Many people see history as a set of facts, or as a collection of stories. The reality, however, is that history is a fluid timeline. Each act of an individual or a group has an effect on others. Each moment in history is a building block that, good or bad, contributes to the stability of the next. This can be seen clearly in American history, as there have been several developments since the 1800’s that have played major roles on the growth of the nation.
The mid 19th century was an age of growth like no other. The term “Industrial Revolution” refers to the time period where production changed from homemade goods, to those produced by machines and factories. As industrial growth developed and cities grew, the work done by men and women diverged from the old agricultural life. People tended to leave home to work in the new factories being built. They worked in dangerous conditions, were paid low wages, and lacked job security (Kellogg). It is difficult to argue, however, that the economic development of the United States was not greatly dependent on the industrial revolution.
The first key player in the American industrial revolution was Francis Cabot Lowell. In 1810, in Waltham, Massachusetts, Lowell was responsible for building the first American factory for converting raw cotton into finished cloth. Large factories were built along the river to house the new water driven power looms for weaving textiles. At the same time that more factories were built to keep up with the growing demands of the consumer, the numbers of immigrants to the United States grew (Kellogg). This new labor force could be employed with even less pay and provided with a much lower standard of housing. This in turn increased the profit margin of the factory owner. The effects of the industrial revolution contributed to distinctive class divisions of poor, middle class, and wealthy. The industrial revolution truly changed American society and economy into a modern urban-industrial state.
By the 1880’s, the American industrial revolution was in full swing. Many American leaders had become convinced that the United States should join the imperialist powers and establish colonies overseas. Through the belief of manifest destiny, the U.S. border had already been pushed to the Pacific Ocean. Many citizens also believed that overseas expansion was vital to maintaining the American spirit. Economics caused American expansionism during the period of 1898-1919 through their thirst for new markets, foreign trade and desire for military strength.
Advances in technology allowed American farms and factories to produce more than American citizens were able to consume, otherwise known as over-production. Powerful business and political figures like James G. Blaine believed that foreign markets were essential to further economic growth, which then promoted a more aggressive foreign policy. Raw materials for their factories and new markets for its agricultural and...