Essay Example: The Development of the American Economy

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Carnegie Mellon University
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After the Civil War in the United States of America, there was a need for the development of numerous industries which would facilitate the development of agricultural and mining activities. Problems had been faced with the first industrial revolution which slowed down the entire process. However, after the Civil War, the social problems affecting the industrial revolution were minimized, and as a result, several industries emerged (Page & Walker, 1991). Some of the famous industries during this period included; road, agricultural and mining industries (Page & Walker, 1991). The agricultural industries dealt with numerous products such as wheat, corn and cotton products. The most convenient method of transportation of these commodities was through the Mississippi river (Hindle & Lubar, 2000). As a result, transportation industries such as steamboats were developed to enable the transportation. The products were transported between the regions of New York and Midwest (Hindle & Lubar, 2000). Mining industry dealt with gold products which were mainly transported through the rail. In 1860, rail industry was the most famous transportation system that existed in the United States of America (Hindle & Lubar, 2000). Though steamboats were being used during this period, rail was in demand due to its ability to transport many products.

By 1900, America was becoming one of the most powerful nations globally regarding industrial development (Page & Walker, 1991). Most of the industries in this country were being directed by intelligent leaders who would not tolerate failure. One of the major factors that made the leaders of the industries successful was their ability to divide labor accordingly (Page & Walker, 1991). In the South, most of the industries dealt with agricultural products especially cotton. Between the period 1815-1820, cotton had become the most valuable agricultural product in America (Hindle & Lubar, 2000). While the South focused on producing cotton, leaders in the North paid more attention to transportation industries which connected both the North and the South. As a result, the flow of products was made possible between the two regions. President Lincoln was one of the major personalities who ensured that development of industries was successful in America. His approval of Railway Act in the Pacific made sure that industries such as mining, Iron and agricultural industries were successful in America due to the proper transportation system.

Labor Unions emerged in the eighteenth century in America during the period of industrial revolution. During this period, new workers were developing in this nation, and there was an increasing demand to protect their rights (Abrahamson, 1997). Labor Unions are believed to have introduced independence in the United States due to their contributions. American Federation of Labor (AFL) was the first labor union to be introduced in this country (Abrahamson, 1997). Its emergence between 1885-1890 ensured that 1.5 million workers were guaranteed of their rights. AFL formed the basis of other unions which would be introduced later on in the 20th century (Abrahamson, 1997). The significant role that AFL played as the first labor union in the United States was to negotiate the rise of wages for its members. Samuel Gompers was associated with the emergence of AFL (Abrahamson, 1997).

One of the significant accomplishments of labor unions in the United States was the successful negotiations of its members salaries. The working conditions were difficult during this period, and an increase in wages provided to members of AFL was requested (Abrahamson, 1997). Working hours were also improved due to the efforts of labor unions. Efforts were made to the extent that working hours matched the salary provided. Working conditions were also improved due to the efforts of these unions (Abrahamson, 1997).



Abrahamson, E. (1997). The emergence and prevalence of employee management rhetorics: The effects of long waves, labor unions, and turnover, 1875 to 1992. Academy of Management Journal, 40(3), 491-533.

Hindle, B., & Lubar, S. D. (2000). Engines of Change: The American industrial revolution, 1790-1860 (p. 96). Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution Press.

Page, B., & Walker, R. (1991). From settlement to Fordism: The agro-industrial revolution in the American Midwest. Economic Geography, 67(4), 281-315.


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