From Reconstruction to widespread industrialization, this paper will look at major events that formed the Western United States.
Two major turning points during this period were Reconstruction and Industrialization. The end of the Civil War in 1865 brought Reconstruction to the South or so it would seem. From 1865 to 1877, when then President Hayes removed the last Union troops from the South and officially declared the end of Reconstruction, it was attempted without much results. Even before the war’s end, Lincoln was already thinking about how to bring the South back into the fold. In 1863, Lincoln issued his Ten-Percent Plan, which offered amnesty to any southerner who proclaimed loyalty to the union and support of the emancipation of slaves (Shultz, 2012).
Reconstruction did little in the end to help the ex-slaves. While it did bring them some rights, most of those were eventually taken away. Lincoln wanted equality for the freed men, women and families, which they probably could have attained easier had Lincoln not been assassinated. Even with the back and forth of Reconstruction at least in the end it did have some significant achievements, including two new constitutional amendments, the passage of the nation’s first civil rights law and the abolition of slavery (Shultz, 2012).
Industrialization helped to mold America into the super power she is today. This trip, however, would decrease the ground African Americans had gained at the beginning and through parts of Reconstruction and without regulations leave a path of corruption in its wake. The entrepreneurs of the period wanted more and more profits and cheaper and cheaper labor and the manner in which they achieved these things only fueled the division of the social spectrum. The gaps between rich and poor, immigrant and native, black and white grew larger.
As in most things, one must take the good with the bad and industrialization was no different. Imagine if you can what the United States would be like today without the Industrial Revolution. We would probably still resemble the thirteen original colonies. The railroads played a major role in expansion from the north to the south and to the west. The production of steel helped to build new buildings taller than before and was used in the production of machinery that made the manufacturing of certain goods easier and faster. During this era there were some major inventions, the telephone, the typewriter, the steam turbine, the four stroke engine and the light bulb to name a few.
With industrialization came urbanization, which made cities crowded and lead to poor living and working conditions. Most of the population lived in rural areas until the prospect of better living conditions; better jobs and new technologies spurred people to move to the cities. Many immigrants lived in the cities as well to be close to their workplace. Until the middle of the 19th century, the center of the city was the most fashionable place to live. Merchants, lawyers and manufacturers built substantial townhouses on the main thoroughfares within walking distance of the docks, warehouses, offices, courts and shops where they worked (Urbanization).
Other individuals, however, lived in tenement housing that was inferiorly built. Adequate plumbing was virtually nonexistent, and few pre-1900 workers’ houses had an indoor water supply; most shared pumps and wells in back alleys (Shultz, 2012). Primitive sewers and so many people living in such close quarters lead to disease and rough neighborhoods. So many people also lead to lower wages and the long workdays could hardly be complained about, as there were ample replacements if an employer felt you were dissatisfied. The factories were unsafe and the workdays so long and grueling, that many workers died each year. Between 1880 and 1900 an average of 35,000 workers died each year (Shultz, 2012).
A long-standing problem in the nation from