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Why was the United States destined to become an industrialized nation?

The post civil war era was the beginning of great changes for America. It was this period that would begin the march towards the technologically advanced and industrial nation that we are today. Much of this, in fact, was due to technology developed during the Civil War and the boom in population caused by soldiers returning home.


American society was an ideal vehicle for industrialization. The Puritan ethic and a belief in free enterprise fostered technological innovation and economic growth, and the country had enormous natural resources. Labor-saving devices and new technologies freed workers to enter the factories, which also drew upon immigrant labor.

Aided by the spread of the transportation network, the boom period in American industrialization came in the second half of the 19th century. By the turn of the century the United States had overtaken Britain in the output of iron and coal and the consumption of raw cotton. Britain, with its older plants and equipment, faced increasing economic competition from other countries and lagged behind, particularly in the newer chemical and electrical industries; the former was led by Germany and the latter by the United States. In the 20th century the United States also dominated the new automobile industry, which Henry Ford (see Ford, family) revolutionized by introducing a system of coordinated assembly-line operations. Ford's success led to the widespread adoption of mass production techniques in industry.

There were a variety of key industries and technological innovations that led to the industrial boom.


Railroads began their quest to cross the continent. In 1850 there were about 9,000 miles of track laid. Aided by government land grants in 1865 there was over 35,000 miles of track and by 1890 there was over 200,000 miles of track. By the year 1900 there was a nationwide network of railroads that made shipping and transportation easier and helped to spur on industrial growth.

New technologies in railroads also helped. George Westinghouse developed the air braking system and George Pullman developed sleeping cars.

Building Materials

New factories and office buildings were growing in size. Newer buildings in cities began to reach towards the sky and it was obvious that the old brick and wood buildings could not handle the load. New materiels such as concrete, steel and glass were used to build the new urban centers.

Andrew Carnegie built Carnegie Steel Corporation and then sold it to J. P. Morgan, who had made a fortune in banking, who created United States Steel Corporation.

Energy Sources

New energy sources powered the factories of the industrial age. Oil, electricity and coal would be the energy sources of the future.

Thomas Alva Edison started the nations first electric generating station and developed many invention including the light bulb and record player to utilize the new technology. George Westinghouse developed alternating current. A current of e;electricity that could travel long distances. Now wire could be drawn across the whole nation to transport electricity cheaply and efficiently.

John David Rockefeller organized Standard Oil Company of Ohio. Standard Oil became a huge oil monopoly (also known as trust). Demand for oil skyrocketed after 1901 and Rockefeller became the wealthiest man in the world.


Technologies developed to ease communications between soldiers during the Civil War became useful to everyday men and women. Samuel F. B. Morse developed the first telegraphic sending device and code called Morse Code. Later The Telegraph sent messages across America and the Atlantic Ocean. In 1876 Alexander Graham Bell invented the Telephone. The Bell Telephone Company was formed the next year and American Telephone and Telegraph (AT&T) was created in 1900.

All of these new technologies made industrialization possible.

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