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The Industrial Age

The Industrial Age

The first industrial revolution had its roots in 18th-century Britain and lasted until the 19th century. But did you know that there was a second industrial revolution, also known as the Technological Revolution? This period ushered in an age of electricity, telephones, advanced rail technology, better-quality products, and an entire generation of new immigrants. This game-changing post-Civil War, pre-World War I era was also dubbed the Gilded Age. Time transformed the way we lived and with its myriad solutions brought in a whole plethora of brand-new social problems as well. We'll delve into these issues in this explanation.

The Industrial Age in America

The Industrial Age in America refers to the period marked by the shift from an agrarian economy to a machine-driven, industrial one when the population moved in droves from rural into urban areas. These massive changes had seen their roots in the first Industrial Revolution beginning in the mid-18th century, predominantly in the textile and iron industries.

The Industrial Age Locomotive Picture StudySmarterFig. 1 Locomotive Picture

The Industrial Age in America refers to the period marked by the shift from an agrarian economy to a machine-driven, industrial one.

Originating in Britain and spread by enterprising immigrants like Samuel Slater, who opened a number of textile mills in New England, the Industrial Revolution took on a life of its own in America. A new crop of homegrown inventors and entrepreneurs introduced their own innovations, such as the cotton gin developed by Eli Whitney, which revolutionized textile making in the American south.

The second Industrial Revolution generally refers to a period of exponential technological growth in the late 19th century following the Civil War (ca. 1870) running up to the beginning of the First World War. This era was marked by innovations in communication, transportation, and production.

The Gilded Age Industrialization

The Gilded Age was a period in American history that roughly coincided with the second Industrial Revolution. The name came from a book by Mark Twain and Dudley Warner entitled The Gilded Age: A Tale of Today. The title was intended to be ironic, and implied that under the surface of America's gleaming new achievements and supposed prosperity lay a dark and sinister underbelly. The fact is that most Americans were struggling financially. The Gilded Age is known for producing the wealthiest industrialists of all time, known as the Robber Barons and Captains of Industry.

The Industrial Age The Gilded Age - Twain - 1874 StudySmarterFig. 2 The Gilded Age - Twain - 1874

Causes of Industrial Growth During the Gilded Age

The expansion of telegraph and rail lines meant that the exchange of information and ideas became much more efficient. Earlier advances in steel and iron-making led to great advances in the modern factory and the production of interchangeable parts. Electrification of the factory, as well as developments in water and sanitation, soon gave way to the assembly line, so crucial to the development of the automobile industry.

The Industrial Age William Gropper's 1941 mural of an automotive factory StudySmarterFig. 3 William Gropper's 1941 mural of an automotive factory

New technology

Technological advances meant a new standard of living for those living in the United States. New-fangled devices were introduced that would revolutionize daily life and industry. These included the vacuum cleaner, the refrigerator, sewing machines, and more. The communications revolution was cinched through Alexander Graham Bell's invention of the telephone.

The Industrial Age Bell's drawing for his application for a patent for a primitive fax machine StudySmarterFig. 4 Bell's drawing for his application for a patent for a primitive fax machine

Improvements in the rail industry had been in development as far back as the Civil War, which led to vast advancements in the realm of transportation. Now goods could be transported cross-country on the cheap. The introduction of the new Bessemer process in steel-making meant upgrades in the quality of steel, which strengthened the rail system as well as manufacturing. Henry Ford's great contribution to production in the Gilded Age was his invention of the assembly line, which was devised for his production of the Model T. In the 1920s, there were 5 of these cars on the road for every person.

A Wave of Immigration

As electrified factories and offices began to open in cities, huge waves of immigrants descended on the US looking for work. However, the roads were not to be paved with gold–far from it. Working conditions in many cases left much to be desired. Working hours had increased in offices with the advent of electricity. This increase caused a drastic dip in the quality of life of many workers.

The Industrial Age Picture of wave of Immigrants StudySmarterFig. 5 Picture of wave of Immigrants

Social Problems During the Industrial Age

Industrialization and the accompanying influx of millions of immigrants, along with the move of workers from rural into rapidly expanding urban environments, meant that these folks needed some form of accommodation. Unfortunately, this movement was unprecedented, and the existing infrastructure could not accommodate the new arrivals. Development of industrial technology simply outpaced the ability to provide housing and sanitation for the workers, and with no logical sense of urban planning, many slipped between the cracks.

