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How Did Industrialization Either Increase or Decrease Freedom in the Late Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Century United States?

United States history had witnessed a major turning point during the era of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century in the form of the industrial revolution. The renowned second wave of industrialization shifted the agrarian and handy craft national economy to heavy mechanization and massive industrial manufacturing. Such a revolution dissected almost every aspect of human life into multiple divisions, which widened over time. Undoubtedly, it sprouted a massive volume of factory-produced goods, but common people’s lives were filled with glitches and complications. The notion of prevailing prosperity and development had charged a high cost from the life of the common public instead of a very small percentage of the aristocratic and elite class. In other words, industrialization and huge corporations severely decreased freedom in its second wave in the country. This paper will explore decreased freedom due to industrialization resulting in the exploitation of poor and lower middle class, amplified child labor, mechanizing humanitarian life, and concentrated wealth in few hands in American society. Additionally, it snatched aesthetic sense and gave birth to inadequate and overcrowded dwellings along with health issues due to augmented pollution all around.

Undoubtedly, Shifting to industrialization has snatched and decreased the freedom of the massive common public. For example, it heavily exploited the general working class in a dual dimension. Firstly the living standard of experienced and skilled personals and craftsperson diminished within years. They could not compete with the emerging industrialization based on goods quantity and manufacturing speed. Secondly, the stark exploitation of factory workers with almost no laws, low wages, deteriorated facilities, and consecutive work for long hours (Mohajan, 2019). Such workers were treated like animals and inhumane ways by the factory owners. Specifically, it bred an inhuman salvage period for the working class to embellish ‘profit maximization’ and to accomplish lust of wealth.

Meanwhile, the worst episode started with the emergence and enhanced child labor. A vast number of slums were established, and the childhood freedom of humanity was transformed into wealth production. Industrialization decorated the life of a common person with such hardships and disturbances that people had left no choice to make their children apprentices and servants to others (Mohajan, 2019). Though child labor was not an invention of mechanization and industrialization, but it reached a zenith during this period. It resulted in stunted mental and physical growth of children along with sexual violence and brutality. In other words, human generations experienced shrinkage of freedom at a very early age due to the industrial revolution.

Furthermore, the principal fallouts of industrialization reclined with the enhanced wave of materialism. Money had become the mode by which humans started to exchange services. For this purpose, the humanitarian life was totally transformed into a mechanical life. Humans were treated like machines, and the freedom of the commoner for his life vanished from the masses. Development, competition, economic prosperity, and more goods engulfed personal freedom over decades. Human life on the part of the working class became a feeding entity for more production and profit. Hence proportional demand and high consumption by the world population gifted American man a mechanical life instead of humanitarian life.

Moreover, such mechanization and the evolved economic system took the final shape of private ownership and profit maximization. The rise of capitalism replaced free lives into economically bound lives of general masses with a concentration of wealth (Han et al. 2021). Such concentration of wealth among aristocratic and blue-blooded classes allowed them to snatch the freedom of commoners. While, the overall power of such accumulated wealth fabricated social, economic, and political systems upon which the elite class dominated. Multiple rules, regulations, and policies specifically gave advantage to the upper class of our society, and huge masses were captured for their basic necessities of life.

Similarly, another feature of heavy mechanization in the USA was the emergence of urban societies by smashing rural living. Agrarian class speedily became factory working class, and they migrated towards cities (Atack et al. 2021). Meanwhile, many migrants from other countries of the world moved to the USA. So, the rise in population and urbanization sprouted problems of dwellings. Overall inadequate facilities of housing, sanitation, drinking water, and a healthy environment became a hindrance to the free life of both natives and migrants. Such a trend proved an explosion, and the general public had to observe reduced opportunities in this regard. In addition, industrialization destroyed the environment by non-control pollution. Augmented pollution and disturbing ecological pattern were vivid consequences of industrialization. Similarly, Chemical emissions and health hazard effluents played havoc on the human health of the common public. Besides individual freedom, this miserable condition also affected the overall weather pattern and climate fabric of the whole earth.

Last but not least, the unprecedented levels of industrialization decreased the freedom of commoners. Heavy mechanization and huge corporations resulted in huge wealth for the small elite class and enormous malfunctions for the larger population in the United States. The social fabric of American society badly deteriorated, and people had to pay the high cost of modern development in the form of their freedom. From children to old ones, men to women, native to immigrant, and worker to executive, all had to compromise their liberty and will to lead a free life. Hazardous and severe impacts in the form of exploitation of workers and children, accumulation of wealth, settlement problems, and curse of pollution had decreased freedom. Such decreased freedom has great motive and significance in putting society and upset units in the right direction, where humans cannot bind to lead captured and slave lives. The impacts of industrialization are also vivid in contemporary US society. The need of the hour is to transform the social fabric towards the freedom of humans.


Atack, J., Margo, R. A., & Rhode, P. W. (2021). Industrialization and urbanization in nineteenth century America. Regional Science and Urban Economics, 103678.

Han, Y., Snow, A., & Warren, R. S. (2021). Changes in the productive efficiency of US flour mills in the late nineteenth century: an input-distance-function approach. Journal of Productivity Analysis, 1-18.

Mohajan, H. (2019). The second industrial revolution has brought modern social and economic developments.



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