The Industrial Revolution
Before the Industrial Revolution, life was very different from today’s standards. Most labor was done by hand, such as planting crops, spinning thread and making utensils. But in the 1700s in Europe, the population grew quickly and placed more demands on communities.1 They needed more efficient ways of getting things done. The Industrial Revolution was born.
The Industrial Revolution was a time when many new inventions were being made, like the spinning jenny, the water-powered loom, the steam engine, and new farm machines.2 Because many jobs that related to these new inventions were in the cities, many people moved away from rural areas to be closer to their jobs. As the trend spread in European countries, it also began to take place in the United States.3
When the Industrial Revolution first began in the United States, leaders disagreed about it. Some leaders, like Thomas Jefferson, thought the United States should be a nation of small business-owners and farmers. Others, like Alexander Hamilton, thought the Industrial Revolution would help the United States remain competitive and strong4. Eventually most American leaders agreed that the Industrial Revolution was good for the United States, so a national bank was set up to help factories, and new patent laws were created so people could own the rights to their inventions. By the end of the 1700s, the United States had many inventions to add to the Industrial Revolution, such as larger textile mills Eli Whitney’s cotton gin.5
1. Anita L. McCormick, The Industrial Revolution in American History (Springfield: Enslow Publishers, 1998) 14.
2. McCormick 16.
3. Andrew Langley, The Industrial Revolution (New York: Penguin Books, 1994) 30.
4. McCormick 24-25.
5. McCormick 27.
Around 1861, the U.S. railroad tracks were 30,000 miles long. Railroads were very important for transporting goods. The railroad industry quickly became the biggest business in the United States....