Workers in a Maturing and Industrial Society, 1877–1914
Between 1877 and 1914 the United States became the world’s leading industrial society. It was an era of free trade in people, goods, and capital. As people moved incessantly over the face of the globe crossing oceans and borders, international commerce flourished as never before and capitalists searched ceaselessly for the most profitable investment opportunities. The United States benefited more fully from those three interrelated processes than perhaps any other nation. If for much of the nineteenth century the United States had been a relatively underdeveloped economy, dependent on the importation of capital and technology from abroad, by the turn of the twentieth century the United States could boast of one of the most developed economies in the world. In those economic sectors that marked a modern, developed economy most clearly—coal and steel, petroleum-based enterprises, chemicals, food processing, electrical equipment (all of which required large capital investments and the use of new technologies)—the United States had few rivals. Its economy could boast some of the largest enterprises in the world and the first that truly established a system based on mass production, mass distribution, and mass consumption. Whereas the United States had once exported primarily agricultural products and raw materials, importing manufactured goods from abroad, by the end of the nineteenth century such American enterprises as Standard Oil, International Harvester, Singer Sewing Machine, and the G. Swift Packing Company not only exported their products abroad but established branch plants overseas.
KeywordsTrade Union Married Woman Collective Bargaining Industrial Society Labor Union
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