The Industrial Age began in Britain in the early 1800s and spread throughout the world in two waves. Historians vary in dating the Industrial Age because no exact dates mark its beginning and end, as well as the fact that the two waves overlap. The first one, fully realized in the 1830’s merged with the second wave in the 1850’s in the wake of steam- powered ships and railways. While technology and economics rode an all-time high worldwide, unrest also stirred as the Industrial Age coincided with the War Between the States (also known as the Civil War 1861—1965).
Before the Industrial Revolution, economics and income depended on farming and cottage industries like weaving, carding wool, and other small business ventures. With the sharp population growth in the U.S., fanning could no longer feed and support entire families, resulting in a large number of people moving to the cities to find work. They found jobs in factories that manufactured items like textiles, machine parts and railroad equipment.
Many social issues arose in the cities during this time leading to the formation of “societies” that rallied around specific social causes, including factory conditions, tenement housing, women’s suffrage and slavery, just to name a few. The rich (factory owners) got richer, and the poor (factory workers) got poorer—a recipe for discontent that sparked an uprising and restructuring of the social system.
While most people associate the Civil War with slavery issues, historians pinpoint economics, religion, rebellion, the industrial movement, and discontent on the part of both the North and South as other contributing causes for the War Between the States. No one in the U.S. remained untouched by the tragedy of the “Great Unpleasantness,” as many southern ladies referred to the war.
Reconstruction marked the latter part of the 1800s as both the North and South attempted to recover socially and economically after paying such an enormous toll in lives and livelihood. The South also had to deal with the physical devastation that resulted from the battles fought primarily in the southern states.