Industrial Revolution sample essay
Industrial revolution pertains to the period marking the introduction of mass production, radical socioeconomic changes, improved transportation, technological progress, and the industrial factory system. It is characterized by extensive mechanization of production systems which resulted to a shift from home-based hand manufacturing to large-scale factory production.
Technological changes included the use of iron and steel, new energy sources, the invention of new machines that increased production (including the steam engine and the spinning jenny, the development of the factory system, and important developments in transportation and communication (including the railroad and the telegraph). Industrialization effected changes in economic, political, and social organization.
These included a wider distribution of wealth and increased international trade; political changes resulting from the shift in economic power; sweeping social changes that included the rise of working-class movements, the development of managerial hierarchies to oversee the division of labor and the emergence of new patterns of authority; and struggles against externalities such as industrial pollution and urban crowding. Although there was a massive transformation in economy and technology which happened in so many countries all over the world, two revolutionary periods stood out.
The First Industrial Revolution began in Great Britain in the last decades of the eighteenth century. It resulted from the rapid adoption of three new technologies–the steam engine, coal and furnaces. The Second Industrial Revolution began about a century later and was centered in the United States and Germany. It resulted from a wave of innovations in the production of metals and other materials, machinery, chemicals, and foodstuffs. The First Industrial Revolution altered the direction and hastened the growth of the American economy.
The Second transformed that economy into its modern urban In terms of social structure, the Industrial Revolution witnessed the triumph of a middle class of industrialists and businessmen over a landed class of nobility & gentry. Ordinary working people found increased opportunities for employment in the new mills and factories but these were often under strict working conditions with long hours of labor dominated by a pace set by machines. Harsh working conditions were prevalent long before the industrial revolution took place as well.
Pre-industrial society was very static and often cruel-child labor, dirty living conditions and long working hours were just as prevalent before the Industrial Revolution. Source: www. wikepedia. com Labor organizations before the Civil War The first attempts to organize disgruntled workers occurred earlier in the nineteenth century (during the 1820s and the 1830s). In major cities, such as New York, Philadelphia, and Chicago, laborers joined “Workingmen’s Parties” to try and control municipal politics.
For the most part, middle- and upper-class leaders, not laborers themselves, dominated these organizations and believed that workers had the power to reform society. Such organizations brought together men who had migrated to cities from rural towns and who often had little experience dealing with the complexities of city life and factory work. The vast majority of these men was skilled laborers who still believed they were important and valued in society. They did not feel alienated either socially or economically.
Most did not view themselves as a disadvantaged class. Instead, their class-conscious would not emerge until after the Civil War. Labor organizations after the Civil War American industrialization undermined the status of skilled workers. Increased mechanization meant that owners had less and less need for highly trained artisans and craftspeople. As a result, beginning in the 1870s, skilled labor became an ever smaller part of the overall labor force. Two factors related to the changing status of labor: 1. Industrialization.
As American factories mechanized, they no longer needed to employ skilled workers who had spent years learning their particular trade. Instead, they could hire unskilled laborers who performed simple tasks and worked for lower wages. As a result, American factory work became “deskilled” after the Civil War. 2. Urbanization of the American economy. Cities, with their factories and night life, attracted rural Americans in search of employment and opportunities. Cities dramatically increased in size in the first few decades after the Civil War. Two factors related to the changing status of labor:
1. Industrialization. As American factories mechanized, they no longer needed to employ skilled workers who had spent years learning their particular trade. Instead, they could hire unskilled laborers who performed simple tasks and worked for lower wages. As a result, American factory work became “deskilled” after the Civil War. 2. Urbanization of the American economy. Cities, with their factories and night life, attracted rural Americans in search of employment and opportunities. Cities dramatically increased in size in the first few decades after the Civil War.
Two factors related to the changing status of labor: 1. Industrialization. As American factories mechanized, they no longer needed to employ skilled workers who had spent years learning their particular trade. Instead, they could hire unskilled laborers who performed simple tasks and worked for lower wages. As a result, American factory work became “deskilled” after the Civil War. 2. Urbanization of the American economy. Cities, with their factories and night life, attracted rural Americans in search of employment and opportunities.
