Unit 4 Unit Guide

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Unit 4 Unit Guide

From Farms to Factories: The Rise of Industry

Name _______________ US History



In the second half of the 19th century (1850-1900), the United States had an “Industrial Revolution.” The term “revolution” is not used frequently in history, as it is reserved for those events or eras that cause overwhelming, and irreversible changes in a society. During the Industrial Revolution, the following changes took place:

  1. Work: American work changes, as people move from farming into industrial jobs.

  2. Urbanization: Americans begin moving from farms to cities (Urbanization)

  3. Inventions: major American inventions change the way we live and work.

  4. Wealth: The United States generates enormous wealth, becoming the wealthiest

nation on earth…but it goes into the hands of wealthy business leaders,

while workers struggle.

  1. Unions: struggling workers organize labor unions to fight for better conditions.

  2. Immigrants: opportunity in the United States draws a million immigrants a year to

our shores.

Part 1: Shift from Agrarian to Industrial

2 million years ago 8000BC 1850 1980



99.5% 49% .1% ??
A Life in the Hunter-Gatherer Era (all of human history before 8000BC)

These people meet their basic needs by moving seasonally to hunt animals and gather wild edible food and natural resources. Very few people live this way today…

B Life in the Agrarian Era (from 10,000 years ago up to the Industrial Revolution…~1850)

  1. Meet their basic needs by farming and raising livestock in one location.

  2. Communal societies are communal, with families farming in one place for generations, living cooperatively with other agrarian families.

  3. People are self-sufficient, meaning they meet all of their basic needs through their own efforts.

  4. People do not have much material wealth, and everyone is the same social class.

  5. Today, over 50% of the population of the world is still living an agrarian lifestyle!

C Life in the Industrial Era (From 1850 – 1980’s)

  1. Work for a company manufacturing products, often in a factory in/near a big city.

  2. Depend on a paycheck to meet their basic needs (rent, utility bills, buying food and clothing, etc.)….so NOT self-sufficient.

  3. Owners and managers of companies are rich while workers make far less.

  4. Today, over 30% of the population of the world lives an industrial lifestyle.

D Post-Industrial Era (mid 70’s to the present)

Countries like the United States have entered this phase.

  1. Most workers no longer manufacture products. Instead, they manage information and ideas: research and development, design, finance, marketing, advertising, accounting.

  2. Most products that people purchase are made in other countries that still have an industrial economy.

E The Shift from Agrarian to Industrial

The shift from Agrarian to Industrial dramatically changed how American’s lived their lives:

Agrarian Society

Industrial Society

Where do people live?

WHAT do people do for work?

WHO do people work for?

WHERE do people work?

WHAT do people live in, and who owns it?

How do people get food?

HOW do people get water?

Do people MOVE for work?

Does extended family live near each other?

What do people OWN?

Do people have cash?

Are there products available for sale in the economy?

Part 2: What Factors led the United States to have an Industrial Revolution?

A Abundant Natural Resources

The United States is blessed with abundant natural resources. Early industry used wood, stone and iron as building materials, and early industry was powered by water wheels and steam engines that used abundant coal as an energy source. Lamps were powered with whale oil.

During the Industrial revolution, the invention of a NEW building material and the discovery of a NEW source of energy made the United States an even better place for Industry to develop.

  1. STEEL becomes the main building material of the I.R Steel had been around for awhile but was very expensive …until “the Bessemer Process” made it much more efficient and cheap to make. You don’t need to know this process, but its’ kinda cool: (next page)

Blowing Cool Air onto Molten Iron causes the iron to HEAT UP…becoming “White

Hot.” Carbon (which makes iron weak), oxidizes (bonds with Oxygen) and is released

as CO (Carbon Monoxide). When the mixture cools, you have steel!

  1. Steel is superior to Iron because…

a) It doesn’t break under pressure…it bends (skyscrapers)

b) It doesn’t rust in the presence of moisture.

c) It is Lighter than Iron.

  1. Steel was used for EVERYTHING...

  1. Out West: barbed wire, farm equipment, windmills

  2. Railroad: steel rails

  3. Bridges: steel cables on suspension bridges.

d) Buildings: steel “skeleton” that any “skin” can be hung on (stone, glass,

brick…), allowing buildings to soar far higher than the 4-story limit of

iron/stone buildings.

      1. OIL becomes the main energy source of the Industrial Revolution, and we had a lot!

  1. Replaces coal for heating homes

  2. Kerosene (from oil) replaces whale oil for lighting
    1. Gasoline (from oil) fuels industrial machines.

B Inventions

Inventors in the United States had an incredible burst of creative energy, creating thousands of important new inventions, some minor (the stapler, the corn flake), and others which forever changed the lives of people all over the world (the light bulb, the telephone.)

