The growth in large-scale industry and labor unions in the second half of the nineteenth century can be explained in many ways. Unlike earlier in the century, now there were broad markets, fast expansion in good economic times, thus causing a rise in demand for more goods. Additionally, new inventions with development in big business caused large scale industrialization to become possible. Lastly, companies” ability to employ mass numbers of people to work in their factories for cheap further encouraged industries” growth. With companies hiring people to do hard work for cheap, labor unions form. Generally, as industries grew and grew the working conditions for the workers got worse and worse, encouraging an increase and growth of labor unions.
America was a growing country. The expansion west needed industrial recourses. The railroad itself encouraged the industries of steel, coal, wood, glass and rubber. The expansion west was not the only thing that encouraged the growth of industry, good economic times and a rise in population fueled the growth of industry. People would want more “stuff” and houses would need to be built as well as highrise buildings in urban centers to accommodate the density of people in the cities. All these factors caused a rise in demand for industrial goods in a large market. There is more reason, though, that large-scale industries were growing.
New inventions helped a great deal in making the large-scale manufacturing of industrial goods possible. The Bessemer process, for example, helped the manufacturing of steel in the steel industry, made it possible to produce large quantities of steel in a relatively short period of time. The invention of electric power by Thomas Edison allowed factory machinery to be run by electricity, cutting the cost of employing people to run the machinery while increasing the productivity of the machines. Always increasing productivity, these inventions and others like it were essential to progression of big industry. these were harnessed and effectively put into use by big businesses.
Big businesses were the economic powers behind the growth of their industries. With corporations, unlike earlier, businesses could outlive their founders so that they could be allowed to thrive without having to worry and the death of the founder because with shares in the stock market, people could own parts of the company, there was never one person who was the sole owner. Additionally, in the late nineteenth century, there weren”t regulations which allowed the businesses to grow in ways which it wouldn”t be allowed to grow today. Often times, vertical integration allowed several types of industries to be grouped under one big company thus securing their operation. All these things helped the businesses prosper. Since the big businesses were behind the large-scale industries, the industries prospered too.
Essential to the growth of large scale industry are the workers. Between 1870 and 1890, 8 million immigrants came to America for a better life, they ended up working in factories. Unlike the native workers, the immigrants were willing to work for cheap. This let the industry cut the cost of employing workers, in fact, many industries went to European sources to find workers for more cheap labor. The native Americans who, generally, were driven from the countryside got the higher paying supervisory jobs in the industries. So this “pool” of labor further allowed the large scale industries to grow more.
The working conditions in these industries were horrible. Cutting costs in an industry was a big deal. Unfortunately, most of the time, cutting costs meant long hours for the workers, lower wages and requirements on the amount of work you do in a day which was usually too much. Because of these bad conditions labor unions were formed to protest against them, but mostly to force the companies to higher wages, lower hours or better working conditions. Since workers were essential to the operation of the industries, the labor unions often organized strikes to demand change in wage, hours etc… In 1877 when wages for the workers in the Baltimore and Ohio railroad were cut by 20% there was the first nationwide strike that set the path for an era of confrontation between labor unions and management. Often, federal troops and state militia intervened because the strikes got violent and the movement collapsed but sometimes strikes were successful.
The industrial revolution between 1865 and 1900 set a period of economic growth. The success of this industrial growth was due to a combination of contributing factors. A rise in demand for industrial goods along with growth in big business were the essential things in causing the growth of large-scale industry. Additionally new inventions that helped the manufacturing of these goods and cheap labor encouraged further this growth. In the big picture, this industrialization of the country fueled the growth of it in area, in population and finally, in economy.
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