Why the U.S Western Expansion, the Gilded Age, the Period of Industrial Revolution and Modernization Should be Studied Together

The American West's Expansion

The Gilded Age, the Industrial Revolution, and Modernization all occurred in the latter half of the nineteenth century almost simultaneously and were influenced by related forces. Traveling to the west required about two to three months in 1865 because there were no major railroads connecting the U.S. to the region. The concept of westward expansion helped spur the development of important infrastructure, such as the railroads, to facilitate travel to the region. The development of the transcontinental railroad and other foundations can be termed as both a part of and a boost to the industrial revolution. After the passing of the Homestead Act in 1962, settlers moved to the west and claimed land for development purposes, and after five years, the homesteader's paid a fee for the titles of those areas. More Americans including those of African descent moved out west to own land. Furthermore, the westward expansion saw ranchers, miners and settles collide with some of the Native Americans who were initially occupying the lands. That forced the government to ask for the assimilation of the Indians who were willing to be Americanized and those who did not remain in the reservations. That movement to the west was simultaneous with the industrial revolution in the western region with gold mining as some of the top activities.

The Link Between Westward Expansion and the Industrial Revolution

The westward expansion and industrial revolution caused the need for more human labor other than the slave labor that was present in America. There was a need for an increase in labor, and that saw millions of immigrants from Europe and other parts come to America to work. The growing industries, new businesses, and corporations gave way to mega-rich individuals within the society. These economic improvements were mainly taking place in the west and the north and the period was referred to as the Gilded Age. The link between the westward expansion and industrial revolution can be seen in their contribution to the production of ultra-rich individuals in a society that still had impoverished people making the period to be referred to as the Gilded Age.

Transformation in the Gilded Age

The Gilded Age period was marked by transformation in technology, economy, social customs and government of America. Small regional communities transformed into modern national industrial society. Furthermore, there was continued immigration with many moving to the west; there was the creation of machine politics and social movements for reform. The migration and expansion of the direction in the late 19th century spurred the growth of the American society. Industrial workers needs became more critical, and the political scenes were filled with the difference in the needs of the rural and urban populations plus the needs of the classes created by the abolition of slavery and industrialization.

The Influence of Westward Expansion on the Gilded Age and Modernization

The westward expansion and the industrial revolution took place simultaneously and influenced each other. The desire to conquer the western territories was made more accessible by the ongoing industrialization which eased transportation of people and goods. Furthermore, the increase in some immigrants to the west boosted industrial labor and activities that helped grow the economy to the level of having very wealthy people during the Gilded Age. Apart from that, the presence of immigrants from different parts of the globe, the abolition of slavery, the industrial revolution and the assimilation of some of the Indian tribes to the American society contributed to modernization. Based on that, westward expansion appears to have had a direct or indirect link to the Gilded Age, Industrial Revolution and modernization and should, therefore, be studied together.

Works Cited

Foner, Eric. Give Me Liberty! An American History. W.W. Norton & Company, 2011

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