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Economic History of USA (1866-1920)

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Between 1866 and 1920, United States of America became the world’s leading industrial economy producing almost a third of the world’s industrial produce. The rapid economic development following the civil war that ended in the year 1965 laid the groundwork for the modern U.S industrial economy .The main causes were a large and elaborate agricultural sector, development in transportation, vast mineral resources and entrepreneurial spirit of the American citizens. For instance in 1890, United States of America was far ahead of Britain for the first place in manufacturing output. The economic development was facilitated by new discoveries and inventions that took place. Among the people who contributed immensely during this period include Hennery Ford and Fredrick Taylor. Hennery Ford pioneered mass-production in 1910 while Fredrick Taylor contributed to the field of workers management.

The Agricultural sector was the backbone of America’s economy during this period. The booming agricultural economy created endless need for farm labor. For instance, in California agriculture was dominated by large scale industrial farming employing huge number of migratory workers from Europe, Asian and other parts of the world. Some of the ethnic groups that formed large part of workforce in the plantations include the Native American, Chinese, Japanese, Hindustanis, Filipinos and Mexicans. However many of this workers suffered the worst conditions of any labor sector in United States. They worked more than 16 hours a day in the sun earning extremely low wages and poor housing conditions. This facilitated the first agricultural strike in 1905 by the Japanese and Mexican laborers in the sugar plantations.

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Development of rail transport made a decisive impact into the U.S economy. Railroad opened up remote areas, reducing the cost of moving freight and passengers as well as stimulating the growth of new industries such as steel. In between 1866-1873, rail transport made possible the transition to urban industries cities with high finance and advanced managerial skills. Likewise, rail transport revolutionized modern methods of running large scale business operations. The improvement of rail transport opened up new markets attracting new domestic and European private investors.

Vast mineral resources in American were responsible for rapid industrialization. Coal was in plenty in the Appalachian mountain from Pennsylvania south to Kentucky. Oil was discovered in western pennsylvia and it was mainly used for lubricating and lighting lamps. There were large Iron ore mines in the Lake Superior region of upper Midwest. Steel mill industries open up at places where this coal and iron where mined. Other minerals that were there in abundant included copper, silver and cement that all together provided useful ingredients in economic development to United States. Both copper and silver were used as electrical appliances while cement was used in the housing industry.

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The rapid economic development of America seen in between 1866-1920 can largely be contributed to many factors. Availability of vast farming land, minerals, development of rail transport, and supportive political, legal and ready market for both industrial and farming produce gave America advantage over other nations. Globally, mining, agriculture and industrialization have resulted to equal creation of wealth. For instance, petroleum has been the main source of wealth in countries such as Saudi Arabia and Iran. Many developed countries in Europe and parts of Asia have modernized farming and improved industrial technology. This has resulted to gradual increase in global economic development hence making life better for mankind.

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