Agriculture To Industry Essay, Research Paper
Agriculture to Industry One of the founding fathers of America had his own idea of how the American economy should operate. Thomas Jefferson, one of the most educated of the Fathers, envisioned the United States’ to be an agriculturally based nation. Many respected his idea, but it was destined to fail. When the colonies were founded in the early to mid sixteenth century their priority was agriculture. They needed food, shelter, and goods to relay back to England. In return, the colonists received manufactured products (such as furniture) from England. This system worked for many years. When new agricultural products appeared, such as sugarcane, a new market was founded, one with other European countries that England proclaimed off limits. Now there was no doubt that the Americas had much to offer the rest of the world. After the American Revolution, the leaders debated how the economy should work. As mentioned, Thomas Jefferson asserted that an economy based on agriculture and agricultural goods was the best route. However, Mr. Jefferson did not foresee the one thing that doomed his ideal America. He saw only the foreshadowing of this historic change. The war of 1812 with England over trade routes with France and other countries changed Jefferson’s mind. However, this was only a hint of what the Industrial Revolution would bring. He saw the importance of industry during wartime and how effective it was when battling for the future of The United States economy and its people. He saw the U.S. becoming more urban than he thought it would. Why was this? What made people opt for the city over the farm? In order for a civilization to survive through the years one problem needed to be solved. Many civilizations perished for they did not answer the question of how to obtain man’s material want through the material scarcity. A civilization must meet the needs of a two- pronged dilemma; production and distribution. America was plentiful in the resources department. The means of tapping into those resources was, in many minds of the day, solved. Man had the ability to maintain farms and crops, cultivate new ones, and irrigate land that needed to be farmed. One problem was that the large farms were away from the urban areas. This meant travel time which in turn meant rotting of food or spoilage. Another was that the population could not grow if the production could not keep up. If everyone had their own farm then they could feed themselves. Farming in those days was not an easy living by any means. Hard, manual labor was needed throughout long days. The hard life of survival usually meant short life spans. Man and beast limited the amount of output a farm could produce. If only there were a way that would let the farmer cultivate faster, easier, and more abundantly. There was, only no one saw it coming. Steam powered machinery, tractors and other tools sprang to life during the Industrial Revolution. This allowed more to be produced at a faster, cheaper, and easier way. Hired hands were no longer needed. This saved the farmer money and the amount of the production brought in more money. Food became abundant. Now that the problem of production was basically solved through the inventions and innovations of steam powered tools and machines, distribution was left. “Obviously, the system of distribution deeply influences the level of individual scarcity. The more equitable the distribution of goods and wealth, the greater share of every person. An inequitable distribution meant that the privileged few lived well while the rest had to content themselves with what was leftover.” Again, steam was used to help alleviate this problem. The steamboat made travelling up river a lot easier. Trade became quicker between inland areas and coastal areas. The goods could be brought to the urban areas where there were more people who were not working extra hard on the farm and shortening their lives. This system was amplified with the railroad being implemented. The railway was a lot faster, safer and more reliable than the steamboat. It could travel anywhere on land, as opposed to being restricted to rivers and other waterways, in any weather and the return was just as fast as the first leg of the trip. The United States Government had the opportunity to pass laws restricting the use of the new inventions if they wanted to keep the U.S. as an agricultural society. But, with the Louisiana Purchase, Manifest Destiny and all these new inventions that could sustain a large population, the government decided that going urban was the key to prosperity (maybe because most of the politicians had some stock in these new inventions). Communications were vastly improved so now news traveled many times faster and was more accurate. Factories created new labor techniques as well as labor relations. A market economy expanded from local to regional to national to international levels almost overnight. This made it easier for the country to become industrial and city-centered. The United States became an international market. To stay agricultural while other countries went industrial would have meant either being left behind in the technology race or being conquered by one of these nations needing the vastness of the American land. Last but not least industry made it possible for the southern plantation owners to free the slaves, reluctantly, and use machines instead of man. The Industrial Revolution made living in large cities possible. It brought raw materials, such as coal, to the farms, the farming goods to the city, the city goods (science, art, crafts, military needs) to the nation and other nations. In return the U.S. grew larger, faster, smarter through universities, and became a powerful nation in the awful wars to come. Needless to say that if the United States stayed agricultural Europe could have lost World War One and would have lost World War Two and German would have been spoken in a lot more places. On the other hand, large cities are the centers of poverty, homelessness, crime, disease, pollution, and corruption. While these are common in urban areas they are not the products of urbanization, save pollution. They are the products of imperfect capitalism that I will not venture into any further. What the Industrial revolution did was catapult the nations of the world further into technological breakthroughs. With these breakthroughs and advances man can come closer to the understandings of truth, science, freedom and exploration. Thomas Jefferson was one of America’s most brilliant thinkers, but even the most brilliant cannot see into the future. What was the one thing Jefferson did not see coming as asked earlier? The answer is the Industrial Revolution. If the War of 1812 surprised him, the Industrial Revolution would have floored him. He had the right idea, but drastic changes call for some drastic rethinking. An agricultural economy would have worked if it had not been for the many inventions in the mid-nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.