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Geography's And Industrial Revoultion

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Geography's role in the Industrial Revolution

Geographically the United States is a vary diverse landscape that effected America's ability to industrialize. The geographic features of a country will control the need for it to industrialize, less land means less opportunity to farm. This geographic fact will also control the rate of development; less land means a need for faster industrialization. It is this diversity and abundance of land that controlled the economic and social development of America's Industrial Revolution.

When the country was founded, the geography was a bigger obstacle than it is today. Before the Industrial Revolution, the primary way to move anything was on water. Rivers and Oceans were the original roads and the fastest and least expensive way to move goods. Most of the population "[was] located either at tidewater or along broad, navigable streams that could not be used to produce much water power" (Nye 44). These geographic features made it possible to move items to areas further away from the coast. Moving things one of the three modes of land transport, "by foot, on a horse, or in a wheeled vehicle" (Cowan 94) were too expensive and difficult with no developed roads. People began to look for ways to make this travel more affordable by creating waterways like the Eire canal to connect places. However, most were unsuccessful and the idea passed. Steam engines also made river travel more feasible. It was not difficult to take a barge full of goods down river; however, it would take months to pole the boat back upriver and usually was not even attempted.

As technologies like steam developed industrialization was able to make use of the geography of the country. There was plenty of cheap land for farming so "American skilled workers tended to be both scarce and expensive" (Cowan 90) and it was necessary for people to create more efficient ways to work. Inventors created machines and methods that would require fewer people or people with fewer skills to compensate for the reduced labor force. This land rich environment lead to a working class that was for the most part transient. Men worked for a short time to make money to start up farms or businesses of their own. Women worked in factories to earn money to send home before they married and raised families. The American worker did not think of themselves as a permanent fixture in the factories, only as transient participant to earn what they need to move on to the next stages of their lives.

American geography also played a role in the amount of time it took for cities to become industrialized. With so much land factories could be located in rural areas where waterpower was easily available. Observers see that "towns were dispersed along the watercourses; lumber, tools, paper, textiles, and other manufactured goods were produced along rural streams" (Nye 71).This meant fewer factories crowded into already populated areas. American workers were able to go to these factories that were spread out and it took much longer for the urban areas to develop as they had in Europe. The limited space in Europe caused factories to build closely packed and the lack of land in general drove more people to the factories to work. It is important to point out that factories did not spread out without limitations. Most were clustered in some way to the break in bulk points where rivers followed swiftly and eventually Americas Industrialized cities began to look like other industrialized cities around the world.




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