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Expansion of the West during the Industrial Revolution

During the Industrial Revolution time period many factors contributed to the rapid expansion of the West. Even though there were several constructive results from inventions a vast amount of harmful consequences. The improvements made were great but they came with disastrous economic and political cost.

One of these great improvements was the construction of the railroad. This helped many Americans who planned to travel west on the newly completed Trans-Continental Railroad, although it was quite expensive to travel on the rail it was faster. It would take about one week to travel using the railroad compared to the six months journey. Another advantage of taking the railroad is the fact that you were in no immediate danger and you were not in the weather. Towns sprung up all along the railways, increasing the population in the west dramatically over a small amount of time. Instead of unmarried young men traveling west, you had whole families traveling. With the increasing need for labor to help build the Trans-Continental Railroad, waves of immigrants traveled to the west. Irish and other immigrants were brought into the United States to help with the growing demand of workers. When the job of building the Trans-Continental Railroad was over many immigrants stayed in the west. By staying in the west the immigrants help create racial tension between them and the American Settlers. This racial tension led to further problems, and these problems happen to be one of the consequences of expansionism.

Another factor that played in the settlement of the west was the Homestead Act of 1862. The Homestead Act gave 160 acres of land to anyone who would pay 10$ registration fee and pledge to live on the land and cultivate it for five years. This act set off mass immigration by Europeans who were amazed by a country that gave it’s land away, many Americans also took a hold of this opportunity to get free land. The Homestead Act did not work as planned, very few people could afford to move west, buy farm equipment, and have enough money to support their family for a year or two before the farming became productive. Congress tried to fix the Homestead Act with the Timber Culture act, which was the western version of the Homestead Act. This act passed in 1873 was a success, it entitled the settlers to another 160 acres if they planted trees on a quarter of it, it gave the necessary land for farmers and gave much needed forestation to the west. Another act that was pushed hard for the west was the Desert Land Act of 1877 this act was supported by cattle ranchers 640 acres at 1.25$ and acre.

Many of our nations factories that contributed greatly to the industrial era, also had major downfalls. These factories contributed to poor living conditions, poor wages, child labor, and numerous other political and economical problems. They also contributed to growing gap between the rich industrial tycoons and the poor factory workers. Then many investors got into the railroad business, which caused fierce competition between companies, by not working together they caused there own problems. They ended up with railroad rails that changed gauges every town, this meant they where no longer useable. By doing this they sent the economy into a recession, the Panic of 1893 caused by the railroad companies who would not work together, the economy was saved by bankers who took control of the railroads which solved many of he economic problems that were caused by the railroad companies.

The vary same things that helped to expand the country and make it great, also created problems. It is not to say that these problems could have been prevented, although greedy men did not create all of the problems of this era, they created a majority of them. These failures and achievement of our country has molded us into the country we are today, we have laws in place to protect us from money hungry business men, and we are now protected from having a recession by government

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