RECONSTRUCTION THROUGH THE EARLY TWENTIETH CENTURY: THE RELATIONSHIP AMONG TERRITORIAL EXPANSION, WESTWARD MOVEMENT OF THE POPULATION, NEW IMMIGRATION, GROWTH OF CITIES, THE ROLE OF THE RAILROADS, AND THE ADMISSION OF NEW STATES TO THE UNITED STATES.
In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, economic opportunity, industrialization, technological change, and immigration fueled American growth and expansion.
What factors influenced American growth and expansion in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century? Westward movement
• Following the Civil War, the westward movement of settlers intensified in the vast region between the Mississippi River and the Pacific Ocean.
• The years immediately before and after the Civil War were the era of the American cowboy, marked by long cattle drives for hundreds of miles over unfenced open land in the West, the only way to get cattle to market.
• Many Americans had to rebuild their lives after the Civil War. They responded to the incentive of free public land and moved west to take advantage of the Homestead Act of 1862, which gave free public land in the western territories to settlers who would live on and farm the land.
• Southerners, including African Americans in particular, moved west to seek new opportunities after the Civil War.
• New technologies (for example, railroads and the mechanical reaper), opened new lands in the West for settlement and made farming profitable by increasing the efficiency of production and linking resources and markets. By the turn of the century, the Great Plains and Rocky Mountains regions of the American West were no longer a mostly unsettled frontier, but were fast becoming regions of farms, ranches, and towns.
• The forcible removal of the American Indians from their lands continued throughout the remainder of the nineteenth century as settlers continued to move west following the Civil War.
• Prior to 1871, most immigrants to America came from northern and western Europe (Germany, Great Britain, Ireland, Norway, and Sweden). During the half-century from 1871 until 1921, most immigrants came from southern and eastern Europe (Italy, Greece, Poland, Russia, present-day Hungary, and former Yugoslavia), as well as Asia (China and Japan).
• Immigrants made valuable contributions to the dramatic industrial growth of America during this period. Chinese workers helped to build the Transcontinental Railroad. Immigrants worked in textile and steel mills in the Northeast and the clothing industry in New York City. Slavs, Italians, and Poles worked in the coal mines of the East. They often worked for very low pay and endured dangerous working conditions to help build the nation’s industrial strength.
• During this period, immigrants from Europe entered America through Ellis Island in New York harbor. Their first view of America was often the Statue of Liberty, as their ships arrived following the voyage across the Atlantic.
• Immigrants began the process of assimilation into what was termed the American “melting pot.” While often settling in ethnic neighborhoods in the growing cities, they and their children worked hard to learn English, adopt American customs, and become American citizens. The public schools served an essential role in the process of assimilating immigrants into American society.
• Despite the valuable contributions immigrants made to building America during this period, immigrants often faced hardship and hostility. There was fear and resentment that immigrants would take jobs for lower pay than American workers would accept, and there was prejudice based on religious and cultural differences.
• Mounting resentment led Congress to limit immigration through the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 and the
Immigration Restriction Act of 1921. These laws effectively cut off most immigration to America for the next several decades; however, the immigrants of this period and their descendants continued to contribute immeasurably to American society.
Growth of cities
• As the nation’s industrial growth continued, cities such as Chicago, Detroit, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, and New York grew rapidly as manufacturing and transportation centers. Factories in the large cities provided jobs, but workers’ families often lived in harsh conditions, crowded into tenements and slums.
• The rapid growth of cities caused housing shortages and the need for new public services, such as sewage and water systems and public transportation. New York City was the first city to begin construction of a subway system around the turn of the twentieth century, and many cities built trolley or streetcar lines.
Admission of new states
• As the population moved westward, many new states in the Great Plains and Rocky Mountains regions were added to the United States. By the early twentieth century, all the states that make up the continental United States today, from the Atlantic to the Pacific, had been admitted.
THE TRANSFORMATION OF THE AMERICAN ECONOMY FROM A PRIMARILY AGRARIAN TO A MODERN INDUSTRIAL ECONOMY AND IDENTIFYING MAJOR INVENTIONS THAT IMPROVED LIFE IN THE UNITED STATES.
During the period from the Civil War to World War I, the United States underwent an economic transformation that involved the development of an industrial economy, the expansion of big business, the growth of large-scale agriculture, and the rise of national labor unions and industrial conflict. What fueled the modern industrial economy? Technological change spurred growth of industry primarily in northern cities.
• Corporation (limited liability)
Bessemer steel process
• Light bulb (Thomas Edison) and electricity as a source of power and light
• Telephone (Alexander Graham Bell)
• Airplane (Wright brothers)
• Assembly-line manufacturing (Henry Ford)
Andrew Carnegie (steel)
• J. P. Morgan (finance)
• John D. Rockefeller (oil)
• Cornelius Vanderbilt (railroads)
Reasons for economic transformation
• Laissez-faire capitalism and special considerations (e.g., land grants to railroad builders)
• The increasing labor supply (from immigration and migration from farms)
• America’s possession of a wealth of natural resources and navigable rivers
PREJUDICE AND DISCRIMINATION DURING THIS TIME PERIOD, WITH EMPHASIS ON “JIM CROW” AND THE RESPONSES OF BOOKER T. WASHINGTON AND W.E.B. DUBOIS Discrimination against and segregation of African Americans intensified and took new forms in the late nineteenth century and early twentieth century.
African Americans disagreed about how to respond to these developments.
How did race relations in the South change after Reconstruction, and what was the African American response? Discrimination against and segregation of African Americans
• Laws limited freedoms for African Americans.
• After reconstruction, many Southern state governments passed “Jim Crow” laws forcing separation of the races in public places.
• Intimidation and crimes were directed against African Americans (lynchings).
African Americans looked to the courts to safeguard their rights.
• In Plessy v. Ferguson, the Supreme Court ruled that “separate but equal” did not violate the 14th Amendment, upholding the “Jim Crow” laws of the era.
• During the early twentieth century, African Americans began the “Great Migration” to Northern cities in search of jobs and to escape poverty and discrimination in the South.
Responses of African Americans
• Ida B. Wells led an anti-lynching crusade and called on the federal government to take action.
• Booker T. Washington believed the way to equality was through vocational education and economic success; he accepted social separation.
• W.E.B. DuBois believed that education was meaningless without equality. He supported political equality for African Americans by helping to form the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).
THE PROGRESSIVE MOVEMENT, INCLUDING THE EXCESSES OF THE GILDED AGE, CHILD LABOR AND ANTITRUST LAWS, THE RISE OF LABOR UNIONS, AND THE SUCCESS OF THE WOMEN’S SUFFRAGE MOVEMENT.
The period from Reconstruction through the early twentieth century was a time of contradictions for many Americans. Agricultural expansion was accomplished through wars against the Plains Indians, leading to new federal Indian policies. Industrial development brought great fortunes to a few and raised the standard of living for millions of Americans, but also brought about the rise of national labor unions and clashes between industry and labor. Social problems in rural and urban settings gave rise to third-party movements and the beginning of the Progressive Movement.
How did the excesses of the Gilded Age contribute to the development of the Progressive Movement? The Progressive Movement used government to institute reforms for problems created by industrialization. Examples of reform include Theodore Roosevelt’s “Square Deal” and Woodrow Wilson’s “New Freedom.”
Causes of the Progressive Movement
• Excesses of the Gilded Age
– Income disparity, lavish lifestyles
– Practices of robber barons
– Employment of women
• Working conditions for labor
– Dangerous working conditions
– Child labor
– Long hours, low wages, no job security, no benefits, Company towns