US industrializing empire

In 1800, the U.S. was a moderately-sized agrarian republic. By the 1860s, the U.S. had become a continental, industrializing empire. How and why did this happen?
Use the book
The California Gold Rush: A Brief History with Documents (The Bedford Series in History and Culture) by Andrew Isenberg


In the 1800s, the United States had gained the Agricultural Revolution. The increased
in labor and land productivity was the main attribute that occurred between the 17 th and early
19 th centuries. The country experienced an unprecedented increase in agricultural
productivity. Agricultural output during the time was characterized by a steady increase as
compared to the population in the country. Besides, beyond the 1770s, the agricultural output
remained higher and was ranked best in the world. The increase in food supply was able to
support increase the growing population which would later turn out to be productive labor.
In the 1860s, the United States became a continental industrializing empire. The
increased agricultural production was able to support a good working force. The working
force provided cheap labor to the urban industries hence accelerating industrialization.
Therefore, the growth of industrialization in the 1860s is linked with the agrarian revolution
that supplied food for the working force. The study will, therefore, establish the factors that
led the United States to attain the industrial empire title in by 1860s.
Reasons for Industrial Growth

The industrial growth in the United States was supported by the growth of agricultural
technologies. The technologies were able to spur production of food by more than twice the
previous production that the country was producing. The agricultural technologies that the United States employed include crop rotation, the introduction of mechanization and
conversion of pasture land to arable land.

Crop Rotation

Crop rotation was one of the most important innovations during the agricultural
revolution. The country mostly applied the Norfolk four-course rotation that was also tested
by Britain to increase the productivity of both crops and livestock due to improved soil
fertility and reduced fallow erosion. Through the Norfolk four-rotation, the farmers were able
to grow the dissimilar type of crops in the same piece of land in sequential seasons.
According to Isenberg, n.d (pg 20.), the rotation practice assisted in restoring the plants'
nutrients and mitigated the growth of pests and diseases. In addition, crop rotation improved
the soil structures and fertility due to the alternation of deep and shallow-rooted crops. One of
the advantages of the Norfolk four-rotation was that it utilized and demand labor when the
factor of production was not in the peak season hence reducing competition for works.

Introduction of Selective Breeding

In the early 1800s, the United States had developed the technology of selective breeding.
The technology was borrowed from Robert Bakewell and Thomas Coke who introduced the
science of mating two animals with desired characteristics. In addition, the country developed
the science of inbreeding which was aimed at mating closely related breeds to stabilize some
desired qualities. According to Isenberg, n.d(pg 70.), the selection of breeds to rare reduced
the chances of genetic diversity. The use of breeding science increased the size and quality of
the animals produced.


Conversion of Pasture Land

In the late 1760s, the United States introduced the practice of converting more of the
land that previously under pasture to arable farms. According to many agrarians, the arable
land was more productive as compared to the previous pasture land that only supported
livestock rearing. The growth of arable land between 1760 and 1780 grew by 10-30% which
was able to support more crop farming. The increasing population also forced the farmers to
take advantage of any arable land as a way of maximizing production. Besides, technologies
such as canal building, soil drainage, soil restoration and maintenance, and land reclamation
technologies were also applied to increase the arable land.
New Agricultural Equipments

The agricultural revolution was also boosted by the invention of advanced tools. The
tools included the seed drill, plough, and threshing machine. The plough technology was
borrowed from the Dutch contractors. In the 1770s the use of the plough was integrated with
iron to make stronger. The technology reduced the amount of labor that was required during
the planting season. The reduced labor requirement in the farms increased the availability of
labor in the industries. The seed drill machine in the United State was a technology that was
imported from China and Italy. Both China and Italy used technology during the mid 16 th
century. In the United States, the technology was imported in the year 1790 and the machine
led to increased efficiency in sowing.
The sowing of seeds after the introduction of the machine was characterized by correct
depths and improved the efficiency of spacing. Before the introduction of the seed drill,,
most of the farmers in the United States were using the broadcasting method to plant their
crops. The method was accompanied by lots of wastages as most of the seeds that were planted using the method were exposed to mice, insects, and birds which reduced yields. The cutting down of the seed planted increased the quantities of harvested crops by more than five times. Moreover, the Americans adopted the use of thresher which reduced the amount of labor required during husking. Before the introduction of the machine, farmers in the United States used their hands to thresh the seeds from the stalks after harvesting which was tiresome. The use of the machine by American farmers reduced substantial farm labor and the workforce was utilized in the industries.

