Industrialization and Modern America


Industrial Revolution
Before the Industrial Revolution, most Americans lived on farms or in small towns. They rarely traveled far from home.

The Industrial Revolution was a time of new inventions and new ways of making products. During this time, new industries, or businesses, caused such dramatic changes that together they are called a “revolution.” Many Americans moved to cities and took jobs in factories and offices. 

The Industrial Revolution allowed people and goods to move faster over longer distances.  It began in the early 1800s, and continued into the 20th century, bringing inventions such as electric lights and telephones into people’s homes. Cars replaced horses and carriages. Huge buildings called skyscrapers were built in cities. Everything seemed to be getting bigger and faster.

World War I
World War I started because of competition and mistrust between several European countries. 

For years, European nations built up their armies and navies. Alliances were formed between countries and they promised to fight together if war broke out.

In the summer of 1914, World War I broke out in Europe because of a disagreement between Russia and Austria-Hungary. Soon, this disagreement involved their allies, too. When the war ended four years later, more than 9 million soldiers and 5 million citizens were dead.

Great Depression 1929-1939 After World War I, the U.S. economy grew steadily. Suddenly, the good times came to an end. Beginning in 1929, America entered the period of hardship known as the Great Depression.

After the crash of the stock market, people went to the banks to take their money out. The banks had loaned the money out and had no way of getting it back. As a result, many Americans lost all of their savings. Soon, banks were closing everywhere. This was the beginning of the Great Depression.

World War 2
1939 -1945
Adolf Hitler told Germans that the treaty that ended World War I was unfair. He said that Germany should take back the land it had lost and gain new territory besides. He also preached hatred against people whom he saw as enemies, such as the Jewish people of Europe.

In 1939, war broke out in Europe. In 1941, Japan attact the United States and brought the United States into the war on the side of France and the Soviet Union. By 1945, Germany was defeated and Japan had surrendered.

Six million Jews were murdered by Hitler’s followers during World War II.

The Cold War
1949 - 1991
The Cold War was not an actual war, it was a struggle over types of government and ways of life. The United States favored a democratic government and economy. The Soviet Union favored a system called Communism.

Throughout the Cold War, the United States and the Soviet Union each raced to produce the most nuclear weapons.

The Civil Rights Movement
1954 - 1965
The Civil War ended slavery in the United States, but African Americans continued to face discrimination, or unfair treatment. In the 1950s and 1960s, more and more people joined together to end discrimination. The struggle for equal rights for all Americans was called the Civil Rights movement. 

Martin Luther King, Jr. was one of the most important leaders of the Civil Rights movement. He believed in nonviolent, or peaceful, protest. His bravery and powerful speeches touched the hearts of millions of people.

The Civil Rights movement resulted in a number of laws that protect the rights of all Americans. It also inspired other groups, such as Mexican Americans and women to fight against unfair treatment.

The Twentith Centery
1900 - 1999
The 20th century, or the 1900s, was a time of great change in technology and ways of life.  In the 1900s, or 20th century, telephones, cars, and airplanes became common. Radio and television were invented. By the end of the century, computers were commonplace.

Information Age
1941 - present
After World War II, new inventions, such as television and computers, changed the way people communicate and share information. This change was so dramatic that the period from 1941 to today has been called the start of the Information Age.

The Information Age picked up speed with the development of the Internet (World Wide Web). The Internet allowed computers to communicate and share information.  The Web brought pictures and sounds to the Internet and made using it easier. Now people could send instant messages around the world.