What was the Industrial Revolution and how did it affect American society?

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The Industrial Revolution was the growth of industry and manufacturing that first occurred during the 1800s. The Industrial Revolution began in England, but spread to other European countries and the United States shortly after. The Industrial Revolution saw new technology shift the methods of manufacturing production to a more standardized, factory-oriented, approach. To understand the impact of the Industrial Revolution, it is also important to notice other factors that helped feed into its effects.

With improvements in agricultural production during the late 18th and early 19th centuries, wealthier farmers were able to expand the amount of land they could utilize. This put many poorer and smaller farmers out of business. With these smaller farmers out of business, many sought new sources of income through factory employment in cities. This led to rapid urbanization in industrialized nations, as these workers sought to move closer to their places of employment. Many cities became overcrowded and issues arose dealing with disease and proper sanitation.

Another major impact of the Industrial Revolution was the decline of many small-scale manufacturers. For many years, manufactured goods were produced on a small-scale, often at home, by skilled craftsmen. This process, however, meant that production was generally more expensive. The factory system allowed these same goods to be produced much faster, and much more cheaply. This allowed them to be sold at a cheaper price, and thus provided difficult competition for small-scale manufacturers. Many of these small-scale manufacturers simply could not compete and sometimes found themselves employed by the same factories that had led to their demise. Cheaper production did, however, benefit those looking to purchase manufactured goods. The cheaper sale prices meant that more people could afford more goods.

The Industrial Revolution led to many shifts in society, both positive and negative. Goods could now be produced more quickly and at a cheaper cost, however this also meant the end for many small manufacturers. Cities grew larger, but with that came overcrowding and pollution. What is very clear, however, is the fact that the Industrial Revolution saw a massive shift in the structure of society that would be lead into the modern era of production.

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