United States technological and industrial history

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At the time of the American revolution and beyond, the technology and industry of the United States was lagging behind that of its European counterparts, although not by much. In the next century and a half, however, several waves of invention and growth would sweep the fledgeling nation, making its economy one of the largest and most modern in the world.


Early Industrialism

Until the 1820s, the United States was almost completely pre-industrial, with most manufacturing being done in individual households - the British Industrial revolution had not yet begun to trickle into America. The first step in this direction was Francis Cabot Lowell's visit to Britain in 1811, where he managed to memorize the secret to constructing a power loom. He and his associates founded several textile plants in Boston based on this new technology, the most famous of which was created at Lowell, Massachusetts in 1822. The Lowell system employed a large force of "mill girls" living in dormitories in order to run the factory. New England quickly became the home of a growing textile industry, the first area of the United States to feel the effects of industrialization. Industrialized growth also occurred in the Pennsylvania iron industry and the manufacture of small arms. Although America was still for the most part an agricultural nation, the seeds for an industrial base were sown.

Technology and invention

During the first half of the nineteeth century, from about the 1810s to the 1860s, the direction of American progress began to change. Although factories continued to expand during this period, much greater strides were being taken in invention. The efficiency and quality of American manufacturing and agriculture during this period was improved by a wide range of practical inventions. Here are some of the more important inventors of the period (arranged by approximate order of patent):

Post-Civil War Industrialism

During the last half of the nineteeth century, after the American Civil War, United States industry began to boom at an unheard-of rate. Northern business entrepreneurs flourished - their main domestic rivals, the Southern planter class, no longer had political power, the tariff was high, and government on every level was eager to see the expansion of business. The changes that these innovators created in American society had a swift and dramatic influence.


Growth of corporations



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