1) Patents = the exclusive right granted by a government to an inventor to manufacture

and sell an invention for a certain number of years.

a) Before 1860: 36,000

b) 1860 – 1900: 676,000!!!
2) Major inventions of the Industrial era included:

Matches, microphone, reaper, refrigerator, revolver, platform scales, grain elevator, rubber tire, safety pin, dishwasher, rayon, pasteurization, railroad sleeping car, washing machine, elevator, Machine Gun, dynamite, tin can, torpedo, typewriter, air brakes, traffic light, windmill, barbed wire, carpet sweeper, seismograph, metal detector, roll film, fountain pen, cash register, skyscraper, motorcycle, coca-cola, radar, contact lenses, drinking straws, escalator, zipper, motion picture, roller coaster, vacuum cleaner, air conditioner, polygraph, crayons, windshield wipers, tea bag, tractor, sonar, helicopter, cellophane, instant coffee, crossword puzzle, ecstasy, bra, gas mask…

And the big ones…

Light bulb, telephone, sewing machine, steel, airplane, radio, camera, internal combustion engine, car, plastic…

3) Why so many? Partly because steel and oil made many new inventions possible, but

also because invention in the manufacturing process made it cheaper and easier to

make things:

a) Interchangeable parts

b) Moving assembly line

4) Invention of railroads create “national markets” for goods….meaning you can

sell your goods to anybody in the nation.

a) Before Railroads: most manufacturing work was done in small workshops

that would distribute goods to the local area, or to the nearest city via dirt

roads and canals.

b) After Railroads: most manufacturing work is done in large factories that

distribute to national markets via the railroad system

Part 3: The Rise of Big Business during the IR


Invest: to give your money to a business who will use it to run their business. If they are

successful, they will return more money to you than you invested. If they are

not, you may get less money (or no money) returned to you.

Corporation: a large business that is co-owned (or “shared”) by many investors.

(thousands or even millions of investors, depending on the size of the corporation)

Stock: an investment in a corporation. One “share” of stock is considered one share of

ownership of that corporation.

Monopoly: a company that dominates an industry to the point where no other

companies can compete with them. With no competition, monopolies can

charge high prices for their product.

Consumer: purchaser of goods or services. Basically spending money on stuff!


A Corporations

During the Industrial Revolution, it cost a lot more to be in business:

  • You had to be able to make MORE stuff…in order to sell to the millions of potential customers in a national market. So, you needed BIG facilities with HUGE machines, assembly lines, workers…and then you had to SHIP your goods all over the country.

The problem was, no individual person had enough money saved up to start this kind of business. So how did people get into business during the IR? Enter corporations
1) Corporations raise money from thousands of people, who invest their personal

money in the corporation through buying shares of stock. This has two major


  1. A LOT of money can be raised to invest in a business

  2. The RISK (should that business fail) is spread out and shared by all the investors.

  3. WHY would an individual invest their money in a corporation?

2) Corporations practiced…

a) Horizontal Integration = eliminating all of the competitor companies

who make the same product your company does, through:

- Buy-outs…buying any companies that compete with you. GE/IDX

- Price Gouging…drop prices to drive competition out of business

- Unfair (or illegal) Business Practices… (MS Windows software bundles)

    1. Vertical Integration = controlling every stage of your production process from natural resources through the sale of the product. So, if you made baseball bats, you would own…

Then, when you sold a bat, ALL of the profits would stay within

your corporation.
3) Becoming Monopolies

a) GOOD for businesses…b/c they can charge higher prices and make

more money for their product with no competition.

b) BAD for consumers, who have to pay higher prices, often for goods and

services that are WORSE…because there is no competition forcing

them to constantly improve….

- What happens to a restaurant on Church Street (which is NOT a

monopoly, and has LOTS of competition) if they serve bad food?

- What happens to the post office (which is a monopoly) when the

mail comes late, or they raise the price of stamps?

c) So…is competition good or bad for consumers?

C Corporations were supported by the governments’ belief in “Laissez Faire”

Economics (which means “leave it alone” economics.). This is the belief that

business works best with no government regulation or intervention.
Things the government (today) regulates include:

  • Business Practices (how businesses treat each other)

  • Labor practices (how businesses treat their workers)

  • Environmental Pollution (how businesses treat the environment)

  • Product quality/safety standards (how businesses treat consumers)

So, given what is regulated today, which of the following groups would be in favor of Laissez Faire economics?

