The Second Industrial Revolution

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The Second Industrial Revolution took place in America from the 1870s until the beginning of World War I in 1914. During these forty-five years young children and women began working in the workforce as well as many people migrating from all over the world, mostly from Europe in hope to find their American dream and jobs. This created urbanization and overpopulation. Technology also advanced which created a more competitive companies and economy. The characteristics of the Second Industrial Revolution include new technology, manufacturing, and the modern view of operation of business.

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This event brought many socio-economic impacts such as improved living conditions, increased productivity, and unemployment. Public health was very bad during the beginning of the Second Industrial Revolution but as the event continued public health and sanitation improved. The Second Industrial Revolution brought many changes to America. Young children worked in factories which were not sanity and the machines the children used were very dangerous to them. Some people believed that children should not work and needed an education while others believed an education was not important and most of the children’s time should be spent working and helping with the family income.

Women began leaving their homes and their domestic jobs and started working to help support their families. Both the children and women were under paid despite their long, hard hours. Like people had different views about child labor, people had different views about women working. Some believed that women working were breaking the gender norms and that women were taking jobs and money away from men. Others thought it was better that women were getting out of domestic work and were starting to help support the family. The Second Industrial Revolution also brought many inventions in technology such as mass production and the production of interchangeable parts. These inventions effected World War I. The inventions created during the Second Industrial Revolution positively effected the American economy during the Second Industrial Revolution and World War I. The advanced technology created during the 1870s to 1914 led to the technology we have and use today.

Although the Second Industrial Revolution created problems which negatively effected America such as children and women labor and social inequality, it nevertheless brought changes which positively effected the workforce and the lives of children and women by administering child labor by laws and breaking the old fashioned way of thinking about women in the work force. The Second Industrial Revolution also brought consequences that effected the lives of Americans due to the advance technology. The changes and the consequences brought to America by the Second Industrial Revolution shaped the modern America we know today by creating child labor laws, giving women the rights that men have, and technological advances that benefit the world today.

In this paper, I am going to divide my thesis into three sections: child labor, technology advancements, and women in the workforce. I will use primary and secondary sources to prove and support my claims about those three topics. I will also ask historical questions and answer them with additional sources. In addition, I will tie in how child labor and women in the workforce has changed over time and how technological advancements has benefited America as well as the consequences the technological advancements has had on and in America.

Child labor played a big role during the Second Industrial Revolution. In 1870, one in eight children worked and in 1900 one in six children worked. Furthermore, in 1900 eighteen percent of kids worked, that is about 1.75 million children. Most of these kids were between five years of age to sixteen years of age. These children worked in the textile, glass, and cigar industry, but some worked in the sweatshop which includes assembly and sewing work. The Second Industrial Revolution changed the nature of child labor by the working conditions and the education of the children. The working conditions were terrible. The conditions included crowded work spaces with shut doors. These working conditions affected the children’s eyesight, muscle size, and lungs.

Their eyesight was deprived by watching the thread work to make sure it didn’t get caught, their muscle size was affected by small unimportant movements, and their lungs were affected the cotton pollution from the machinery used in factories. Other conditions were also bad as they were described as children were hired before they had their permits, and children would work if there was work for them to do. Lewis W. Hines was a photographer who used his photos for social reform. He was also an investigator for the National Child Labor Committee. Hines wrote a letter about what he witnessed while he recorded child labors in factories and in their homes. In his letter he included the photos he took as evidence.

Hines witnessed young children performing tough work while they worked long hours day after day. He argues that factory work is not good for young children because of the dangerous and unsanitary conditions. Children are careless and could accidentally hurt or kill themselves on the machines the factories had. In the child labors homes, Hines writes about how he observed that the living conditions were physical bad because they were small, crowded, and that there was no privacy. Young children often overheard what the adults talked about which forces young children to grow up too quickly and teaches them that there is no time for childhood or fun. (Hines). Because the conditions were so bad, the National Child Labor Committee wanted funds to improve the conditions of child labor. The National Child Labor Committee works by contributions which is needed to help improve the factory conditions. The committee also got information out by literature such as pamphlets. Mrs. Langdon Stewardson was the chairman of the Industrial Committee who stated that child labor is a political issue and that it should be removed from politics.

