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The Agricultural Revolution

Influence of the Civil War on the Agricultural Revolution


Early steamboat

Early steamboat.

The decade of the Civil War serves as a landmark to mark the passing of one period in American life and the beginning of another; especially in agriculture and technology.

The United States which fought the Civil War was vastly different from the United States which fronted the world at the close of the Revolution. The scant four million people of 1790 had grown to thirty-one and a half million. This growth had come chiefly by natural increase, but also by immigration, conquest, and annexation. Settlement had reached the Pacific Ocean, though there were great stretches of almost uninhabited territory between the settlements on the Pacific and those just beyond the Mississippi.

Textile Industry Flourishes in the North

The cotton gin had turned the whole South toward the cultivation of cotton. The South was not manufacturing any considerable proportion of the cotton it grew, but the textile industry was flourishing in North. A whole series of machines similar to those used in Great Britain, but not identical, had been invented in America. American mills paid higher wages than British and in quantity production were far ahead of the British mills, in proportion to hands employed, which meant being ahead of the rest of the world.

Wages in America

Wages in America, measured by the world standard, were high. There was a good supply of free land, or land that was practically free. The wages paid were high enough to attract laborers who could save enough to buy their own land. Workers in textile mills often worked only a few years to save money, buy a farm, or to enter some business or profession.

Advances in Transportion Lines

The steamboat, and the railroad, offered transportation to the West. Steamboats travelled all the larger rivers and the lakes. The railroad was growing rapidly. Its lines had extended to more than thirty thousand miles. Construction went on during the war, and the transcontinental railway was in sight. The locomotive had approached standardization, and the American railway was comfortable for passengers, with Pullman sleeping cars, the dining cars, and the automatic air brake of George Westinghouse being invented.

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