Sample History Paper on America and the Industrial Revolution

America and the Industrial Revolution

One of the earliest significant moments in the Industrial Revolution was witnessed towards the end of the 18th century. During this period, Samuel Slater imported new manufacturing technologies from England, and established a new cotton factory in Beverly, Massachusetts (Keene, Cornell, & O’Donnel, 2011). The mill Slater founded was powered by water just like other factories and mills that came up in the next few decades. This meant that industrial development only occurred in the Northeast at first, and this enabled the development of transport infrastructure such as canals and railroads, which further expanded trade and commerce (Keene, Cornell, & O’Donnel, 2011).

One of the factors that contributed to the success of the cotton industry during the industrial revolution was the transcontinental railroad that was completed in 1869. This railroad made it easier to transport labor, products and raw materials. A second factor that led to the success of the cotton industry was the vast labor available at the time. For instance, from 1860 to 1900, 14 million people migrated to the U.S, and offered labor in various industries. Moreover, American industrialists like Samuel Slater were willing to take risks in order to expand their businesses (Keene, Cornell, & O’Donnel, 2011).

Another notable businessperson during the industrial revolution was Andrew Carnegie who started the pioneering steel mills after borrowing from the British model called “Bessemer process” used in mass-producing steel. This made Carnegie to emerge as a baron in the steel industry (Keene, Cornell, & O’Donnel, 2011). He solidified his business empire by acquiring mines that produced the raw materials used in steel production, investing in ovens and mills that molded steel, and acquired shipping lines used to transport the final product. This made sure that Carnegie had a monopoly in every aspect of steel production (Keene, Cornell, & O’Donnel, 2011).

John D. Rockefeller was another industrialist during the revolution. He combined the operations of several large companies to create a trust. His most prominent company Rockefeller Standard Oil Trust grew to monopolize 90 percent of the oil industry, and this thwarted competition severely (Library of Congress, n.d.). The monopolies were notorious for using unorthodox techniques against small players in the oil industry in order to sustain high profits and prices. The huge economic influence that the industrialists had, earned them a significant political capital. Furthermore, the U.S government implemented polices that encouraged industrial development. Some of these policies included availing land for the construction of railways and introducing high tariffs to protect domestic industries from competition (Library of Congress, n.d.).

Hence, government support played a pivot role in the success of businesspersons and industries during the industrial revolution. The invention from great American minds like Thomas Edison and Alexander Graham Bell improved transportation, communication, and the production process in industries (Library of Congress, n.d.). Coupled with state governments support for banking institutions, the technological development caused a market revolution because of the efficient means of moving people, products and raw materials that had emerged (Library of Congress, n.d.).

An examination of some of the most notable businesspersons who dominated the industrial revolution indicate that they were not just robber barons as some scholars have suggested. The truth is that the businesspersons who dominated the revolution were shrewd entrepreneurs who took advantage of the opportunities in their surroundings and benefited from a number of factors that were in their favor. For example, the availability of labor, new technologies, and government policy played a significant role in the success of the businesspersons and their respective industries.

 

References

Keene, J. D., Cornell, S. T., & O’Donnel, E. T. (2011). Visions of America: A History of the United States, Combined Volume (2nd Edition). New York: Pearson Education.

Library of Congress. (n.d.). The Industrial Revolustion in the United States. Retrieved from http://www.loc.gov/teachers/classroommaterials/primarysourcesets/industrial-revolution/pdf/teacher_guide.pdf