The pursuit of American Dream by people from all over the world brought the achievement of nation’s dream of industrial and economical progress. As United States saw a complete transformation of rural agrarian society changing into a progressive industrial economic centered metropolitan cities. And this transformation occurred in a period of few decades that is from late 19th century to early 20th century. Before this industrial revolution the Americans lived in isolated agricultural household with horse drawn wagons as their only means of connecting to the outside world (Olmstead and Rhode, 2000: 711).Except for the few towns which had the facility of railways and other means of transportation, the isolated towns were mainly self sufficient in the essential needs of everyday life.
But the American industrial revolution due to the availability of unskilled immigrants ready to work at low wages lowered the costs of manufactured goods made it possible for the 20th century to experience a dramatic change in the form of consumer revolution and expanding national network of rail lines and highways. By 1880 agricultural frontier had largely disappeared and by 1920, one half of northern farms had automobiles and telephones (Olmstead and Rhode, 2000: 712–713). So we see that immigration and industrialization were correlated, both spatially and temporally in American history (Taeuber and Taeuber, 1971: 117) and both of them became an important factor in influencing the creation of social classes and creating multiple social problems. This essay will address and expound the effects of immigration and industrialization in America in the 19th century.
Effects of immigration on American society
Nature of cities changed spread out into suburbs and “rings” reflecting class & status discrimination as the slums of the immigrants greatly contrasted with the Wealthy neighborhoods. Middle class areas were removed from industrial development and were mostly in the suburbs. The economic boost improved public transit meant and the suburbs could move farther out.
Urban problems due to immigration
This led to a shift from rural areas to the urbanization of cities. Slums were also built as housing for immigrant families. Cities provided a supply of labor for factories and a principle market for factory made goods. Millions of young Americans from rural areas decided to seek new economic opportunities in the cities therefore they left their farms for industrial and commercial jobs. Cities underwent changes in size and internal structure. Skyscrapers were built with a steel skeleton to allow buildings to be constructed taller and taller.
Rise of unions and political machines
The nativists caused resentment of the new immigrants, and promoted the idea that native born Americans were somehow better than newly immigrated people. Soon parties such as the Know-Nothing Party, also known as the American Party or the KKK, started emerging. The Know-Nothing Party was an organization as well as a political movement that resisted Roman Catholic immigration in particular, and any immigration in general. The advocated waiting 21 years before immigrants could become naturalized citizens. The fear for their jobs, and these organizations, as well as overall resentment was the cause of racial discrimination laws such as Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882. This law was initiated to disallow entry to Chinese immigrants not only that but they also disallowed Japanese newcomers the right to own land, this occurred about 38 years later (Peter 31).