Why did national industrial productivity rise in the late 1800s?
It was at this time that the Industrial Revolution came to America. For several decades England had been growing in industrial might, but England worked hard to keep this technology from getting to America as they wanted to keep the US in a subservient, raw goods producing position. However, thanks to the efforts of a few men who managed to sneak technological information out of England – particularly Samuel Slater and Francis Cabot Lowell, both in the textile industry – the United States joined the industrial revolution. In fact, Lowell was the first to process bales to finished fabric under one roof.
The industrial revolution completely changed the relationship between people and work – for the better and the worse. Previously, people had mostly been farmers or craftsmen. Now there were factories with machines and the huge increases in productivity that came with them. This vastly increased the availability of goods that were affordable by average people, and made people more mobile. On the other hand, people had less ownership of their work, and became more vulnerable to economic swings.