How Did the Industrial Transformation After the Civil War Compare with the Earlier Phase of American Economic Development? (See Chapter 14) Why Were the Economic Developments of 1865-1900 Often Seen as a Threat to
The industrial transformation following the Civil War included many similar circumstances to the industrial boom between 1815 and 1900. In that time period, Eli Whitney’s cotton gin and the McCormick Reaper incited a new and more efficient way of living. The revolutionary changes made to the entire society allowed the country to modernize every aspect of life. Changes were seen as beneficial because of the lack of mass corruption to the integrity of the political and economic areas of America.
Unlike the boom during this era, the time period following the Civil War caused an outburst in the railroad circuit throughout the nation that was easily susceptible to the radical graft presiding in the country at the time. By 1884, over four transcontinental railroads were built. With all but the Great Northern receiving land grants, the ease with which to lay the rails grew and grew. The significance of this peace time undertaking was the connection it made throughout the country. The West was now connected with the East, facilitating trade with Asian countries and exposure of Eastern manufacturing goods in the Far East.
Paving the way to rapidly grow in the West drew many comparisons to the landmark achievements of America’s past. Rapid growth was in large part due to the increasing bond of the older eastern networks into one. The welding together of such wealth allowed for new inventions to be implemented in the railroad project, thereby increasing the long term effectiveness of the railroad system. The first was the steel rail, which replaced the iron tracks. This eliminated the expense and inconvenience of numerous changes from one line to another. Air brakes were also invented to make the trips safer and easier.
With the entire country expanding, the physical unification of the nation created a stronger and more solid foundation for the economy in America. The corruption soon got to the heads of those in charge. American people would not allow so few control the masses in the country. American ingenuity would discover the vast natural resources of America, but their exploitation would reveal how radically different the new technologies were from the past. Wealth was now growing into a powerful position that was bordering on the illegal. Trusts by tycoons like J. P. Morgan and Andrew
Carnegie monopolized the steel and railroad markets. Arousing negative sentiments in the government, which caused many reforms and transitions that changed the tide of controlling the behavior of the private sector. Although the graft and corruption tainted the nature of the beast, the standard of living dramatically increased during this phase of the Industrial Revolution. Women were profoundly propelled into the ranks of social and economic opportunities. The creation of unions and labor organizations were created in direct response to the corruption of management.
They had to endure the hardships of graft, but the overwhelming transformations made to the law were just as revolutionary as the inventions. The Industrial Revolution changed the nation in many ways, some positive and others negative. Corruption and graft convoluted and distorted the revolutionary changes, but the drastic leaps made in anti-trust legislation and improvements to labor laws made this revolution different from previous revolutions due to the improvements made on both the social and economic fronts in America.