According to Stewardson, poor children work in factories. Because poorer children worked in factories could be why the conditions were so bad and no one cared as well as the low wages.These children were deprived of an education, although some states had school attendance laws and forbid workers under twelve. These laws were often broken and not much was done. Some believed school was unimportant for child labors and that an education for workers was not important and would actually hurt the workers while others believed some school is important. (Dudley). Child labor played a big role because of the low wages. The children were not paid a lot and were paid less for the worth and amount of work they produced.

The South’s wages were less than the North’s wages for children. As the conditions were bad, the North tried to improve the bad conditions and limit child labor while the South did not do anything to improve the poor conditions. (Olson). In a political cartoon titled White Slavery: Northern Capital and Southern Child Labor Southern kids are being auctioned off to rich Northern capitalist. The children are standing on a podium and look scared and poor. They are standing in front of big men who look scary and mean and look like they have a lot of money. (Cite). Rose Cohen was a factory worker who wrote a newspaper article based on her experience as a young child. She wrote about how she was a coat factory worker who worked early mornings to late nights for low wages. She talked about how it was fast work, not the best work. She said it was easy to be taken advantage of by her boss because she was so young she couldn’t argue back and say she had to get home to get to her family. She had to stay and make more coats. She concludes the factory owners were never satisfied. (Rose Cohen).

During the Second Industrial Revolution there were cases, many of which went to the Supreme Court, to find child labor unconstitutional. The Supreme Court found child labor constitutional and allowed it. (Olson). Some consequences of factories and child labor include the rise of big businesses, the rise of big government, and the loss of countryside population and overcrowded cities due to urbanization. (Olson). Because child labor is not as intense as it was during the Second Industrial Revolution I want to focus on how has children working in the workforce changed over time and how has their role in life developed?

Unlike the Second Industrial Revolution, kids today are required to go to school. Children today are required to go to a private or public school for a certain amount of time under the compulsory education laws. These laws have authority to determine when a child can start school and how old they must be before dropping out. Due to the Fair Labor Standards of 1938, children under eighteen can not work certain dangerous jobs, children under sixteen cannot work during school hours, and most minors cannot work because it is oppressive child labor. In addition, the Fair Labor Standards Act also includes that a standard work week is eight hours a day and forty hours a week and the employee must make minimum wage.

If overtime is needed, an employee can only work four hours of overtime and must be paid one and a half time regular pay. Today children go to elementary school from ages five to eleven , middle school from eleven to thirteen, and high school from thirteen or fourteen to about eighteen. Most kids don’t start working until their last two years of high school and even then, they don’t work in factories. After high school it is advised to get a higher education to get a job which during the Second Industrial Revolution would be a man’s job. Children were not the only group of people who were mistreated during the Second Industrial Revolution, so were woman.

Just like how children were treated unfairly in the workforce, women were too. Up until the Second Industrial Revolution women stayed home took care of the children, family, and house. Most women worked in the textile, garment, and food canning industries. Women also worked as journalist, social workers, or office workers. Like the children, women were underpaid. Some men thought women should be a true women which means being a submissive wife and a mother whose priority was her home and family. This was worrisome because men were seen as employed outside the home and women were homemakers so by women working outside the home was worrisome because it broke the natural order and gender norms of the Second Industrial Revolution time period.

People argued that married women who worked negatively effected their home and neglected their children because they were gone for twelve hours or more. They also argued a home isn’t a home without a mother. While teenage girls worked in factories, they worked long hours like everyone else. Because they worked so much, they don’t have the time or strength to do housework. It is argued that factory girls will get married later and the later a women gets married she won’t make a good home. Many people who thought this were men because they were afraid of change in women’s appearance and afraid women were going to take away the man’s money and jobs.Another belief is that while women should be allowed to work, but they should stay home when they have a young child. Industrialization gave women more rights and it caused them to not become as anxious to marry as before.

The women who worked had different backgrounds, some had a high school degree, others had a university degree, and some were immigrants. Women working was a positive step away from gender norms. A social class norm that was broken was the idea that poor women were taken care of by men and rich women had no aim in life. During the Second Industrial Revolution women started to work outside the house. Now there was the idea that women could take care of themselves and pursue their own paths in life. Another norm that was broken was appointed marriages, women now married based on respeect, honor, and love. They began to help support their families by the wages they made by working in factories.

