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Industrialization in the United States changed the entire economy. Everything was growing rapidly with people and new inventions. Some of the major industries with new inventions were railroads, oil, cotton and steel. Each industry had a great impact on United States. Railroads made it possible to travel across the country as well as ship products. Oil became very important with its many discoveries of uses. Cotton was the main industry in the South and production increased with the invention of the cotton gin. When steel was invented from iron, people were able to built better bridges, buildings and railroad tracks. The rapid growth of these industries during the Industrial Revolution has re-shaped America.


The mid 1800's to the early 1900's were the beginning of the Industrial Revolution. Life in the United States was chaotic and unpredictable. Everyone had their own ideas and the possibilities were endless. Everything was new and undiscovered. Americans were anxious to reap the benefits that industrialization brought to the United States. A turning point in American history was the invention of railroads, oil refineries, cotton factories, and steel. The world had forever changed when American learned to use these major industries to their advantage. Suddenly, it did not take months to get from point A to point B. Rockefeller would soon change the oil industry, finding many undiscovered uses for oil. The cotton industry became lucrative as textile mills began flourishing. In 1873, Andrew Carnegie founded the Carnegie Steel Company. He was one of the most recognized names in the world since the use of steel would become extremely useful in industry and everyday life.

When the railroads first became popular, anyone who wanted a railroad and had the money would build a railroad. If cattle farmers in Austin, Texas, needed to get their cattle from Austin to Amarillo, they would build a railroad. Tracks were not interconnected and were not usable by anyone else for any other purpose. When everyone finished building their own railroad, for their own use, they did not interconnect with each other. The railroads were all different sizes. The landscape of America looked like a tangled mess that had no order with so many different railroads.

The Transcontinental railroad was a new beginning for industrialism. The possibility of a railroad leading to the Pacific Ocean pondered for many years and even discussed by congress. According to History of Railroads and maps, "Chief promoter of a transcontinental railroad was Asa Whitney, a New York merchant active in the China trade who was obsessed with the idea of a railroad to the Pacific." His idea was that immigrant workers could build the railroad and that they should be paid in land. The immigrants would settle along the railroad and become patrons of the completed line. When he suggested this idea to Congress, they dismissed it. However, the discovery of gold and the success of the eastern railroads peaked people's interest in building a railroad even more. In 1853, Congress allotted $150,000 for finding a feasible route for the railroad and work began shortly thereafter. The Virtual Museum of the City of San Francisco asserts that, "Leland Stanford, Collis P. Huntington, Charles Crocker and Mark Hopkins were the "Big Four" that conceived this enterprise and brought it to a successful ending after years of daily struggle that would have exhausted the patience and spirit of ordinary men" ("Driving the Last Spike", 1925).

When the Transcontinental railroad was being formed, American had no idea of the impact that it would have on the economy. The new railroad was formed as a way to get from the east coast to the west coat, but it did not take long before railroads were used for more than transportation. It was used to haul everything such as cattle, foods, oil, and iron. A trip from the West coast to the East coast that once took six months, only took six days on the new railroad. The railroad was not the only industry changing during this time period.

Coal was the main energy source of industry before the discovery of oil. This continued for decades and it seemed as though nothing could diminish the importance of coal until after World War I, when fuel petroleum was developed. It was a tough battle against powerful coal lobbyists, but it soon became obvious that changing from coal to cleaner burning fuel was more beneficial than the political clout of the coal lobbyists.

Oil, steel, and electricity soon began to rule during this period and were greatly influenced by the development of the Transcontinental Railroad. John D. Rockefeller created the South Improvement Co. in 1872, forming a union between Standard Oil and smaller refineries in Cleveland. Standard Oil was using the railroads to transport large amounts of cargo on a daily basis. The railroads reached an agreement with Rockefeller to set high freight rates and offer rebates to members of South Improvement Company. Competition between railroad companies was eliminated and many small refineries were forced out of business. As a result of three months of public protest, the railroads and Standard Oil cancelled their arrangement. By then, most of the competitors in Cleveland had already sold out to Standard Oil, giving it a 90% share of the refineries in the U.S.

In the mid 1800's the main thing that oil was used for was kerosene, and the rest of it was basically waste, until John D. Rockefeller came along. He found a use for every part of the oil. Crude oil was distilled to provide lubricants to grease and oil the machines used in industry. John Rockefeller founded Standard Oil and dominated the industry when he bought up most of the smaller refineries until he controlled 90% of the oil refining business in the U.S. After the 1876 invention of a practical internal combustion engine, which burned gasoline inside of it, oil started to be used for many things including automobiles, and the synthetic rubber used to make the tires on them.

Oil has come to be the most important commodity of modern times. It has become the major source of energy for industry from generating electricity to run machines, and fuel for transporting goods to consumers. Oil and its byproducts are used in our daily lives including medicine, make-up, detergents used to wash our dishes, and the material in the clothes we wear. Not only is oil used in manufacturing these products, but also in the agriculture industry for fertilizers and pesticides. Industry is the catalyst for development and growth, and it is fueled by oil. To this point in time industrial progress depends on a continuous supply of oil, and the demand is increasing daily.



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