HIS204: American History Since 1865
Instructor: Megan Ellinge
Out of isolation through Technology
Technologies introduced in the 1800’s and developed through the 1900’s have allowed people to communicate over vast distances in a matter of minutes, as well as allow people to travel at unheard of rates for the time. Technology has also allowed people to unite different cultures and people at a rapidly fast rate which would not have happened without it. Technology was and still is a major contributor to ending the physical and intellectual isolation of America. This paper will show how technologies such as railroad systems, telegraphs, harnessing of electricity internet and more have not only taken America out of isolation but also placed it as a world power. First and foremost it must be said that industrial organization allowed for increased production there by giving way for the births of new technological innovation. These new and improved methods of production in themselves can be considered a new technology in their own right. An example of this can be seen in the assembly line. No longer in an artisan crafting an article of trade, but now an entire building could be staffed in sections where each section has a specific part to play in the production of that article of trade. We can see this type of production occur in the automotive vehicle or the car. This new way of thinking and doing is called the industrial revolution and drastically opened up new doors for relationships with other counties that wanted to trade; now all that was needed was a faster way to travel and communicate (NWE, 2012).
In 1812 an American cornel by the name of John Stevens publishes a pamphlet that outlines; "Documents tending to prove the superior advantages of Railways and Steam Carriages over Canal Navigation." Furthermore he articulates, "I can see nothing to hinder a steam carriage moving on its ways with a velocity of 100 miles an hour" (Houk, 2008). This was just the start to showing other the enormous advantage of railroads. Nevertheless the first successful commercial and passenger railroad system did not appear until 1830, fabricated at the West Point Foundry at New York for the Charlston & Hamburg Railroad (Houk, 2008). It is the newly founded rail way system to be built that will allow people and commodities to be shipped across land at unparalleled speeds.
With people and commodities traveling across land at speeds that had never been seen industrial infrastructure could be erected quicker than ever before. Timber fields of the great American forest could be cut down and shipped out and delivered to construction yards within days rather than months. Important government officials could take a short trip by train to discuss policies, instead of making a journey by horse and carriage. The technology of railways brought the individual states of America out of isolation from each other in order to form a stronger unified country. Faster communication was the next step out of isolation and forward to stronger unification. The first tangible telegraph was constructed by Samuel F. B. Morse in 1836. However, it was not until May 24, 1844 that Morse demonstrated for the US government the power of the telegraph, sending a message saying; "What hath God wrought!", from the U.S. Supreme Court Chambers in Washington to a colleague in Baltimore (HW, 2012). By the 1860’s the east coast was crisscrossed with telegraph lines allowing information to be exchange in minutes instead of days or weeks. This new technology not only changes America but also the world. Before the telegraph, business and politics were restricted to geography keeping certain nation like America in isolation. Authors Charles F. Briggs and Augustus Maverick wrote the following about the telegraph; "Tomorrow the hearts of the civilized world will beat in a single pulse, and from that time forth