The Industrial Revolution

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This Industrial Revolution began in Britain in 1750 and in the coming years spread to America. Transportation and a factory system were essential to westward expansion and vital to economic development.

Infrastructure

Critical to the development of the national economy and the industrial society was an effective system of roads, canals, steamboats, and railroads. These major innovations of transportation had a significant impact on the expansion into western America. Short toll roads were built to connect most of the country’s major cities. The National Road opened up a reliable overland western route to Maryland. The benefits of road systems were great. However, the state’s outlawed using federal tax dollars to pay for road construction and repair. The steamboat was brought to America in 1807 and proved to be, prior to the railroad, the only effective form of transporting settlers and maintaining communication.

To make use of the steamboats, canals were built to join all of the major lakes to rivers which benefited the East with lower food prices and encouraged Westward expansion. In the 1820s, railroad tracks began to blanket America. The use of railroads more than all other means of commute proved vital for communication between cities and states, transportation of goods, and cheap passage. This contributed to westward expansion and caused cities such as Cleveland, Cincinnati, Detroit, and Chicago to blossom into commercial trade centers.

Factories

The factory system was effective in the economic development and transition from an agrarian society to an industrial society. The factory system did not originate in America but spread here from Britain. This system grew rapidly as it proved to be an efficient and profitable way of producing manufactured goods that people wanted.

In the New England states, the textile industry was booming with new developments. Cloth produced in the factories could be created much faster and cheaper than before. The price of clothes dropped dramatically, causing a new elegance to all the class systems in America. Factories created new job opportunities for people without a trade or skill. The factory system promoted the growth of cities along with the trade system in America causing it to grow significantly to an industrial society.

Previous to the Industrial Revolution most American’s lived and worked on small farms producing many of their own goods such as clothing, furniture, and food. Soon people began to move off of farms and into cities. With the shift to industrialization and the development of factory systems the gap between the poor and wealthy classes increased as many people working in the factories were coming into the economic benefits of trade.

Economic growth in the 1800s for America required technological advancements from the previous agrarian society existing. The development of new transportation systems such as the steamboat and the railroad impacted westward expansion and the movement of goods to new areas of the country. The institution of factory systems catalyzed the economic growth of the United States and provided a new industrial economy system. The Industrial Revolution had many benefits including new jobs formed, a sense of unity between trading states, an increase in foreign affairs due to trade, and the development of major cities.