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Change In Life From Antebellum To The New Deal

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Modern America can be considered one of the world's economic and industrial leaders. This didn't happen instantaneously. It was a long process that took centuries to occur from when America was first colonized by England. America started slow and far behind England and other European countries in the technology race but a diverse culture and the work ethic of American people all helped to push this country forward. From antebellum America in the 19th century, to the Progressive Era in the late 19th century and early 20th century, and finally to the New Deal period in the 20th century, many changes occurred as millions of people lives were affected greatly during this time. Throughout these eras in U.S. history, there was a general improvement in the lives of most Americans from the progression of economic life.

During the antebellum period, the United States was a predominantly pre-industrial society. There were very few factories open at this time. Most of the factory workers were from rural and village cultures. These jobs usually required no skill or knowledge and were quite simple to learn. Working conditions in factories were at its worst with extremely low pay, long workdays, and dangerous conditions.

Most workers remained as farmers and artisans. They devoted their lives to their work and were skilled at their jobs. Artisans usually worked closely with agrarians to make different products. Farmers worked the fields, growing crops and raising livestock. Their work would occasionally become easier from new tools made by artisans. Women during this time were housewives. They were doing everything at home. They took care of the children, the house, and the food for the family. Sometimes, life demanded that they work the fields with their husbands. Most women did not have jobs outside the home but a small number did work outside in factory jobs.

There was a great influx of immigrants at this time. Many of them worked at factories, usually taking the lowest paying positions available. Their different cultures and work habits often caused many problems because they were not accustomed to the American customs. Most of the immigrants chose to settle in American cities, where most jobs were located. As a result, the cities became extremely crowded. Housing in cities became a major problem from the large number of immigrants. Most of the immigrants did find jobs, although they often worked in jobs that most native-born Americans would not take. Over time, the immigrants were able to improve their own conditions through hard work and determination.

In the Progressive Era, there numerous reforms were made in an attempt to curb corruption in the government and industry. This occurred in the late 19th century and ended in the early 20th as American industry boomed. Slowly, America was being recognized as one of the industrial leaders in the world. The immigrants that came during the antebellum period to the Progressive Era gave cities a large and cheap labor. They only needed a way to utilize all of it efficiently. When the assembly line was devised, there was a huge boom in factories. The large number of immigrants caused factory owners to focus on profits and disregard to working conditions. This gave birth to the Progressive Era, when many social and political groups, called the Progressives, tried to reform both the factories and the government.

For factory workers, their working conditions were usually dangerous, which resulted in high accident rates. They worked twelve hours six days a week. Factory workers had little rights. Because of the surplus in workers, factory owners could easily replace injured, dead, or disobedient workers. So Progressives advocated on better conditions. They pushed for an eight-hour workday, a ban on child labor, and government regulation of working conditions. Slowly, skilled artisans and factory workers alike found themselves replaced by machinery. Because it was so hard to keep a steady job, workers often joined unions, which were illegal at the time. Near the end of the Progressive Era, reformists were able to secure an eight-hour workday and the legalization of unions, although the ban on child labor was consistently being challenged by the courts.

For American farmers, this was hard time indeed. With competition among markets and big businesses, the demand and value of crops began to fall. New technology also increased crop yields for those who could afford it. This was especially hard for farmers as this was their source of income and only means to support their families. The growth of trusts, especially railroad trusts, further hurt small farmers because they raised prices and offered enormous discounts to large farmers. Not only was there a decrease in demand, but small farmers also had to pay ridiculous fees to transport their goods to markets.

Women at this time not only worked to gain the right to vote, but for equality and social reforms

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