What role did the US government play in American industrialization?The Rise of Industrial America

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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In the US,  government played different roles at different stages in the industrialization of the American economy.  In the earliest days of industrialization, the government did little but to provide a stable business environment and, perhaps, some infrastructure.  When the Lowell mills were starting up as America’s first factories, the government was not strongly involved.  It provided patent protections and law and order, but that was about it.

Later, the government became involved in creating infrastructure.  The first really famous and impactful instance of this was with the building of the Erie Canal.   The federal government was not involved in this, but the New York state government was.  Later, the federal government became very involved in funding the growth of infrastructure when it subsidized the building of the transcontinental railroad.  By doing these things, the government helped create the infrastructure that allowed raw materials to move to factories and finished goods to be distributed.

In the post-Civil War era, the government also provided a legal climate that was very conducive to business growth.  The government essentially allowed businesses to do whatever they wanted to grow.  The government also tended to suppress unions.  These things helped business grow and industrialize.

Over time, then, the government has played a variety of roles in support of American industrialization. 

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