Change in Life from Antebellum to the New Deal Essay

This essay has a total of 1368 words and 6 pages.

Change in Life from Antebellum to the New Deal

Modern America can be considered one of the world's economic and industrial leaders. This
didn't happen instantaneously. It was a long process that took centuries to occur from
when America was first colonized by England. America started slow and far behind England
and other European countries in the technology race but a diverse culture and the work
ethic of American people all helped to push this country forward. From antebellum America
in the 19th century, to the Progressive Era in the late 19th century and early 20th
century, and finally to the New Deal period in the 20th century, many changes occurred as
millions of people lives were affected greatly during this time. Throughout these eras in
U.S. history, there was a general improvement in the lives of most Americans from the
progression of economic life.

During the antebellum period, the United States was a predominantly pre-industrial
society. There were very few factories open at this time. Most of the factory workers were
from rural and village cultures. These jobs usually required no skill or knowledge and
were quite simple to learn. Working conditions in factories were at its worst with
extremely low pay, long workdays, and dangerous conditions.

Most workers remained as farmers and artisans. They devoted their lives to their work and
were skilled at their jobs. Artisans usually worked closely with agrarians to make
different products. Farmers worked the fields, growing crops and raising livestock. Their
work would occasionally become easier from new tools made by artisans. Women during this
time were housewives. They were doing everything at home. They took care of the children,
the house, and the food for the family. Sometimes, life demanded that they work the fields
with their husbands. Most women did not have jobs outside the home but a small number did
work outside in factory jobs.

There was a great influx of immigrants at this time. Many of them worked at factories,
usually taking the lowest paying positions available. Their different cultures and work
habits often caused many problems because they were not accustomed to the American
customs. Most of the immigrants chose to settle in American cities, where most jobs were
located. As a result, the cities became extremely crowded. Housing in cities became a
major problem from the large number of immigrants. Most of the immigrants did find jobs,
although they often worked in jobs that most native-born Americans would not take. Over
time, the immigrants were able to improve their own conditions through hard work and

In the Progressive Era, there numerous reforms were made in an attempt to curb corruption
in the government and industry. This occurred in the late 19th century and ended in the
early 20th as American industry boomed. Slowly, America was being recognized as one of the
industrial leaders in the world. The immigrants that came during the antebellum period to
the Progressive Era gave cities a large and cheap labor. They only needed a way to utilize
all of it efficiently. When the assembly line was devised, there was a huge boom in
factories. The large number of immigrants caused factory owners to focus on profits and
disregard to working conditions. This gave birth to the Progressive Era, when many social
and political groups, called the Progressives, tried to reform both the factories and the

For factory workers, their working conditions were usually dangerous, which resulted in
high accident rates. They worked twelve hours six days a week. Factory workers had little
rights. Because of the surplus in workers, factory owners could easily replace injured,
dead, or disobedient workers. So Progressives advocated on better conditions. They pushed
for an eight-hour workday, a ban on child labor, and government regulation of working
conditions. Slowly, skilled artisans and factory workers alike found themselves replaced
by machinery. Because it was so hard to keep a steady job, workers often joined unions,
which were illegal at the time. Near the end of the Progressive Era, reformists were able
to secure an eight-hour workday and the legalization of unions, although the ban on child
labor was consistently being challenged by the courts.

For American farmers, this was hard time indeed. With competition among markets and big
businesses, the demand and value of crops began to fall. New technology also increased
crop yields for those who could afford it. This was especially hard for farmers as this
was their source of income and only means to support their families. The growth of trusts,
especially railroad trusts, further hurt small farmers because they raised prices and
offered enormous discounts to large farmers. Not only was there a decrease in demand, but
small farmers also had to pay ridiculous fees to transport their goods to markets.
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