1) Corporations?

2) Consumers?
3) Workers?

  1. Environmental groups, or citizens who care about environmental health?

  1. Bonus: Politicians? (who receive huge campaign contributions from corporations, which helped them get elected…)

D Business leaders of the Industrial Revolution (topic covered in class activity)

Part 4: The American Worker in the Industrial Revolution

Until the industrial revolution, most manufacturing was done by individual artisans. A barrel was made by a “Cooper”, a stove was made by a “Blacksmith” and so on. During the Industrial Revolution, all that changed, as the typical job became working for a corporation, mass-producing goods in a factory setting.
A Impacts of factory work

1) Decline in skilled labor, rise in unskilled labor…which pays less.

2) Loss of “pride” in work (if you had been an artisan before)

3) Difficult working conditions in factories

a) Long hours: 6 days a week…12-13 hours per day

b) Unhealthy/dangerous working conditions

- Lack of adequate light

- Poor ventilation and air quality

- Dangerous machines

4) Huge increase in child labor (because parents wages were not enough)

5) Few benefits

a) No Vacation…paid or unpaid

b) No “workman’s compensation”…which is getting paid when you are

recovering from an injury on the job.

c) No sick or maternity leave

6) Few rights…can be fired for any reason and no laws prevent workplace

discrimination or harassment.
The larger point: During the IR, we learn that Corporations, if not prevented

from doing so, WILL mistreat their workers in order to increase

profits for their investors.
B So why would anyone work in a factory?

  1. For farm kids, it was their ticket to the city, and away from the boring farm.

  2. IF you could move from factory worker to manager, you could become rich.

  3. For people in cities, you NEED a job to meet your basic needs

  4. For recently arrived immigrants (no skills, can’t speak English, need money…), the factory was a way to get started.

  5. Once in a factory job (like sharecropping), many workers didn’t make enough money to get out!

C The Rise of Labor Unions

A Labor Union is an organization that workers pay money to join, and in return the union represents all members in negotiating a labor contract with their employers. The labor contract outlines the legal responsibilities of both workers and companies, including major things such as length of the work day/week, pay, benefits and worker rights. People joined labor unions during the I.R. because there was no government regulation of business (“laissez faire economics”), and companies treated workers very poorly. Workers felt unions might represent them better as a GROUP than they could represent themselves as individuals.
1) Define the following labor terms:

a) Strike:

b) Picket line:

c) Scab:

3) Overall…during this time-period, unions FAILED to get most of their demands

met. There are two main reasons for this:

a) The US Government sided with big business…helping businesses break

strikes and refusing to create new laws to protect workers.

b) Most unions excluded women, minorities and un-skilled workers. As a

result, only 1 out of every 33 American workers was unionized…leaving

them with less power than if they had all joined.

Part 5: The rise of our consumer culture during the Industrial Revolution

Before the Agrarian Era, Americans purchased most of their goods from individual artisans at their pushcarts or workshops, or in the general store. Because Americans had little cash, they had few goods that they did not make themselves.

During the I.R., mass-produced goods become so cheap that most Americans can afford them, even on a factory wage. For the first time in US history, we become a consumer culture: a nation that likes to buy things, and that likes to define ourselves by the things we have!

Americans shift to shopping at large chain department stores like Marshall Field, Wannamakers, Macy’s and Woolworth’s. These department stores attracted new customers with elaborate window displays and in advertisements in billboards, newspapers and magazines, as well as offering store credit cards for the first time.

Overall, Americans are convinced by the magic of advertisements, the atmosphere of the new stores and the wonder of new material goods that shopping is itself a recreational activity…that shopping is a joy!...and we have been doing it ever since!

Summary of the era
So, Overall, was the Industrial Revolution Worth it? That is up to you to decide. What we know is that the shift from agrarian to industrialized caused great change in many people’s lives. Overall, the average family income rose, but that figure is midleading, because it averages ALL Americans (imagine the “average” income in Jericho if Bill Gates lived there…), and it only measures income…not happiness, or job security, or health. At the end of the era we had MORE of some things, and FEWER of others, and EACH change has both positive and negative qualities…

MORE… transportation, communication, cities, corporations, rich people, poor people, sources of energy, building materials, jobs, factories, affordable goods, pollution, unions, unskilled jobs, immigrants, department stores, reliable light, children working.

FEWER… farmers, small businesses, artisans, skilled workers, Mom and Pop stores, wilderness, forests, clean water, clean air, canals, honest politicians.


What is life like in the new Post-Industrial Era?

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