Introduction to US History/Immigration & Industrial Revolution

Americas in the 1850s had to deal a lot with immigration and inventions. Most immigrants were from Ireland or Germany. Slavery was also taking new forms of rebellion, including Nat Turner and Harriet Tubman. Some of these new inventions included the cotton gin, Samuel Slater's modification to British textile, John Deer's steel plow, and Lowell Textile Mills.

An industrial revolution took place because of massive immigration, abundance of land/inventions, and transportation was being made easier (railroads were being developed).

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Immigrants found the US to be an attractive destination as there was a lot of land, no mandatory military service, freedom of religion and class society, and lower/no taxes. They took a big risk coming over to America. 30% of immigrants died crossing the Atlantic Ocean. Steamships, including the RMS Titanic, were crossing the ocean within 10-12 days.

As mentioned earlier, a significant number of immigrants were Irish & German. In Ireland, the 1850/1870s Potato Blight took place. This resulted in a quarter of the Irish succumbing to starvation due to contaminated crops. As a result of massive Irish immigration, New York City became the world's largest Irish city. As for Germany, crop failure was prevalent and political discontent was an issue. Democracy was sought after by the Germans, but America had already achieved this. Since the Germans were wealther and better educated - their migration was easier.

Some famous immigrants that came to America were Ferdinand Schumacher, Heinrich Steinweg, and Levi Strauss. Schumacher peddled oatmeal in Ohio and created the Quaker Oaks company. Steinweg was a pianist and created Steinway Pianos, which was notable for its improved quality and exceptional craft. Levi Strauss designed the "Levi" jeans.

Industrial Revolution


Samuel Slater

"Father of the Factory System"

Samuel Slater is credited as the "father of the factory system". The factory system entailed horrid conditions: 12-13hr shifts, 6 days a week with low wages/no labor unions, and unsanitary factories. Child labor was prevalent. He left England illegaly (British mill workers were not allowed to leave the country so that they wouldn't leak the British' way of making cotton/linen fabric) and arrived in Rhode Island in 1791. With the help of fellow inventor Moses Brown, he created the loom and textile mill.

Slater's Factory System consisted of 7 boys and 2 girls: malnourished, emotionally abuse, scarred from whips/beatings. Under Jackson's "New Democracy", universal suffrage was established so all men can vote. This meant that politicians could advocate for improved working conditions. They were able to rally for a law that made 10 hr workdays the limit. Public education was also demanded and granted. Child labor didn't become an issue until Theodore Roosevelt's presidency.

Lowell Textile Mill


The Lowell Mills were the "state-of-the-art showplace" factory in 1820. This was a place where one could spin cotton into a thread and weave threads into a piece of fabric - in one go. This was also a place where young, single women were encouraged to work. They would endure 10-12 hour workdays and be under monitoring by matrons 24/7.

The Southerns' Gem: Cotton Gin

A model of the cotton gin

The Cotton Gin, made by Eli Whitney in 1793, improved the production of cotton (a single cotton gin could generate nearly 50lbs of cotton) and increased the need for slaves. Eli Whitney applied for a patent on October 29, 1793, but the patient was granted nearly 1 year later on March 14, 1794. The patent wasn't validated until 12 years later in 1807. Not only did the cotton gin lock the slavery system, but it also benefitted the North.



Railroads were first built in the US in 1828. In 1860, there were over 30k railroad tracks - the majority of it presiding in the North. The railroads prove vital for the North in their transportation of soldiers, which proved fatal for the South in the civil war.

The Reaper

Cyrus McCormick's reaper

The Reaper, made by Jo Anderson (enslaved African American) and Cyrus McCormick, helped with harvesting grain by separating the grain from the plant stock (1 Reaper = 5 farm hands). Jo Anderson was the real inventor of the Reaper, but Cyrus McCormick improved the reaper and patented the invention. The Reaper was invented in Raphine, VA in McCormick's farm. The patent for the invention was granted on June 21, 1834.

John Deere's Steel Plow


John Deere, founder of the John Deere company, revolutionized plows by creating plows from steel instead of iron. The plow was self-scouring as sod slipped off the blade. It was light so it could be pulled by only one horse instead of multiple.

The Telegraph



Robert Fulton, the entrepreneur who improved the steamboat.

The Steamboat was improved by entrepreneur Robert Fulton. This improvement changed river transportation since it provided faster transportation from the North to the South.

Steam Locomotive


The Steam Locomotive provided faster transportation. By 1860, more than 30,000 miles of railroad tracks were made throughout the country. But this tool didn't get a good impression at first, people were skeptical about the train. Going at 18 miles per hour, with bumpy roads, many feared that it could hurt their brain. Some people, by the end of the trail on the Steam Locomotive, would have brain damage. The Steam Locomotive was powered by steam created heated water. Many fires broke out from the soot and dirt when creating the steam. Early train tracks and bridges would be easily broken down, and cause injuries and many casualties.

But soon after the errors were fixed, the steam locomotive was a popular way of getting across the country.