Cities dramatically increased in size in the first few decades after the Civil War. Wages Employers believed that workers should not earn much more than a subsistence income. Why? 1. High wages hurt profits. Corporate capitalists believed that they needed profits to open more factories and to hire more workers. 2. Moral reasons. Owners believed that a subsistence wage prevented working people from wasting their money on alcohol, gambling, and prostitutes. As a result, the bulk of the urban American population in 1890 was living below the subsistence-level of income.
The average annual income for a family of four in 1890 was $380. That same year, however, the Census Bureau estimated that a subsistence income was $530. Samuel Gompers (1850-1924) English-born labor leader, whose Jewish parents came from the working class of Holland, was brought as a boy to New York, where at thirteen he joined the Cigar makers’ Union. He later became its president (1874-81), and took the lead in organizing the American Federation of Labor (1886), of which group he remained president (except in 1895) until his death.
Source: The Oxford Companion to American History. Oxford University Press, 1966 Knights of Labor The Knights of Labor was founded in 1869 as a secret order at a tailors’ meeting called in Philadelphia by Uriah S. Stephens (1821-1882). By far the most important of the early labor groups, in 1879 under the leadership Terence V. Powderly it was organized as an industrial (vertical) union on a national basis under central control, with membership open to all workers. Source: The Oxford Companion to American History. Oxford University Press, 1966 Important Points:
• First significant national labor organization with local chapters in cities throughout the United States. • Memberships open to any worker except lawyers, bankers, gamblers, and liquor dealers. Even management could to join. • African-Americans made up around ten percent of membership. • Sought to bring about reforms in working conditions and in society at-large. • The Knights of Labor “Tried to be all things to all people… ” Perhaps this was the cause of its decline. It was too inclusive and its goals were too broad for the organization’s resources. American Federation of Labor (AFL)
In 1886, this was founded by Samuel Gompers as a national organization of trade unions. By promoting independent and autonomous trade groups (a reorganization of the Federation of Organized Trade and Labor Unions of the United States and Canada formed in 1881) it sought to compete with the centrally controlled unionism of the Knights of labor. In its efforts to improve the economic status of wage earners the A. F. of L. used strikes and boycotts to force collective bargaining. Source: The Oxford Companion to American History, Oxford University Press, 1966 Important Points:
• The AFL remained the largest union in the country until 1955 when it merged with the CIO • It became the “mainstream” voice of labor during much of this period. (In contrast to the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) this was more radical and tried to organize unskilled laborers. ) The AFL stressed workplace issues: better wages, shorter work days and weeks, worker safety. It was less concerned with reforming society. • It did not permit unskilled laborers to join. This was a union of skilled crafts workers. • Samuel Gompers was the first president of the AFL.
Labor unions were often unsympathetic to immigrants, even though immigrant labor formed the backbone of American industry in the period. Business leaders were quick to exploit the cheap, desperate labor of unskilled laborers unable to speak English; with little political or organizing power, the immigrants were easy prey for businessmen. Source: http://us. history. wisc. edu/hist102/lectures/lecture07. html Progressive Era In the United States, the Progressive Era was a period of reform which lasted from the 1890s through the 1920s, although some experts use the narrower time frame of 1900 to 1917.
The reformers advocated the Efficiency Movement. Progressives assumed that anything old was encrusted with inefficient and useless practices. A scientific study of the problem would enable experts to discover the “one best solution. ” Progressives strongly opposed waste and corruption, and tended to assume that opponents were motivated by ignorance or corruption. They sought change in all policies at all levels of society, economy and government. Initially the movement was successful at local level, and then it progressed to state and gradually national.
The reformers (and their opponents) were predominantly members of the middle class. Most were well educated, white, Protestants who lived in the cities. Catholics, Jews and African Americans had their own versions of the Progressive Movement. Women came to the fore in the Progressive era and proved their value as social workers. The Progressives pushed for social justice, general equality and public safety, but there were contradictions within the movement, especially regarding race. The Catholics had their own version of the movement which they applied to their schools, colleges, and hospitals.
Almost all major politicians declared their adherence to some progressive measures. In politics the most prominent national figures were Republicans Theodore Roosevelt and Robert Lafollette and Democrats William Jennings Bryan and Woodrow Wilson. Important reforms that were achieved at the national levels included Prohibition with the 18th Amendment and women’s suffrage through to the Nineteenth Amendment to the U. S. Constitution, both in 1920 as well as the Income Tax with the Sixteenth Amendment and direct election of Senators with the Seventeenth Amendment..
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