Was the Industrial Revolution good or bad for America?

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pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The answer to this is, of course, a matter of opinion.  There is no objective way to determine whether an event is good or bad for a country.  In this answer, I will list ways in which the Industrial Revolution seems to have hurt the US and ways in which it seems to have helped.  You can determine for yourself which set of impacts outweighs the other.

The Industrial Revolution clearly helped the United States in economic terms.  It definitely helped the country get richer.  Without industrialization, the US would not have had a nation-wide railroad system.  Without industrialization it would never have had all the automobiles and airplanes it now has.  Without industrialization, the US would never have been able to mass produce all sorts of consumer goods.  Industrialization allows a country to make more goods and to make them less expensively than they were made before industrialization.

On the other hand, we can say that the Industrial Revolution harmed the US in other ways.  For example, industrialization has harmed the environment.  Industrialization led to polluted air and water.  It has now, apparently, led to global warming.  It has led to the destruction of a great deal of animal habitat as the country has expanded and people have taken over places that used to be wild.  As another example, we might say that industrialization has harmed the social fiber of the country.  People used to live in small towns where they knew everyone else well.  People cared about one another and took care of one another.  Today, we live in large cities where we do not even know our neighbors.  We no longer feel the same connection to other people that we felt in simpler times.

So, which impact is more important in your opinion?  Would the US be better-off if it were poorer and less populated, but with a cleaner environment and more social cohesion?  Is the US better-off now with the world that industrialization has created?  Your answer to this will tell you whether you think the Industrial Revolution was good or bad for the United States.

alnathanw | Student

Was the Industrial Revolution good or bad for America