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The Economic Shift of the American Society from Agriculture based to Industrialized Economy

Discussion 10 – Topic; Industrialization

Begin your answer like this:

“Yes (No), the costs of industrialization outweighed the benefits for the following reasons:”

First, (50 words or more)

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Second, (50 words or more)

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Third, (50 words or more)

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Fourth, (50 words or more)

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Background:

This chapter highlights the major economic changes that would transform the United States from small, agricultural, rural society into an industrialized, urbanized power. The 1820s to the 1850s were the beginnings of an industrial revolution. The industrial revolution was caused by an increase in population, advances in transportation and communication, and technological development. Note how advances in technology and vast natural resources (most of them found in newly acquired territory) combined with a pro-business government allowed American capitalism to expand at will. In addition, manufacturing was booming. Goods were being produced in mass quantities and a large labor force was needed.

While many historians have lamented the passing of a simpler life on the farm and the emergence of harsh working conditions, it is also fair to point out that for many Americans economic growth translated into economic opportunities and social mobility. Bad as conditions were, young people left the farm willingly, and millions of immigrants from Europe understood that in America there was a much better chance of improving their lives than in the old country. This is an era when immigration was encouraged and virtually all immigrants came with permission – note that for many decades American business was a strong supporter of immigration because it wanted a large, cheap supply of labor.

Also of interest is the growing dichotomy between North and South. Ask yourself why the South remained agricultural while the North became increasingly industrial? Was it a lack of resources, labor, or capital? Or was it the desire of the Southern power brokers to maintain their preferred lifestyle? Should we really fault the Southern aristocracy for seeking to avoid the materialist rat-race of Northern capitalists? Was the South correct in complaining that Northern industrialization was being paid for by the South because high tariffs, in effect, were indirect subsidization of northern businesses?

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