The Market Revolution
The United States underwent a period of economic growth between the year 1820 and 1860. The transformation was brought about by changes in the economy, technology, and social conditions. At that moment, immigrants and Slaves were the main sources of labor as compared to the times before that. In regard to economy, railways and roads were built to enhance trade amongst the population. Steam engines were replaced by coal engines, an action that led to improved transportation for human and goods. This contributed to the development of the economy for the nation. Technologically, the country was transitioning into machine intensive labor sector where human efforts would be reinforced with integration of machines. Some of these machines included sewing machines, farm tools and, watch/clock. The immigrants and slaves faced a lot of challenges ranging from mortality rate, public health to epidemics. However, the condition changed with the economic revolution. This essay will focus on the market revolution in the United States between 1820 to the year 1860.
The economic factors include market revolution through mechanization of labor, division of labor and increased production. Many institutions shifted to employing women and girls as a cheap source of labor. This was engineered by Boston manufacturing company which came up with a labor system depicted as Waltham plan. This would help industries operates at the lowest cost possible. In the early 1930s, a total of 40,000 women in England were employed in textile mills. This is because they were oppressed and paid low salaries. However, women were contented with the pay because they believed that this was an opportunity to work and get paid. Traditionally, women were discriminated and could not access employment in the industries, hence it was a relief for them. A good number of men in the population were jobless and this escalated unemployment to 10 percent towards the year 1857. This prompted the worker’s leaders to come together and form unions to bargain for salaries. By the year 1934, some workers had already formed labor unions an idea that was faced with equal opposition from the employers. Some of the employees were dismissed or fired due to engagement in unions. Thus, the labor leaders were forced to disengage members from active union activities to retain their jobs. The lives of slaves were affected negatively through peanut wages and oppressive labor laws by the employers. Thus, they spent a lot of hours working but the pay was not commensurate for the hours spent.
Technological innovation intensified during this period as institutions of higher learning were being set up to cater for the needs of the population. Erie Canal and other infrastructural development brought about change in the transportation industry that enhanced farming and other national activities such as leadership. The Supreme Court and other bodies encouraged regional or interstate trade. Bank notes and letters were now in use and institutions would trade using the two medium hence improved the lives of community. In communication, telephones booths were introduced to help government officials and states communicate to facilitate trade and security issues. However, the innovation that took place in the agricultural sector would later turn out to be destructive to the labor sector. This is because mechanization rendered some workers jobless. Thus, families became poor and other turned into crime to make the end meet. The slaves were the most affected group by these changes and they became desperate. Thus, they did the odd jobs available so that they could support their families. At the same time, the country was divided in terms of slave trade. The northerners encouraged slave’s trade abolishment while the southerners championed for slavery backed economy.
The social conditions in the country were characterized by classes, culture, and racism. The industrial revolution led to the emergence of classes in the society. “By 1860, some cities emerged as economically strong and they included New York, St. Louis and Philadelphia. A state like New York controlled the importation and exports business. The region was in command of almost half of the country’s foreign trade (Foner 67)” This made it an economic hub in the region. As income increased, social classes that comprised of poor, middle class and elite or the rich came into being. The poor were dependent on the rich, therefore them and the working class stayed in shambolic environment. The rich and the middle class would afford a decent life and they lived in a better place. Thus, middle class comprised of the workers in industries who supported the poor. However, they were able to earn a living and educate their children. The African American and colored population appeared on the lower class. The poor struggled to feed their families as well as educate them.
In conclusion, market revolution took place alongside other activities that forced workers to perform their duty for long hours while payment was little. Thus, the working environment did not favor them at all, and this led to extortion and oppression for the poor. The economic factors were connected to the development of infrastructure and market. Technology, on the other hand denotes the use of machines in industry. Lastly, we have the social classes that define the lifestyle of a person. These classes came into being during the economic revolution as some people became rich while others were poor.
Foner, Eric. Give Me Liberty!: An American History. New York: W.W. Norton & Co, 2014.