In what ways did the railroad industry reshape or change American life and business in the late 1800s?   2. What were the differences in lifestyle and opportunities for those in America’s middle and lower classes? What impact did the change have on Native Americans?   3. What was the cultural change due to the new Industrial Age in the Late 1800s?    

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The development of the American railroad, combined with other advances in technology of the late 1800s, generated huge changes in American life and business. Small business owners, whose markets had previously been limited to their nearby communities, could suddenly send the their goods to buyers all over the country. Further,...

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The development of the American railroad, combined with other advances in technology of the late 1800s, generated huge changes in American life and business. Small business owners, whose markets had previously been limited to their nearby communities, could suddenly send the their goods to buyers all over the country. Further, factories in northern states that had been exporting goods overseas similarly had new opportunities to sell goods to buyers in western and southern states. In short, the American railroad caused a boom in the economy.

The impacts these changes had for Americans in the middle and lower classes were profound. The average individual experienced greater geographic mobility, which empowered people to exchange ideas and move in the hopes of finding better jobs or better educational opportunities. Many middle and low-income Americans were able to leave subsistence farming as the agricultural industry could produce and distribute enough food for the nation. This freed people to further their education and seek better-paying jobs in cities. Overall, American society shifted culturally from being rural and agrarian to urban and industrial.

These changes also had profound effects for Native Americans. During early United States expansion, Native Americans were relocated from the eastern territories to the Midwest using a mix of diplomacy, coercion, and violence. The expansion of the railroads infringed on these Native American reservations and forced another wave of relocation of Native Americans to still smaller reservations. The expansion of the railroad caused increased tensions and violence between settlers in western territories and Native Americans.

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