Describe the impact of the Industrial Revolution on the US.

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jerseygyrl1983 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

This is a very broad question, so it would be best to focus on the two most important developments.

The first is the development of the steam engine. Steam technology had been around for centuries but became advanced enough by the late eighteenth century to power locomotives. The invention of the locomotive was key to the creation of the Union Pacific Railroad and, thus, the nation's westward movement.

The second major invention was that of the cotton gin by Eli Whitney, which he patented in 1794. This invention was specifically American and instituted for the development of the Southern cotton industry and slave system. The cotton gin allowed for faster production of cotton because the gin simplified the process of separating the seed from the cotton, which before had been done by hand using slave labor. Now slaves picked the cotton, and the gin cleaned the cotton. This allowed for the development of the cotton industry in the territories that had been won after the Louisiana Purchase in 1803, including Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas, and eastern Texas. All of these states made a great deal of revenue from the cotton trade.

It was not just the South that benefited, however. The cotton gin got cotton to textile mills in Northern states. Every major industry reaped the rewards of "King Cotton," including banks and universities.