The United States changed dramatically from 1865 to 1950. Many changes occurred in industrialization, foreign affairs, government, as well as in society and culture. The events that took place within this time period helped shape this country into what it is today.
Industrial development began with the railroad, with the help of Republican governments, who provided subsidies, loans and tax exemptions to railroad corporations. Over 52,000 miles of railroad were laid all over the nation between 1854 and 1879. Railroads stimulated growth. They required many resources to build, such as coal, wood, glass, rubber, and brass. Most importantly, the railroad connected the country.
Although small factories were already up and running three decades before the Civil War, it wasn’t until after the 1850’s that the industrial economy boomed. Larger factories that produced goods to sell nationally and internationally were being built. These factories transformed the United States from a farming nation into the most industrialized nation in the world.
There were advantages and disadvantages to this new industrial order. One disadvantage is the damage that industrialization did to the environment. Forests were cut to make way for big factories which, in some cases, left rivers, such as those in the Northeast, toxic. Another disadvantage was the working conditions. Industrial workers were overworked and underpaid. In 1890, an unskilled worker took home $1.50 for a ten hour work day. Children were exploited, working 60 hour work weeks and taking home a third of what an adult male made. African Americans faced an even greater challenge at work, discrimination at the workplace. They were given menial jobs and paid less than white workers. A major advantage brought on by industrialization was mass production, low-cost, well-made items became readily available for purchase by anyone. Industrialization changed the lives of the people of this nation. By the late nineteenth century, with advances in technology, communication, and transportation, a new type of industrialization was formed, a global one.
At the end of the nineteenth century an elite group containing Christian missionaries, intellectuals, business leaders, commercial farmers, and navy careerists, lobbied the White House, Congress, and the State and War departments for the United States to be more active abroad. In the 1880’s, Congress started a program to modernize the United States’ navy. With the improved navy, the country had what it took to turn into an imperial power.
Missionaries set out teach natives abroad the Western culture and convert them to Christianity. Entrepreneurs expanded their businesses overseas. The Singer Sewing Machine Company sent 60,000 representatives to China to try to sell their products. Minor Keith and his Tropical Fruit Company were building railroads in Costa Rica. Foreign investments flourished, while the depression of 1893 worsened at...