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The integration of social reforms in socio-economic and political institutions was marked by the increased radicalization of American civil society in 1865-1920. During the radicalization process, a massive conservation of relevant ideologies was exercised to retain norms including traditionalism, racism, classism, and slavery. The central purpose of this paper is to show how the American Industrial Revolution (1865-1820) was fundamental in bringing hope to the once-shattered lives of most Americans. This research paper will comprehensively unveil how these particular events shaped the realization and development of the American dream.
Three Major Aspects of Industrialization Influencing America in 1865-1920
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Rapid Economic Expansion
The subsequent period following the Civil War was marked by rapid economic growth and advancement in America. The real GDP multiplied by more than 5 between 1865 and 1920, and the real per capita product doubled as well. It should be noted that American economy expanded more through adding new inputs than through increase of productivity. The degree of technological progress was largely underestimated in terms of productivity growth. Looking at this impressive development, one may observe an evident geographical, legislative, and entrepreneurship contribution to the development of business, economic, and legal structures. Precisely, transportation formulated a reliable approach towards achieving proper communication. Transportation was also embarked by introduction of motor vehicles, which replaced trains as interior means of transport. Vehicles were made easily assessable, and by 1908, the basic price of a vehicle had dropped from $850 to $250 (Dale, 2003).
Improvement of Entrepreneurial Spirit
The industrial era was the only period when entrepreneurs were the most admirable figures in the American society. The overriding goal for any young American citizen during this period was nothing except to attain the status of a “self-made man.” It must be remembered that it was during this period that Social Darwinist ideas dominated in America more than anywhere else in the world. Based on this perspective, there was a lot of engagement of businesspeople in the competitive struggle. There was embedded belief among Americans that hard work, probity, and thrift were the Protestant virtues that determined who was the fittest, thus being successful was a symbol of a person’s moral worth.
According to Kaplan (2002), judgment of creditworthiness during this era was principally judgment of character. It implies that those who failed to succeed in business were unworthy of Darwinian spirit. It showed that such people had serious moral deficiencies. The notion that failure was a reflection of internal weaknesses was so strong that the Populists were compelled to build the farmers’ self-esteem, which had been affected by forces beyond their capacity, in order to mobilize them politically.
The Government’s Role in the Aftermath of the Civil War
Jacob (2002) emphasizes that the Constitution facilitated entrepreneurship by forming the largest free-trade zone across the globe; by giving authority to federal governments to create a systematic form of intellectual rights; and by prohibiting state governments from tampering with the value of money and abrogating contracts. While the federal government formerly undertook the mandate of playing a leading role in the nation’s economic development, sectional politics and constitutional scruples largely tampered with its efforts and programs. Some American states constructed and operated transported systems as public works.
The Neglected Category of Groups Affected by the Industrial Revolution
The Ethnic Minority
During post-Civil War period, ethnic minority groups, in particular the Blacks, Hispanics, and Chinese, were given particular labor rights. Jacob (2002) adds that labor rights were accompanied with the right to live anywhere in any city. The right for interracial marriages was also emphasized. It came in line with opposing racist ideologies, for instance, Ku Klux Klan’s radicalization of one race state. By that time, Ku Klux Klan were engineering the policies, which saw the black people being sent to destitute lands such as Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Caribbean Islands of Trinidad and Tobago. Due to increased industrialization, it was necessary to involve the industrious black community in the general economy. The Blacks and the Latin Americans suffered the most from the Industrial Revolution. The Africans who had also migrated to the American lands to provide cheap labor were among this category.
The Voiceless Women
Dale (2003) argues that industrialization was responsible for the development of women’s emancipation. Traditionally, women were relegated to domestic activities of production, nurturing, and cooking. Such stereotype was the main cause of a redundant workforce. As a result, the Industrial Revolution of 1865-1920 regurgitated women’s emancipation and equality (Dale, 2003). Education was an integral tool to bridge differences between women and men. Women freely competed with men attaining higher levels of education in the much-dominated men-corporate world. Industrialization played an integral role in enabling women to act competitively against men. Among the most severely neglected women were the women of the Blacks and Latin Americans laborers in the American farms.
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After the Civil War, children’s rights were largely recognized. Prior to 1865, children were relegated to domestic labor and were kept away from education. It made subsequent American generations stay below the average literacy rates. The adoption of a vibrant industrial revolution required a skilled labor. Education was the only means to achieve it, and taking children to schools proved to be a reliable option for most households. Many books were written about the suffering and neglect that the children of the Blacks, the Nicaraguans, and the Indians underwent in their quest for education during this era.
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