx of immigrants to city areas played a large role in shaping the education system. Public education became a primary focus. By the late 1870 more than six thousand public high schools came into life. The idea of a free education was born.
Industrial safety was an important issue. Many of the immigrant workers could not read safety regulations or operating instructions for the machinery. Document 4 paints a picture of the working conditions within a factory. If they were hurt or killed, the company was not liable. Often immigrant and black workers were looked upon with bitterness because companies used them as strike breakers. The union movement sought to create better working conditions for all workers. The Interstate Commerce Act was important to farmers. It ensured that they would be able to make a profit from their goods (Hoselitz, 1955, p. 273). Document 1 shows the lack of profits made by farmers during this time. Also, the Child Labor Law placed restrictions on the amount and type of the work children could perform.
U.S. cities grew by about 15 million people before 1900(Hoselitz, 1955, p. 280). Mass forms of transportation were utilized and skyscrapers blocked the view of starry nights. The skyscrapers were introduced because of the lack of space. With the population growing so fast, architects had to figure out ways to provide housing for them. The system of public education was born during this time. The thinkers of the day believed that education would solve many social problems. The development of unions improved working conditions for all Americans. The outbreaks of infectious diseases led to the discovery that bacteria caused diseases. Consequently, this led to safer hospitals and better sanitation practices. Although the 1800s were a trying time for America, it produced many lasting effects that Americans can’t picture life without.