Typically, men made more than women and were the main source of money in the family. Teenage sons were often paid more than their mothers. Because of the inequality in the workforce women got together to create the Women’s Suffrage Association. The members of this association believed men and women deserved the same rights and responsibilities since men and women are created equal. Actually, World War I also gave women the man’s job because while the men were drafted off to fight in the war, women worked their jobs. Women saw this as working on behalf of the war and believed this showed that they were just as patriotic as men. Since fathers and mothers or men and women were both working and supporting their families women wanted equal rights. Women were not allowed to vote before or during the Second Industrial Revolution.

Actually, some states allowed women to vote in the 1910s, but of course they Southern and Eastern states resisted. There was an amendment proposed in 1923 that prohibited all discrimination based on sex so equal pay for men and women, or you couldn’t give a job to a man if a women was more qualified, etcetera, but it was not ratified. Even in todays times women are not treated equally as men, but are treated better than they were during the Second Industrial Revolution. A historical question I have is, how has the women’s role changed in the working force over time? Well, more women have jobs and are working outside of their house. A lot of women now have what was seen as the man’s job with professions such as doctors and lawyers. Because women began working alongside with men, they wanted equal rights. The nineteenth amendment gave women the right to vote.

The Equal Pay Act of 1963 made it illegal to pay less based on the employee’s sex. This where the saying Equal pay for equal work comes from. A consequence is that although women should make as much as men, sometimes they don’t. Women also have to spend more on hygiene products than men. For an example, women’s razors are often more expensive than men’s razors and other feminine products such as pads and tampons have a higher tax on them than the normal sales tax. Today, women are still not treated equally as men although they are treated more fairly and more equally than they were during the Second Industrial Revolution.

The Second Industrial Revolution brought many technological advances between the 1870s until 1914. The invention of electricity transformed American society. Americans were able to stay out later because of the lights on the streets. Because Americans were able to stay out later because of electricity and streetlights, factory owners made workers stay later. Some boats ran on steam hence the name steamboats and railroad trains ran on coal. Coal was mined for and that created jobs. Industrialization changed the nature in which things were produced. Interchangeable parts were invented which made items more efficient and cheap. An example is the sewing machine, which mostly women worked with this machine. The invention of interchangeable parts led to the invention of mass production. (Mokyr). Mass production meant that demands became higher and manufactures became more competitive because more items were produced faster. Mass production increased the products efficiency and liability while keeping prices for the good low. Before mass production, items were made to a made-to-order basis in factories which as mentioned before were often made my children and were not that good of quality but were really expensive.

It also bettered the economy because items were affordable so manufactures did not have to sacrifice profits. In addition to mass production, big compartment stores such and Sears and Macy’s took over local stores. In stores like these they sold items that were mass produced. Scientific inventions such as modern organic chemistry. artificial dyes, fertilizer and dynamite/explosives were also created. Because so many inventions were made I ask, how did the technology invented during the Second Industrial Revolution impact people’s daily life in modern America? The consequences of the new technology include the middle class emerging, better science and medicine, and more. The new technology brought the emergence of the middle class and the middle class needed the new technology. Steamboats and railroads brought pollution which keeps getting worse with modern technology such as cars. (Mokyr). Mass production forever changed consumer culture by making items cheap and more affordable for every social class. The Second Industrial Revolution changed how products and goods are produced because, as mentioned before, the Second Industrial Revolution gave birth to mass production which everything today is made by mass production.

Mass production also affected World War I by making products such as weapons faster than ever. New weapons were created which increased how deadly the war was. War vehicles like planes and tanks were mass produced and were able to be made because of the new technology that the Second Industrial Revolution brought. This is scary in todays times because of the invention of the atomic bomb which could be mass produced and could actually take out the entire earth.

Mass production was the deadliest weapon of World War I. The scientific inventions help modern science and medicine which we use and know today.(Olson). Because of all the advanced technology there are now lower death rates, people live longer, we have greater ability of goods and food, we have better living standards, and transportation was improved and is more efficient. (Dudley).

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The Second Industrial Revolution. (2019, Jul 06). Retrieved from