Term Paper: Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries Saw

Pages: 4 (1236 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 1+  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Drama - World  ·  Buy This Paper

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[. . .] In the United States, for example, when the Union Pacific Railroads traversed the thousands of miles of American soil; often, if the railways failed to pass through an existing town, the people moved away; in fact, new towns and cities were often formed by virtue of where the railroads converged. This began another large trend that would continue to this day: the urbanization of the developed world.

Essentially, it was during the nineteenth century that an increasing number of people began to move away from rural farming communities and into the city. This was made possible by the vast distances that goods and foods could be transported. In other words, cities were able to be supported by larger areas of land because these new modes of transportation could supply people's needs with greater efficiency. The move to the city was also fostered by what came to be known as the Industrial Revolution. This revolution began in cloth factories in England, but soon spread throughout Europe and the Americas, and altered the manner in which many previously home made goods were produced. Businessmen discovered that they could increase production and lower costs by setting up massive plants by which products could be manufactured far more quickly. This generated far more urban jobs, thus contributing greatly to the swelling western cities.

This new form of manufacturing also managed to drastically increase the quality and quantity of military weaponry. The American Civil War, seeded by the American Revolution, drove much of this advancement in warfare, with disastrous results. Guns produced in independent factories became more reliable, more powerful, more accurate, and far more easy to handle. However, by the 1860's military tactics had changed little since Napoleon's time. This lead to casualties and carnage on a massive scale; unmatched until the First World War. The war did, however, formally unify the United States and abolish slavery in the Americas.

Overall, many of the political ideals that brought about the American and French Revolutions at the end of the eighteenth century were still being fought to realize throughout the nineteenth century. Specifically, the sweeping proclamation that "all men are created equal." This statement, accepted by self-evidence, demanded that a number of things change in the order and organization of western society. After all, if all men are equal, slavery is completely unjustified. Also, if all men are created equal, it brings into question the legitimacy of social positions held by the powerful and the wealthy. "Debates over the criteria for political fitness, a legacy from the eighteenth century, became a staple of public debates across Europe and the Untied States in the Victorian age, dramatizing once again the divisions characterizing the middle orders." (Gay 16). The fact that political rights were extended to the middle and lower classes grated ideological credence to the woes of poverty and the needs of the common man. The nineteenth century saw this played out through the Napoleonic Revolution, the American Civil War, and through the consequences of the Industrial Revolution.

However, nineteenth century advancements in travel and communications also facilitated the era of imperialism. European countries and the United States could now feasibly subjugate a foreign community and reap the benefits in raw materials and exports. This equality between men, unfortunately, only applied to members of an existing nation; so, the imperialist powers were able to take advantage of railways and steamships to break-up Africa and South America depending upon their own needs. The consequences of these actions are still being felt today, as formerly colonial states seek stability after western interference.

Works Cited:

1. Ashby, Ruth. Around the World in 1800. New York: Benchmark, 2003.

2. Chamberlin,… [END OF PREVIEW]

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