How did the Second Industrial Revolution affect American society?

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rrteacher | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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The second phase of the Industrial Revolution saw the rise of industrial capitalism, and with it the emergence of titans of industry like John D. Rockefeller, Andrew Carnegie and the financiers, like J.P. Morgan, who backed them. Their successes were evidence of one change accompanying industrial growth, the growing accumulation of capital in the hands of massive corporations.

Other effects were evident, as well. The United States went from a basically rural society to a basically urban society as people flocked to cities for jobs in factories and offices. Those who did farm now did so not for their own communities, but to sell to faraway markets, literally feeding the growing cities.  Workers worked in increasingly rationalized, standardized workspaces, and saw their hours increased and their jobs (except for the slew of maintenance jobs requiring mechanical expertise) stripped of autonomy. Many workers, as is now well known, were children.

New technologies, particularly the railroads, encouraged growth and connected people and markets that had previously been isolated. Cities, or at least the more afflluent districts, were now lit by electric lights. The period also witnessed enormous social movements, particularly labor unions, almost unknown before the Civil War. They mobilized workers to contend for improved working conditions and pay, though they were fiercely resisted by management and state and federal governments, who saw them as dominated by dangerous radicals, including socialists and anarchists.

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mkoren | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

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The Second Industrial Revolution had a significant impact on the United States. As people began to expand westward, there was a great deal of growth in our country. New and improved forms of transportation, including the transcontinental railroad and our national road system, made it easier for people and products to be transported across the country. As a result, areas that had been previously been viewed as uninhabitable were now open for settlement and development. Additionally, people could now enjoy products from different regions of the country.

Industries began to move to these newly settled areas. As industries grew and expanded, large businesses formed. Many corporations developed during this time period. For workers, this often meant poor wages, long hours, and undesirable working conditions. Labor unions formed to help workers try to get better pay and working conditions. When these abuses continued, the Progressive Era developed to try to deal with these and other issues.

During this time, the cities continued to grow. With the rapid increase of the population in the cities, the city governments struggled to deal with the issues that arose. This led to the development of corrupt political machines. However, in some ways, city life offered people more things to do. There were ethnic neighborhoods where people from a given background could socialize with people similar to them. Sports and entertainment options also became available.

The Second Industrial Revolution impacted our country a great deal.


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