How did the Second Industrial Revolution (1870—1920) change the landscape of America economically, intellectual, culturally?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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I think that one of the distinct ways in which America was impacted with the Second Industrial Revolution was through the introduction of wealth into different aspects of society.  The massive proliferation of wealth helped to change the landscape of economic power in America.  The movement of the nation from farms to factories triggered a consolidation of wealth in the nation's cities, as urbanization accompanied rapid industrialization.  There was an embrace of economic notions of the good as being the dominant force in American society.  Carnegie's Gospel of Wealth affirmed the allure and power of wealth.  Speeches from industrialist advocates like Russell Conwell, such as his Acres of Diamonds, stressed that it was an individual's "duty to get rich." Popular literature espoused the Horatio Alger story of "rags to riches."  

These ideas manifested themselves culturally, as millions of Americans believed that they, too, could become wealthy through the rapid development of the nation.  The presence of wealth was undeniable and permeated itself into as many spheres as possible. The consolidation of wealth and the desire to ensure that wealth production, through what Zinn termed as "blood, sweat, politics and thievery," was a driving force in the Second Industrial Revolution of the United States.  To ensure that an economic focus entered as many aspects of life is where the revolution element was most notable.  It is here where the economic power of the time period manifested itself into as many spheres of American society as possible.  

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