The poor lived with their families in overcrowded conditions in tenements and slums. As there was no heating or sanitation in these buildings, and no health insurance, millions died of disease. However, the existence of these housing units was a double-edged sword for many: while rife with problems, the tenements and slums provided a valuable sense of belonging and community for ethnic immigrant families.

Social Stratification

The gaps in income between the classes in America contributed to social stratification or arrangement of society into disparate classes or groups. The Gilded Age saw the most pronounced gap between social strata up to that point. In fact, only ten percent of the country's population owned 90% of the wealth.

Stratification - the division of things into separate classifications or groupings.

Robber Barons and Captains of Industry

The income disparities between the lower, middle and upper classes created a big social divide and fomented much resentment towards the elite and business tycoons who had made their fortunes off the backs of other less fortunate folks. These businessmen had seized the wealth of opportunities brought by the Gilded Age of industrialization, but they were much hated by the hoi polloi due to their association with unethical business practices.

The Industrial Age John Davison Rockefeller Senior, 1917 portrait painted by John Singer Sargent StudySmarterFig. 6 John Davison Rockefeller Senior, 1917 portrait painted by John Singer Sargent

These were industrial leaders the likes of whom included such names as John D. Rockefeller, Cornelius Vanderbilt, and Andrew Carnegie: super-capitalists whose names are forever etched into America's consciousness as builders of an industrial empire.

However, the term "Robber Barons" was far from flattering–indeed, it was downright hostile. This title was indicative of a fortune built on questionable ethics and abuse of power in pursuit of monopolies.

"Captains of Industry" didn't fare much better, though it had a slightly more positive connotation in that it referred to wealthy industrialists who sometimes doubled as philanthropists and whose wealth actually benefitted society. Due to the gaps in social status, however, the two terms were often used interchangeably.

Impacts of the Industrial Age

The impact of the Industrial Age meant that new technology enabled mass production like never before. Cities became the strongholds of industry and manufacturing. Workers descended on these conurbations en masse. The resulting increase in density caused major issues with living conditions. Families lived in tenement housing which was cramped and often unsanitary. Workplace safety was often compromised. Such conditions of poverty were a blight on urban life for much of the first half of the 20th century.

Age of Information:

The legacy of the Industrial Age can be seen in the transition from the era of industry and great machinery, to one of digital transmission of information and computing. Computer technology became a huge part of the world economy in the mid-twentieth century, as advancements in fiber optics and communication using transistor technology gave way to large-scale computer banks. These computers gradually became smaller and smaller until they metamorphosed into accessible handheld devices we use today, including smartphones. In terms of the workforce, information technology has led to great expansion of the IT sector and has also seen the transition of jobs into a global marketplace. Outsourcing, wherein jobs were transferred to cheaper international labor sources, became the new normal in American enterprise. Many industries of old have been rendered obsolete, such as steel factories, jobs in automobile plants, etc. Many jobs have become automated, and there has been a rise in career changes into "thinking professions", such as medicine, academia, and legal professions.

The Industrial Age - Key takeaways

  • The Industrial Age was a period in American history that lasted approximately from the end of the Civil War to the start of World War II. It is also known as the Age of Technology.
  • The Industrial Age saw huge changes in America due to advances in communication, transportation, and technology.
  • Rapid urban growth led to a host of problems such as overcrowding in slums and tenements.
  • Robber barons were wealthy tycoons who created business empires out of ethically questionable practices.

Frequently Asked Questions about The Industrial Age

The industrial age refers to a time period in America when the American economy shifted from farming or agriculture to a machine-driven and industrial economy and the population shifted from rural to urban areas. 

During the industrial age, Americans shifted from the rural area to more urban areas. Additionally, the economy shifted from agricultural to more machine-driven. The first industrial revolution began in the mid-18th century and focused on more textile and iron industries.  

The three factors that transformed industry during the Gilded Age were the creation of the factory line or new technologies, the creation of the railroad, and new business practices. 

The creation of new technologies, such as the railroad, telegraphs, and other methods of manufacturing led to industrialization. 

The industrial age saw the rise of new technologies, such as the assembly line, railroads, and new devices for communication such as Graham Bell's telephone. The information age is characterized by computers and how they process information in new ways, such as social media and how social networks assist individuals with processing information and connecting with one another.

Final The Industrial Age Quiz

Question

How did the industrial revolution change the world?

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Answer

The Industrial Revolution changed the world politically, socially, and economically by using mass production, new forms of travel and product shipment, and new ways to communicate over long distances.

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What were three major effects of the Industrial Revolution?

