How did American cities change in the years after the Civil War ended in 1865? 

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lhc | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator

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American cities had been undergoing a metamorphosis of sorts since the Industrial Revolution found its way across the pond in the form of Samuel Slater and the plans he memorized for a textile mill.  Interchangeable parts and mass production took root easily and quickly in cities all across the American Northeast, where thin, rocky, worn out soil made agricultural pursuits ever more difficult and many Americans were more than happy to head to the cities to work in one of the many factories springing up and earn cash.  In fact, rapid industrialization in Northern cities was one of many differences between the North and South that created sectional tension that culminated in the Civil War of 1861-1865; tempers had flared for years in Congress, where economic policy that was good for one section wasn't usually good for the other. Another change that helped the North win the Civil War, and spurred cities to more and faster development was the advent of the railroad as a form of transportation.  These trends continued after the Civil War, through Reconstruction and on into the late 1800's and early 1900's, a period sometimes referred to as the Victorian period, named for Queen Victoria of England; the Victorian period was known for ruffles and flourishes in decor, dark furnishings, florals, velvet, Valentines, and summer homes and vacations for those who could afford it.  Historians sometimes describe this period in America as a backlash against the rapid industrialization of cities and the depersonalization of society; the theory goes that a new emphasis on the home, the family, crafts and activities resulted from people trying to insulate themselves against the rapid and impersonal change.   

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