David WillmoreAP US - Pd. 53 January 2011
Although some economists place the industrial "take-off" of America in the years before the CivilWar, it was in the three decades following that great conflict that the United States became theworld's leading industrial power. A fortunate combination of sufficient raw materials, adequatelabor, enviable technological accomplishments, effective business leadership, nationwidemarkets, and supportive state and national governments boosted America past its internationalrivals. The industrial transformation had a profound impact on the lives of the millions of workers who made the production revolution possible. Some who were distrustful of industrialpower turned toward socialism; others tried to organize workers into powerful unions. But, inthese early years of industrial conflict, the forces of business usually triumphed.
Points for Discussion:
1. How did the half-dozen main factors combine to produce America's impressive rise toindustrial supremacy?2. Which inventions of the late nineteenth century had the greatest impact on industry andurban life?3. Both the success-oriented novels of Horatio Alger and the utopian works of Edward Bellamy were best-sellers in late-nineteenth-century America. What might explain this paradox of Americans' wanting to read about both how great their country was and how greatly itneeded to improve?4. Describe the evolution of the modern corporation in this era and its role in promotingindustrial expansion.5. The so-called robber barons both praised unfettered free enterprise and tried to eliminatecompetition. How can these apparently conflicting positions be reconciled?6. What philosophies of the late nineteenth century allowed industrial tycoons to rationalizetheir methods and powers?7. Analyze the criticisms made of "laissez-faire" capitalism by some Americans of the latenineteenth century. Of the alternative visions suggested for America's economic future,which was the "best" and why?8. In what ways was the experience of industrialization a mixed blessing for the Americanworker? Describe the changes of the late nineteenth century in the nature of the workforceand conditions of the workplace.9. Describe the various attempts made during the late nineteenth century to create a nationallabor organization. Analyze the successes and failures of these individual organizations, aswell as the overall weaknesses of the American labor movement at this time.10. Explain how the railroad became a symbol of progress in America.
1. How various factors (raw materials, labor supply, technology, business organization,growing markets, and friendly governments) combined to thrust the United States intoworldwide industrial leadership.2. How this explosion of industrial capitalism was both extolled for its accomplishments andattacked for its excesses.3. How American workers, who on the average benefited, reacted to the physical andpsychological realities of the new economic order.