How did the United States become a Mature Industrial Society

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How did the United States become a mature industrial society in the decades after the Civil War?(Chap.16) In a newly founded, growing country the rise of industry was inevitable. However, the United States became flexible allowing for the growth that ultimately led to maturity needed to become a successful industrial society. First, with an aggressive expansion the United States was connected from coast to coast by railroad reducing turn-around time for receiving materials and shipping products. As industries expanded and reached new heights, various groups sprung up to keep peace for both an employer and laborer. Both the Knights of Labor to politicians financed by industry leaders were directed towards the path of industrial enlightenment, taking on the role of “Social Darwinism,” adapting to a new American dream and the ability to find work and wealth if so desired. Politically, it was the rise of the Republican Party that sided with laborers in passing bills that attempted to make fair working conditions. Both sides soon realized that their voices were strong enough to make changes in the government to aid their side in getting reparations to quell dissention and anxiety.

How effective was the political system of the Glided Age?(Chap.16)  The effectiveness of the political system (as it is today) depends largely on whom you talk to and which year you  look at. There were obvious ups and downs, but generally the system was close to perfect for what it had to accomplish. With so much strife and turmoil surrounding the labor industry there was a string of one-term presidents, as each side grappled for control to sway the government into siding with them. Labor unions became huge lobbyists for labor reforms, while industry leaders were after more conservative political allies designed to not rock the boat. Many great labor laws were passed while the government put various institutions in place to keep peace after the Great Railroad Strike, the first national labor walkout that crippled the country as the lines stood still. With all of this going on it was indeed a tumultuous time in America, but soon paved the way for the industrial domination that would catapult the United States into the role of world leader.

How did reformers of the period approach problems of the industrial society? (Chap.16) Reformers approached problems by forming various labor unions, notably the Knights of Labor, meeting every problem head on. Beginning with the Great Railroad Strike the Knights utilized their number in sending a stern message to the nation, that without laborers there was no industry and then they quickly advanced their newfound power into the political arena pushing to elect people that would assist in the advancement of their cause. “The Knights were the first group to try and organize unskilled laborers as well as skilled, women as well as men, and blacks as well as whites.” Their number quickly grew as they had control over millions of workers to use in strikes, boycotts, political actions, as well as education and social activities. (p. 589) They quickly realized that there was an amazing amount of strength in number.

Why was the city such a central element in progressive America? The city was a central element, because that is where many opportunities lied. People flocked to cities in an attempt to find work, jobs were abundant and everything was in close proximity with plenty to do. Then as cities exploded with laborers, there was a new rush of artists and those with political aspirations. The biggest city was New York, because it did not only offer a plethora of employment, but  for artists, also an array of topics for novels, paintings, photography and music. A widespread belief was that if you were going to succeed you needed to be in a city. In the early 1900’s the United States claimed 50 cities, the population of which exceeded 100,000 people with New York being the largest with 4.7 million people (p. 641). Cities were created by the industry that drove it.

In what ways did progressivism include both democratic and anti-democratic impulses? Democratically progressivism was transformed into a different form, as women began to infuse themselves into the political structure governing this era, from Jane Addams who took on the plight of poor immigrants and their working conditions, women’s’ groups in Alabama who passed the state law in 1903 restricting child labor, Julia Lathrop who became the first woman to head a federal agency (the Children’s Bureau established in 1912 to investigate conditions of mothers and children and to advocate their interests), and Florence Kelley who went on to mobilize women’s power as a force for social changes. (p. 665-666)  Anti-democratically progressivism was still the bane of the blacks in the south. While women moved forward, the southern blacks were disenfranchised and left with no say in any political matters. The southern progressives used reasoning, such as election fraud, to keep the rights of the blacks limited and useless. To make the city government more “honest and efficient” many municipalities appointed city managers instead of publicly elected officials. They then decided to have tests to decide the person’s right to vote, which eliminated the voting rights of the poor, both the blacks and the whites, because literacy was a voting requirement. Overall, progressivism did much to advance the nation hampering the poor, immigrants, and southern blacks.

How did progressive presidents foster the rise of the nation-state? Progressive presidents didn’t foster so much the rise of the nation-state as they forced it. With aggressive approaches to their vision of the future, Roosevelt, Taft and Wilson reshaped the American landscape, the business scene, and the American economy. Roosevelt went after the trusts built by the powerful magnate J.P. Morgan (whom all other Presidents had sided with) and separated them into individual companies. Then he established the first concerted effort by the government to enforce conservationism in American national parks and forests. Taft, while considered more conservative than Roosevelt, became more aggressive in anti-trust litigation dismembering John D. Rockefeller’s Standard Oil Company, convincing the Supreme Court to split into separate entities. However, as he encroached on the federal land authorized by Roosevelt, he offended the Republican Party prompting Roosevelt to run again in 1912. Wilson, the winner in 1912, took the work of his predecessors establishing the Underwood Tariff, the Clayton Act, the Keating Owen Act, the Adamson Act, and the Warehouse Act, which raised taxes on the richest 5%, exempted labor unions from anti-trust laws, outlawed child labor, created an eight-hour workday on the railroad, and extended credit to farmers for storing crops in federally licensed warehouses. However, the downside to this progressive outburst came in the form of an expanded role of the government.

How did the United States get involved in the World War 1? The United States entered the World War I because of the increased aggression of the Germans. German submarines sunk several U.S. merchant ships and then attempted to enlist Mexico in a war against the United States. Viewed as a world power, the Germans felt they couldn’t just wait for the U.S. to act. When President Wilson took his war declaration to the Congress, it was passed by resounding 373-50 votes. While he successfully attempted to keep the nation out of the war, Wilson was challenged often by the aggressiveness of the Germans.

How did the United States mobilize resources for the war effort? The Fourteen Points by President Wilson a manifest on his reasoning, describes the involvement in the war. In it, he pushed agendas of open diplomacy, freedom of the sea free trade, and others. With this purpose he was able to sway the public to his agenda. He then instituted the Selective Service Act, which put 24 million men into possible active duty. His army grew from 120,000 to over 5 million men making the U.S, military a true world power. The IWW and the Socialist party quickly scoffed at the U.S. involvement in this war. The Socialists decreed it as a “crime against the people of the United States”(p. 692). Wilson responded with the CPI (Committee on Public Information) and immediately flooded the country with his pro-war propaganda. He was able to sway masses through this unrelenting assault. He then offered “Liberty Bonds” for sale to raise money for the war effort, and it became a very democratic and patriotic thing to do. His propaganda convinced the nation that supporting this war effort was the American thing to do and it worked.

Why was 1919 such a watershed year for the United States and the world? As the war ended, the world became divided into Democracy and Communism. Many communist nations arose from the dust of the civil war in Russia, while workers everywhere longed for the freedom claimed by the U.S. propaganda. The largest labor strike happened in the U.S. in the steel industry as immigrant workers demanded freedom and equality promised with their purchase of “Liberty Bonds” that funded the war effort. Every nation that fought in the World War I experienced upheaval in their own countries, all created by the rhetoric used to create nationalism that fueled the war. Over fears of more strikes, like those of the steel strike, the U.S. Government raided radical and labor offices across the country arresting and deporting many immigrants. The war that was supposed to ensure freedom and liberty instead garnered paranoia and anxiety. With the short lived Russian democracy turning to communism, everyone in the world was forced to take sides leaving no one with the sense of liberty or freedom.

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