Moreover, the United States introduces the Enclosure Act which was aimed at the
removal of traditional rights attached to the use of land to introduce the restricted ownership
of land. In the traditional form of land ownership, the community had the right such as
grazing of livestock, and collection of firewood. The introduction of land ownership
increased the utilization of the piece of land that individuals were allocated. The government
introduced systems such as the title deeds and land ownership to indicate ownership. The
government also introduced the enforcement of the fencing system around all the agricultural
farms. The enclosing of land was also attained by the process of buying the right to
exclusively use the land. The process of enclosing the land led to many people been losing
farm due to a lack of funds to buy the right to use the land. The high number of people, who
were rendered landless, migrated to the nearby cities to search for work. The large enclosed
farms increased the yield of both crops and animals by more than three-time. Therefore, the
fight against the laws removing common land use by the poor and the church was not taken
into consideration by the government. The main reason that facilitated the government not to
incorporate the consideration of removing the laws of the land enclosure was that the
advantages in terms of agricultural production associated as the enforcer of the land enclosure
out-weighed the common land use.


Availability of new Markets

Between 1500-1750, the world markets were full of regulations and free trade was did
not make it in the world. In the 1790s, there was the development of private marketing
agencies that marketed the agricultural produced commodities. Also, during the 1790s there
was a shift from the production of agricultural commodities for family consumption to
production for the market (Isenberg, n.d pg 70.). Moreover, the market radius for agricultural
commodities grew tremendously to support the over 100,000 sprouting towns. In addition,
agricultural products were also marketed to other European nations. The marketing systems
were also improved by the introduction of improved wagons for transportation.

Expanding Economy

The agrarian revolution expanded the availability of disposable capital. The
Agricultural sector increased the revenue from both exports and taxes. The revenue formed
ready capital to study new industries and businesses that led to industrialization. The capital
formed from agriculture also funded the development and construction of other technologies
such as factory machines and railroads. The expansion of the economy also facilitated
political stability. Besides, the United States introduced new business practices in which the
entrepreneurs selling agricultural commodities become highly valued. The integration in the
economy eliminated competition from the imports from foreign products hence facilitating
the growth of the industries in the United States (Isenberg, n.d pg 90.). The growth of the
agrarian revolution also facilitated the growth of service industries to provide services such as
warehousing and banking for both businessmen and farmers. Lastly, the agricultural output
acted as a source of raw material to facilitate the growth of the home industries.


Significance of the Agrarian Revolution

The agrarian revolution marked a turning point for the performance of United States
industries. The data available suggest that a growth of over 3.1 folds of agricultural was
recorded in the Unites states between 1790 to 1860. The drastic increase in agriculture gave
birth to many industries in early 1800. The increase of over 60% yield of grain the country
called for a proportionate increase in industries and population.
Social impact

The increase in the growth of the agricultural sector resulted to a rapid increase in
population in the United States. Therefore, the increased population facilitated rural to urban
migration. The increased population in the town had no choice other than to provide cheap
labor that industrialization depended on. The increase in agriculture also served as the source
of food for the growing population in the cities.

The growth of the United States to the industrial empire in the 1860s is as a result of
the growth of agriculture. The agricultural sector in the country sector facilitated resource in
terms of food for the working force and also raw material for the industries. The steady
growth of agriculture was as a result of technological advancement that many countries
during the time did not access. The technology that the US enjoyed in the 1800s is still a
challenge up to today in developing nations which pulls them down toward establishing an
industrial empire.


Work Cited
Isenberg, A. The California gold rush: A Brief History with Documents (The Bedford Series
in History and Culture)