Early Industrialization

National versus Regional Identities of the United States

Andrew Awad, Jonathan Bloom

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ROAD TRIP! Industrialization is Here!


During the late 1700s and 1800s, industrialization came to the United States from Britain, majorly impacting the manufacturing economy of the Northeast. The changes in the manufacturing of the Northeast caused developments in both a national identity and in regional identities throughout the country, but the national identity developed more following early industrialization in the United States.

The Cotton Gin

Saturday, Oct. 12th 1793 at 1pm

Westborough, Massachusetts, United States

Westborough, MA

The cotton gin (engine) was invented in 1794 by Eli Whitney. The cotton gin separates cotton fibers from their seeds which allowed farmers to sell more cotton at a faster rate.The widespread adoption of the cotton gin by southern plantation owners not only contributed to the inception of the textile industry, but also increased their dependency on slaves. By selling the raw fibres to the textiles up north, and shipping the finished products back south, Americans began to develop a unified identity because of their dependence on each other.
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The Voyage of the Clermont Steamboat

Monday, Aug. 17th 1807 at 6am

New York, NY, United States

New York, NY

On this day, Robert Fulton, the inventor of the modern steamboat, and Robert Livingston, a wealthy landowner, set off to make the first known steamboat journey on the Hudson River from New York City to Albany. The journey, which took a record-setting 36 hours, proved the viability of the steamboat and resulted in quicker communication and transportation of goods. The revolutionary transportation system created a new way to more efficiently connect the different parts of the United States. By connecting the different parts of the country, the United States was able to increase the scale of industrialization
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The Industrialization of the Textile Industry

Saturday, Jan. 1st 1820 at 12am

Boston, MA, United States

Boston, MA

During the early 1800’s, numerous mechanics emigrated from Britain to the United States, bringing British industrial technology with them. This technology was put to use namely in the textile industry, and large amounts of workers, especially women, began to work in the textile factories, many of which were centered in New England (Boston in particular). This new industrialization of textile production connected the Southern cotton plantations with the Northern textile mills as the economic success of both the North and the South were dependent on each other. While the two region did different types of work, both regions benefited from the new profitability gained from the industrialization. The increased profitability of cotton and cloth in the two regions led to the further development of a national identity since the North and the South were connected in shared economic prosperity.
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The Construction of the Erie Canal

Wednesday, Oct. 26th 1825 at 12am

Albany, NY, United States

Albany, NY

The Erie Canal, a canal constructed between the source of the Hudson River in Albany and Lake Erie, connected the American Midwest and Northeast in an agricultural trade exchange. The Hudson River connected Albany with New York City, creating a water trade route from Lake Erie to New York City. The new economic opportunities offered by this canal brought economic success to the Midwest and Great Lakes area, which fostered even more trade between the Northeast and the Midwest. By connecting these two previously separate areas in trade, a more national identity developed in these regions as the economic intentions of the two regions joined together to become unified. Also, since many other East Coast cities wanted to develop canals and waterways to the Midwest west, the national identity in the East Coast spread beyond New York City and the cities along the Erie Canal.
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The Mechanical Reaper

Wednesday, June 7th 1837 at 12pm

290 Boners Run Rd

Shawsville, VA

The mechanical reaper was invented in 1837 by Robert McCormick, a Virginian plantation owner. The mechanical reaper more efficiently harvested grain which led to an influx of food and a demand for slaves. The influx of food allowed more people to become factory workers and also allowed the population to grow without the fear of starvation. The invention of the reaper unified the American people and created a unified identity by connecting the northern merchants and citizens to a steady supply of southern food. The northern dependence on the Southern farmers and the southern dependence on northern goods created a unique national identity.
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The Construction of Railroads

Tuesday, Jan. 1st 1850 at 9pm

Midwest and Eastern United States

During the 1850's, capitalists in major East Coast cities began to construct railroads between the East Coast and the Midwest. Later, the railroads expanded to the South as well. These new railroads fostered connections between Western US cities and to other states and to the prosperous East Coast cities.These new economic ties between the East and the Midwest fostered a stronger national identity due to the shared economic intentions of the East and the West. Additionally, the railroads brought prosperity to the Midwest, connecting the Midwest to the East both in economic terms and in cultural terms.
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Roles of Women

Wednesday, Jan. 1st 1800 at 6pm

NorthEast United States, Southern United States

The roles of working women in the North and the South created individual regional identities. In the North, women were more likely to work in the textile industry which lessened the prominent gender gap seen in the southern colonies. Woman in the North often worked as hard as the men did with less pay. In the southern colonies, women were stuck doing household tasks while the men worked or oversaw his slave labor. The society was conducive to a heavily dominated patriarchal society. Although the regional differences of the roles of women were prominent, a larger national identity was born during this period of industrialization in America.

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The Arrival of Mechanics

Saturday, Jan. 1st 1820 at 12am

Northeast United States

Regional Identities formed after the arrival of mechanics, experts in industrial technology, from Britain in the United States. The arrival of these mechanics brought on the mass development of major industrial technology in the American Northeast, especially in fields like textile production. Different regional identities formed, through, amongst the Northeast and the more rural South and West, where agriculture dominated both the economy and the lifestyle of the people. The factory-based lifestyle in the small, industrial towns of the Northeast differed from the plantation and farm lifestyles of the South and West. These different economic systems and lifestyles drove the regions to develop different identities and not to have one unified culture.
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Samuel Slater - A famous British mechanic who came to the US in 1789 and improved upon British textile manufacturing designs

Formation of Economic/Social Classes in the North and Commonwealth v. Hunt

Tuesday, March 1st 1842 at 12am

Boston, MA, United States

Boston, MA

In the North, the industrial workforce primarily consisted of members of the lower classes, but they were still freemen. In the South, though, the workers on the plantations were primarily slaves with very few rights. While the freemen in the North led difficult and restricted lives due to their work and financial situations, they still had freedoms and were able to join in unions and revolt, as supported by the Commonwealth v. Hunt case in 1842. The differences in workforce due to the industrialization of the North versus the agricultural society of the South and West divided the regions and caused them to develop separate identities. The free-labor force of the industrialized North forced different work regulations and work systems to develop compared to the brutal work system of slave labor. Also, since the slaves were property of their owners and since they had very few, if any, rights, the slave owners did not have to fear rebellion like the Northern business owners, leading the work environment to be different. This difference in work environment led the regions to develop different identities due to their different economic mentalities and systems.
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