What were the main factors that led to the rise of industrialization in the U.S. in the late 1800s?
Several factors led to the rise of U.S. industrialization in the late 1800’s. New technologies like steam engines, railroads, and telegraphs made communication and transportation easier. The ability to source and transport materials across the country with ease turned many local businesses into national companies. Workplace innovations, such as the assembly-line method of production, allowed these companies to produce goods on a mass scale.
During the second half of the 19th century, a new wave of industrialization spread throughout the U.S. There were several factors spurring this technological movement on. First, several new technologies were developed and improved in rapid succession. Railroads, steam engines, telegraph lines and the internal combustion engine all became more readily available. More and more Americans found themselves depending on industrial technologies for communication, economic and social activities.
Another factor that led to the industrialization of the 1900’s was the Reconstruction Era. As northern companies worked to rebuild southern infrastructure, they also began industrializing where there had once been no industry. For many southerners, the vision of the “New South” included a local industrial base that would help it compete with northern interests and make it more self reliant.
This industrialization of the south also continued out west. As American spread towards the Pacific, western towns began installing communication and economic technologies which kept the shrinking frontier connected to the east. Rail and telegraph lines were the most common, but there was also a demand for dynamos, furnaces and other necessities which helped modernize the west.
American industry grew in the late 19th century due to several factors. One was the Westward Expansion of the nation, facilitating the growth of railroads that allowed the country's markets to be interlinked with one another, allowing transport, trade, and business growth to emerge. Another reason why industry grew in this time period was due to technology and innovative ways to pry oil from the ground and develop steel at a low cost. The Bessemer process increased steel production, while oil tapping became a process that grew all over the nation. As inventions grew such as the telephone and typewriter, the nation was becoming larger and smaller simultaneously, allowing commerce to flourish in a manner that perpetuated economic growth for many. The assembly line method, introduced earlier in American History, became the model for more factories, increasing production and material acquisition. Finally, Ford's automobiles and the Wright Brothers' plane created a revolution in transportation that, once again, interlinked market centers. The influx of immigrants to America from Europe at the end of the century gave industrialists and willing and able labor pool that allowed greater wealth to be generated, as well.
In the late 1800s, technology began to advance at a faster rate than it had ever done in the past. In a span of 30 years, beginning in 1960, over 500,000 patents were issued for inventions mainly involving new forms of energy. Electricity and lighting changed the way that Americans worked and allowed a boom in industrial production.
Steel production improved due to technological advances too. This led to improvements in transportation when railroads and bridges could more easily be built. With these improvements in transportation came more opportunities for industry to grow, as supplies could more readily be delivered and products shipped. Communication improvements brought about with all of the inventions of the era, such as the telephone, improved the way that industries operated.
All of these technological advances changed the way that American industry did business. From small, family owned businesses, American industry began to quickly transform in the late 1800s. Industries grew into large, national companies.
Lastly, industrialization benefited when more immigrants began to arrive in this time period, providing a cheap labor force that assured the large industries had a plentiful workforce.
During the 1800s, United States experienced numerous changes that aided the industrialization process.
First and foremost, the mechanization of labor in the manufacturing industry was cost efficient and had a ripple effect in terms of production of cheaper goods which were in turn sold in large volumes. Alongside this, the division of labor which facilitated specialization saw the rate of production increase. During the second half of the 1800s, there was an influx of immigrants in America that provided both a ready market for the manufactured goods and labor that was required in the thriving industries. The use of machines also enabled the invention and manufacture of new products including the typewriter, telephone and gasoline powered automobiles.
Secondly, the construction of the transcontinental railroad network that connected the entire United States played a critical role in the industrialization process. Raw materials were ferried to manufacturing sites as finished products were distributed throughout America fast. This stimulated economic growth tremendously.