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Drawing examples from The Jungle, discuss three significant events that happened in America during the Industrial Era.
In human history, mankind has witnessed two great industrial revolutions. One occurred in the United Kingdom around the middle of the seventeenth century and the start of the eighteenth century. This industrial revolution had led to the United Kingdom becoming a powerhouse in both colonial and economic terms. However, the second industrial revolution witnessed by humanity was in the United States of America. This industrial revolution occurred in the middle of the eighteenth century. This revolution brought around the reformation of the current framework of operations being employed within the United States of America. It transformed it into such a way that the United States of America was positioned to become the leader of the world. America’s industrial revolution occurred after the end of the Civil War. This essay analyses the industrial era on the basis of the three significant events that occurred during that time in the United States of America.
As it is mentioned above the industrial revolution in the United States of America came about after the end of the Civil war. Around this time the nation was still trying to re-solidify its bonds and the entrepreneurs in the United States of America were starting to build on to the advancements done by Britain. Their hard work paid off because in the coming years there was immense innovation in transportation, industry and finally the emergence of electricity occurred. This would definitely transform their standing in the world forever.
The primary significant event that had occurred in the industrial era of the United States of America was the expansion and innovation in transportation. The United States of America was still a bit immature but worked with haste in trying to expand to the west once it got its independence. This westward expansion of the United States of America was partly supported by the large network of rivers and lakes that were present on its boundaries. During the start of the century, the early decades saw the creation of a route by the name of the Erie Canal. This created a route from the great lakes to the Atlantic Ocean. This helped stimulate the economy of New York and further entrenched the city of New York as a well-known trading centre. Furthermore, there was exponential growth in progress in the lake cites and the great river of the Midwest. This is accredited to the reliable form of transportation offered by machines such as a steamboat. Keeping with this trend, the first national road created was started in the year of 1811 and was named Cumberland Road. This road then further became part of the interstates 40.
Transportation had become an important factor for the expansion of the western unexplored hemisphere of the United States. During this time James Watt was the person who had invented the first steam engine. His invention was p0ut to use and became a power source for transporting goods. The steam engine was used as a source of power for riverboats. The fact is that it was not the steamboats that had revolutionized the transportation industry but the locomotives run by the steam engine were the ones that truly brought about the change. Upon the creation of the Rocket by John Stephenson, the locomotive boom was seen in the United States of America and Europe. By the year 1840, there were an estimated three thousand miles of railroad tracks been laid out in the United States of America. Companies started to build and operated numerous railway networks. The fact was that only some of them were profitable, whereas, most of them had to face struggles related to their financials. This way large companies that were profitable in nature started to buy out smaller ones and this led to the progress of huge railway corporations. This advancement in transportation is clearly visible in the novel the jungle, in which the Jurgis and Ona’s family were able to travel so swiftly from Lithuania to America in a matter of days. A journey that would have mostly taken months (Sinclair).
The second most prominent event that occurred during the industrial era in the United States of America is the emergence of the middle class. As time went on cities started to spring up in the western hemisphere of the United States of America. These cities were starting to spring up along major water networks. This also had a positive impact on the industry as well as it grew tremendously during this time. As industry expanded, the lives of the middle class and their number started to grow exponentially. This was the first time in history that a huge percentage of Americans had access to disposable income and also had leisure time for themselves so that they could spend that disposable income. This was due to the revolution in industry, which led to the industrialization of American society. Furthermore, new machines started popping up that had used both in industries as well as homes. In the year 1846, Elias Howe was the genius who invented the sewing machine. This invention of his truly revolutionized the manufacture of clothing. Through this piece of machinery, factories were able to increase their output exponentially and even had an impact on the households. This is because housewives now had at their disposal a machine that could create clothes for their household at their feet.
Furthermore, the middle class had seen enormous benefits from the rise of the industrial revolution. Thousands of new jobs were available to them and this was because of the growing number of businesses and the factories that were being sprung up. Furthermore, the middle moved on from meager work and onto occupations such as shopkeepers, accountants and merchants. This allowed them to move from their current standing and move onto better strata of life. This allowed the middle class to grow even further in size. The more they started to earn they started to have even more access to disposable income. They further had the advantage of having access to affordable amenities. These included things such as fine clothing and furniture. By acquiring thing such as these they were able to give themselves a comfortable life. Furthermore, education became accessible to them as well and they were able to put their children into schools. This way they were enshrining the success in their social standing and that would rise even further in the next generation. However, in the novel the Jungle, the people in the middle class did see some sort of upward movement but the poor class got even poorer. Even the immigrants such as Jurgis and Ona, who had come from so far away had to go through so much and eventually lose everything (Sinclair).
The third most important event that occurred in during the industrial revolution was the introduction of society to electricity, telephones, steel and labour. After the nation had to rebuild itself after the civil war, the emergence of the electrical network would be the driving force behind the change that will transform the country of the United States of America even more rapidly compared to railroads. Building on the work that was primarily done by a British inventor, Thomas Edison invented the first full-functioning incandescent light bulb. He then patented his invention in the year 1879. Afterwards, his ambitions grew and he quickly started promoting the idea of the development of an electrical grid in the city of New York. All of this was so he could power up hid invention. However, Edison’s inventions relie on direct currents and the transmission of such electricity could not be done over a long distance.
On the other hand, the same poles that were supporting this device helped in supporting the lines of the telephone. This device was unveiled by Alexander Graham Bell and the time of its unveiling match with the hundredth birthday of the United States of America. These inventions also played a major hand in the urbanization movement that was sweeping the country. It led to the movement of people from farms to the cities. This urbanization not only attracted people from the farms to the cities but from other countries into America as well. Seeing and wanting to have the American that was being propagated by events as mentioned above cause families from abroad to move to America. One such example was Jurgis and Ona’s family, who were so poor in their own country but want to have a better life and to give a better life to their children and their families they came to America. However, upon reaching America they were met with even more hardships (Sinclair).
The book The Jungle provides a pretty bleak representation of the industrial era of the United States of America. It sheds light on a multitude of topics related to immigrants coming into the country for work. The book is also a great representation of the major events that had transpired during the industrial era. The expansion of the transport system, the emergence of the middle class and the invention of electricity and the development were again some of the events that have shaped the evry history of humanity.
Sinclair, Upton. The Jungle:(1906). CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2014.
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