Industrialization in the U.S – Assignment Example

The paper "Industrialization in the U.S. " is an outstanding example of a history assignment. In the late nineteenth century, which is between the close of the Civil War and the beginning of the twentieth century, the United States underwent economic transformation marked by the maturing of the industrial economy, the development of large-scale agriculture, the rapid expansion of big business and the rise of national labor unions and industrial conflict. According to historians, American industrialization was a multifaceted and complex phenomenon with many different meanings. That phenomenon was initially known as the trusts, pools or combinations and then as big business; a convenient summary term just like industrialization. The giant firms, looming large in their industries, received most of the attention from the late nineteenth century contemporaries. The whole industries came to be identified with the names of the most influential entrepreneurs who dominated them. A few examples include J.P. Morgan in finance, James J. Hill in railroads and Cyrus McCormick in reapers. Andrew Carnegie, an American industrialist, built a giant iron and steel empire using huge new plants. Another American industrialist John D. Rockefeller, the creator of Standard Oil, did the same in petroleum refining. He understood the logic of oil rationing and the importance of transportation to the business of processing and marketing a bulk commodity. Until Rockefeller retired from active management of the oil corporation, standard oil lowered the cost of kerosene and other products, a strategy that discouraged the entrance of new competitors into the field. Giant enterprises have been the focus of most of the historical analysis of the business. However, Porter emphasizes that the giant organizations were not responsible for most of the U.S. industrial expansion in the late nineteenth century and that the vast majority of industrial firms were not big businesses. He affirms that industrialization, which took many forms, began and flourished well before the rise of big business. In science-based industries, scientists had enormous inventions such as of chemicals, new sources of power and lighting especially electricity, phonograph, the typewriter, and other electrical machinery. Within the factory, engineers reorganized work processes through what they called systematic management. They later called it scientific management or Taylorism - after its messianic leader, Frederick W. Taylor. The firm structure and management changed from the traditional single units which were run by one or a few owners, dealt in a single product line, handled only a single economic function and operated in one geographical area into modern business enterprises, which contain many distinct operating units and are managed by a hierarchy of salaried executives. Among the key element that facilitated industrialization in the U.S. are telegraph and railway. Railroads were the most potent symbol of the new industrial age and they pioneered in the organizational innovations of big business. They lowered the cost of shipping freight, which in turn allowed a reduced cost for food and durable items. Railway also enhanced forging connections between production and distribution for both localized and national markets stimulating new levels of competition. Advanced mechanization in form of improved reapers and other agricultural implements came to the farm, which led to the flourishing of agriculture. This, in turn, led to increased volume and value of foodstuffs, growth in exports and more acreage came into cultivation making the United States the worlds premier food producer (Campbell, para15). Labor unions formed by workers also facilitated industrial development in the United States. These represented them and bargained for their rights in order to counter the power of business. They occasionally held strikes, sometimes violent, which appeared as signs of underlying tensions. Initially, they only had limited success and until the great depression of the 1930s, skilled craft workers were almost the only groups that managed to sustain unions. Of these unions, the most successful were those in the American Federation of Labor who did not seek fundamental social or economic change as socialists advocated. Instead, they embraced industrial society and focused on improving the wages and working conditions of their members. Industrialization in the U.S. brought faster and more reliable transport and communication, new and improved goods for consumers hence increasing the living standards of her citizens. It also made the national independence more secure.