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1. The automation of production 

2. Increased women's rights 

3. Urbanization

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What caused the industrial revolution?

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The Industrial Revolution was caused by the invention of steam power and new machinery that could cut down labor time and expenses of production.

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Why did the Industrial Revolution start in Great Britain?

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The Industrial Revolution started in great Britain due to their development of iron and textile industries via new machinery. The country was also the first to develop prototypes for steam engines.

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Where did the Industrial Revolution begin?

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Great Britain

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Question

There are two Industrial revolutions; the second one beginning in the late 19th & early 20th centuries.

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True

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Steam power not only helped create new machinery, it also helped power the vehicles that transported products all over the world.

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True.

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The Industrial Revolution was a benefit to everyone; the poor class, middle class, and the upper class.

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Answer

False

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What were negative effects of the British Industrial Revolution?

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1. Pollution and lack of clean drinking water.

2. Exploitation of workers and low-paying jobs. 

3. Dangerous home and work environments due to lack of regulations.

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What were positive effects of the British Industrial Revolution?

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Answer

1. Strengthening economy and bringing in more money.

2. More work opportunity for men and women. 

3. Easier access to clothing, transportation, and communication.

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Coal was in high demand for the generation of steam power.

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True

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What happened after the British Industrial Revolution?

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What happened after the Industrial Revolution?

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1. Labor Unions were formed in order to protect workers. 

2. Health and safety codes were implemented in factories.

3. Child labor laws were set in place.

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Though Britain and America both had their separate inventors, their industrial development and its effects were similar.

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True

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Question

The Industrial Revolution began to put women in the work-force for the first time; what industry most commonly employed women?

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Textiles

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By the end of the 20th century, the US had become the worlds leading industrial nation.

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True

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What invention was a crucial element in advancing industrialisation?

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The steam engine

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Which country was the first to industrialise?

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Britain

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Which country industrialised after Britain?

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Belgium

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What infrastructure was important for industrialisation?

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Railroads

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Where was the first textile mill in the US?

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Rhode Island

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What nickname was given to Samuel Slater by the British?

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Slater the Traitor

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Why were so many US businessmen able to become wealthy so quickly?

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Slavery

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What did Alexander Hamilton encourage regarding the Industrial Revolution?

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Piracy of British industrial secrets

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What did the British do to try to stop piracy of their inventions?

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Ban the export of machinery and the workers who ran the machines.

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Which country has the biggest industrial output today?

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China

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Who introduced new textile technology in America?

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Samuel Slater

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What kind of housing did many families live in in the Industrial Age?

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Tenements.

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Who invented the cotton gin?

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Eli Whitney

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True or false: society became increasingly agrarian during the Industrial Age.

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False.

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True or false: workers descended on cities en masse during the Industrial Age.

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True

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True or False: the Gilded Age saw an unprecedented rise in social equality.

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False.

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True or False: the Gilded Age took its name from a popular song.

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False. It took its name from The Gilded Age: Tale of Today by Mark Twain and Dudley Warner.

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These were leading industrialists who pursued monopolies in ethically questionable ways.

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Robber barons 

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The invention of the assembly line was associated with the development of the______________.

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automobile

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Name three devices invented in the Industrial Age.

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Three of the following:

-refrigerator

-vacuum cleaner

-telephone

-telegraph

-radio

-automobile




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What was the new process in steel-making introduced in the Industrial Age?

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The Bessemer process

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Which was a more negative term, Captains of Industry or Robber Barons?

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Robber Barons.

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Who invented the Model T?

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Henry Ford.

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Which invention revolutionised the automobile industry?

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The assembly line.

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These were poor areas with substandard housing controlled by corrupt landlords.

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Slums

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Which one of these was a Captain of Industry?

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J.D. Rockefeller

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What is economic imperialism?

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Economic imperialism is the process of using economic means to influence or control a foreign country or territory.

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What political process sped up in Asia, Africa, and Latin America after World War II?

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Decolonization

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What form of control was primarily used by powerful states since the mid-20th century?

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Neocolonialism

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In which country did the Cochabamba Water War take place?

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Bolivia

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What present-day international bodies provide loans and other help to the Global South?

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The IMF and the World Bank

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What American company was called "the octopus" in Latin America?

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Answer

United Fruit Company

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When did the U.S. and Britain carry out regime change in Iran?

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Answer

1953

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Congo was a former country of which European power?

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Belgium

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The U.S. foreign policy in Latin America was historically guided by:

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Answer

Roosevelt Corollary to the Monroe Doctrine

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