The end of the nineteenth century brought about a huge change in the way the United States worked as a nation, making the United States the worlds most productive nation. The nation as a whole was advancing rapidly and new inventions were bringing about new ways of life. There was a rise in big businesses and financial corporations which were looking to expand as much as possible.
Technology was advancing rapidly and new inventions were being used to further our expansion. Thomas Edison, after inventing the phonograph, through long work was able to invent a light bulb that would last for a long time thus changing the world so that now large buildings and Wall Street could now be lighted up with electric. J. P. Morgan was one of the earliest to use this invention buy lighting up his house and bank with the new technology. By 1888 Edison formed the Edison General Electric Company.
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Another breakthrough invention was the electric streetcars. Replacing the slow moving horse-drawn wagons, the streetcars were quickly moving citizens to destinations and ran off of electric wires that hung above. By 1900 there were about 15,000 miles of electric streetcar lines in American cities. The electric streetcars were helping the working man, who had to travel long distances, to better getting to work on time. It was connecting cities and bringing in new residents looking for homes.
The invention of motion pictures was helped by the invention of the electric light and photography. This new form of entertainment astonished people as they were able to watch a story be told on a screen in front of them although it was silent. Another form of entertainment that caught a lot of attention was baseball. Although played in the 1840’s it wasn’t until the civil war when it began to pick up more interest. Teams of soldiers spread the interest of the game which lead to the formation of more teams. In 1869 the first team to pay was formed and soon after the National League of Professional Baseball Clubs was formed.
By the end of the nineteenth century railroads covered half of the United States, transporting goods and materials wherever needed, helping with further production and bigger businesses ready to industrialize. Steel was a major business for this and Andrew Carnegie saw this and helped produce the worlds steel. Steel was needed for just about all new structures and especially the rail roads.
Businesses flourished and men became rich. With the times changing with new inventions and people looking for work, businesses were able to expand and rise to the top of their industry. Carnegie bought up all the iron mines and took on coal as a partner for his industry to lead in the steel industry. He was able to produce steel so cheaply and lower his prices that any other steel company was forced into letting him buy them out, thus monopolizing the industry. This was called vertical integration.
Another form of making a monopoly was horizontal integration. This was done by controlling not all the stages in the business, but the business itself. The railroads would expand and make money only because all the other companies were doing the same thing as them, moving freight and passengers from place to place.
Laissez-faire and Social Darwinism and impacts in industrialization that would change the way people paid their employees and they was people would work as a social community. The main idea of Laissez-faire was that in order to get the greatest and cheapest productivity possible, you must leave the individual employer and the worker to the free market. By this they meant that there would be no interaction with the government or unions for that would decrease the productivity. By following the concept of Laissez-faire, the factory owners would not pay their workers enough to even cover their basic needs.
Social Darwinism, the concept of survival of the fittest and not letting anything interfere with man, followed the concept of Laissez-faire very closely. It supported that an individual should be free to manage their own property and their own contracts that they chose without any government interference. Any interference on behalf of that or between labor and management would violate the employer’s property rights and the right of employer and self contract.
In giant corporations all the concepts of Social Darwinism and Laissez-faire were nonsense. There was no equality in the bargaining of positions whether it was for a coal miner or of Baer’s coal company over terms of employment. There were no free individual contracts for the employee and the only contract they had was to do that of the employer or face hunger.
In this industrial age the workers were thriving to find a job. The typical American though couldn’t compete with the low wages that immigrants were willing to work for and this forced many Americans onto the streets only to leave their job for a new immigrant to the country. For the people that were willing to work for the low wages and the intense hours, there were jobs willing to pay the men, women, and children that would stand the smoke filled rooms, or digging in the coal mines for the long hour days of no rest. Many workers died or got ill from diseases. Tuberculosis was a product of crowding, overwork, and poor nutrition of thousands that worked.
The Supreme Court held a big role in industrialization, creating new laws and denying businesses of unconstitutional acts. Court cases were held for labor laws and financial issues that individuals and companies faced. In 1973 the Supreme Court ruled that a monopoly was invalid. With the monopolies the company could charge substantial rates to their customers. This would affect the well being of the public and it was up to the legislature to protect the public interest. States were taking the power of their government to regulate business. The Supreme Court ruled that this was unconstitutional that a state use a power only granted to Congress. The court would also prevent the state from acting in matters such as child labor.
The Supreme Court passed the Interstate Commerce Act after railroads were charging higher rates to others for the transportation of the same goods. The Act stated that the same rate must be applied equally through shipping of goods and that all rates should be reasonable. There would be an investigation of each rail-road to find if the rates were in fact of reasonable price.
Labor was affected due to industrialization. Labor Union had tried to form for many years after the Civil War. Once a successful union was formed they turned to getting an eight-hour day. In 1872 the group supported the labor party, but with the panic of 1873 the union collapsed, along with many other unions. Violence broke out between workers and employers. Workers wanted less hours and better rates. Many formed strikes until something was done. The Homestead Steel Strike was one of the most successful strikes formed. The workers new that everyone would follow and that without them the steel factory could not continue. They were confident before hand on what would happen in response to their strike.
As a response to the Industrial Age, the United States changed and adapted in many ways. Unions were formed, inventions were used to progress, businesses flourished and workers achieved some of what they wanted. The States were advancing and leading the world as the most productive nation, making the Industrial Age one of the biggest impacts in American history.
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