Civilizing the Machine
John F. Kasson
Introduction: In the article, "Civilizing the Machine", John F. Kasson discusses the Industrial Revolution and the evolution of manufacturing in America. Kasson also discusses how political leaders with the same political views as Thomas Jefferson, a person who was strongly against industrialization and supportive to agriculture, reacted towards this European like society and economy and how families played roles in this new society. Kasson provides enough evidence to answer the questions on how America became an industrial nation with a strong economy.
Critical Summary: The Industrial Revolution in the United States came after the War of 1812. The Industrial Revolution introduced the steam engine which improved factories and the transportation system throughout the nation. The United States of America became a Hamiltonian economy after all. The idea of industrialization seemed like it would be a negative to the nature of America: "Such reports confirmed the popular American image of English factory towns as cancers against both nature and society" (2). However, people who went against the process of industrialization found them selves tolerating the new European like society because it improved self-manufacturing. The solution to the divide in view was to organize the factories as one institution so that companies can exercise exclusive control over the environment: "Unlike most English cotton factories of this time, which were powered by steam, American mills depended upon water power; and the necessity to locate the plant near an important rapids further insured that the community would be placed in the country, apart from urban contamination" (2). The American society did decide to change a few things from the English system. Instead of hiring full families into the factories, America wanted to keep their work force as a force with men and women compared to full families including school-aged children.