The Impact of the Industrial Revolution in America

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At the end of the 19th century, American lives were profoundly impacted by the Industrial Revolution. Political, economic and social change was evident throughout America. Before the Industrial Revolution, goods were manufactured in traditional ways and production was inefficient and slow. Most Americans lived in rural areas prior to the Industrial Revolution and small producers represented the majority of American industry. Laws regulating work and production were limited. Additionally, most manufactured goods were imported, subsequently limiting the quantity and selection of available goods. In response to this industrial growth and prosperity, drastic changes in the lives of Americans took place. The population increases in cities across America were astonishing and contributed to a decline in rural population. By 1890, several cities touted populations over 1 million people and by 1900, New York City was the second largest city in the world, outranked only by London. Huge population increases contributed to the poor living conditions of many urban Americans, which was characterized by filth, poverty and pollution. Economic change and growth were also evident. Mass production increased, and along with it, the availability of material goods. The nation’s workforce expanded and Record numbers of women and children joined the workforce. The overwhelming number of immigrants arriving in America at the end of the 19th century resulted in vast ethnic and cultural diversity amongst American workers. Low wages, long hours, mistreatment and dangerous working conditions plagued workers in the absence of government regulation and oversight, igniting harsh conflicts between the various ethnic groups of the working class. Increased job competition coupled with poor working and living conditions fueled racism and nativism amongst workers. Increasing social

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