The American Promise, Ch 12 Outline

The American Promise Value Edition, Combined Version (Volumes I & II): A History of the United States

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I. Economic and Industrial Revolution A. Agriculture and Land Policy 1. As Americans moved westward, they encountered fewer forests and eventually reached the Midwest's comparatively treeless prairie, where they could spend less time clearing the land and more time cultivating it, significantly boosting agricultural productivity. 2. Labor-saving improvements in farm implements, such as John Deere's steel “singing plow,” also increased agricultural productivity. 3. Improvements in wheat harvesting, such as Cyrus McCormick's mechanical reaper, also multiplied farmers' productivity; as a result corn and wheat harvests doubled between 1840 and 1860. 4. In the end, the agricultural productivity that fueled the nation's economy was an outgrowth of federal land policy, which made land available to millions of ordinary people. 5. Government land policy also enriched wily speculators who found ways to claim large tracts of desirable land and sell them at a generous markup. B. Manufacturing and Mechanization 1. The advent of mechanization allowed manufacturers to produce more with less labor, significantly decreasing and helped to buoy the nation's land-rich, labor-poor economy. 2. The practice of manufacturing and then assembling interchangeable parts, known as the “American system,” spread from gun-making to other industries; standardized parts allowed manufacturers to employ unskilled workers who were cheaper and more readily available than skilled craftsmen. 3. Manufacturing and agriculture meshed into a dynamic national economy; New England focused on manufacturing primarily for the domestic market, and the Southern and Western states produced commodities such as wheat, port, whiskey, tobacco, and cotton. C. Railroads: Breaking the Bonds of Nature 1. By 1850, trains steamed along nine thousand miles of track, almost two-thirds of it in New England and the Middle Atlantic states; by 1860 they made the United States the world's second greatest industrial power. 2. In addition to speeding transportation, railroads propelled the growth of the iron and coal industries, both vital to railroad construction and operation. 3. The growing railroad industry also stimulated the fledgling telegraph industry and by 1861 fifty thousand miles of wire stretched alongside railroad tracks. 4. Almost all railroads were built and owned by private corporations rather than by the government; undergirding these private investments was massive government aid, especially federal land grants. 5. The railroad boom of the 1850s signaled the growing industrial might of the American economy; in the 1840s and 1850s, the railroads linked farms and cities for an expanding population that was moving westward.
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II. Free Labor: Promise and Reality A. The Free-Labor Ideal: Freedom plus Labor 1. During the 1840s and 1850s, leaders throughout the North and West emphasized the advantages of free labor, which seemed to explain why the changes underway in their society benefited some more than others. 2.
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The American Promise, Ch 12 Outline - I Economic and...

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