Following the civil war, industries, businesses, and labor in America changed dramatically. For example, the production rate increased due to the use of machines that replaced hand labor. Inventions like trains transported products, businesses expanded through the available finances from banks and investors, and new products that were essential for consumers were produced in large quantities. Cussen (2019) explains that the majority of business operations were located in cities, which led people to migrate to the cities, and the value of products produced increased. The business organized the laborers who worked for approximately 60 hours a week to earn 20 cents an hour without fringe benefits.
Discuss several of the industries of America’s Industrial Revolution in the post-Civil War period.
Following the civil war, the U.S. was transformed from an agricultural society to an industrial country due to: the emergence of highly talented business leaders, replenishment of immigration following the introduction of large labor forces, new technology and inventions, and massive availability of raw materials. Hillstorm and Hillstorm (2005) explain that the old industries in America were expanded and new industries were formed. Some of the new industries in America after the Civil War included electrical power, steel manufacturing, and petroleum refining. There was a significant expansion of railway networks, which accessed the remote regions.
What made these leaders of industry successful?
One of the factors that led to the success of the industrial revolution is transport. Cussen (2019) explains that in the 1700s, people took several days to travel from London to Manchester but in 1870 people took four hours to travel the same distance. This followed the construction of the first intercity railway connecting Liverpool and Manchester. The use of railway transport enabled the transportation of more freight quickly and cheaply.
The revolution in the agricultural sector resulted in higher food output. However, during the agricultural revolution, the farmers were significantly less in number resulting in surplus workers who were forced to look for work in other industries. Some of the factors that led to the agricultural revolution include better transport, economies of scale from bigger farms, selective breeding, and crop rotation. The industrial revolution was greatly influenced by the use of the steam engine, which was applied by steam trains as well as used in steam-powered machines and pumps that increased the productivity of workers.
Explain the origins and growth of labor unions.
The labor unions in the U.S. have tremendously grown from the period after the Civil War. Before that, there were few labor unions, which were disbanded after the achievement of their goals. The first labor union, the National Labor Union was created in 1866 in attempts to convince Congress to reduce the number of hours for federal employees. However, this was disrupted by an inflow of immigrants in the U.S., which resulted in poor conditions and poor pay. These poor working conditions and low wages led to strikes among the United Mineworkers and Pullman Railroad workers. Following this was the foundation of Federation of Organized Trades and Labor Unions in 1881 and the American Federation of Labor (AFL).
What did Labor Unions accomplish?
Congress was led to form the Department of Labor, as well as introduced the Clayton Antitrust Act of 1914, which allowed workers to boycott and strike. Later the aspect of a minimum wage was introduced through the formation of Fair Labor Standards and Public Contract Acts. Generally, the introduction of unions was of benefits to the laborers, as it sets standards for the quality of life for employees, working conditions, wages, skills levels, and education. For example, employees who are in unions are likely to receive better wages than those without unions. In addition, the majority of unions provides contracts that protect the laborers from federal and state laws.
Clark, G., O’Rourke, K. H., & Taylor, A. M. (2008). Made in America? The new world, the old, and the industrial revolution. American Economic Review, 98(2), 523-28.
Cussen, M. (2019). The History of Unions in the United States. Investopedia. [online] Available at https://www.investopedia.com/financial-edge/0113/the-history-of-unions-in-the-united-states.aspx [Accessed 7 Jun. 2019].Hillstrom, K., & Hillstrom, L. C. (Eds.). (2005). The industrial revolution in America. Abc-Clio.
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