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CHAPTER 11. TECHNOLOGY, CULTURE, AND EVERYDAY LIFE, 1840-1860. Introduction to Ch. 11. Stitching by hand Pants – 3 hrs. Dress – 7 hrs. Stitching by machine Pants – 38 mins . Dress – 57 mins . 700-800 machines per year (1851) to 21,000 (1859) to 174,000 (1872).

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introduction to ch 11
Introduction to Ch. 11
  • Stitching by hand
    • Pants – 3 hrs.
    • Dress – 7 hrs.
  • Stitching by machine
    • Pants – 38 mins.
    • Dress – 57 mins.
  • 700-800 machines per year (1851) to 21,000 (1859) to 174,000 (1872)

Installment plans were adopted by Singer

  • Most machines were sold to factories
  • There was an upbeat response to technological change (God’s chosen instrument of progress)
  • Yet there was a darker side
    • Revolvers kill
    • Sweatshops formed
    • The urban decay

Hailed as democratic, the benefits of technology drew praise from all sides

  • Antebellum life was transformed
    • Steam engine, cotton gin, reaper, sewing machine, telegraph
  • Transportation and production increases = lower commodity prices
agricultural advancement
Agricultural Advancement
  • Westward expansion = opportunity for innovation and increase in production
  • John Deere’s steel-tipped plow busts up Midwestern soil, opening it up to wheat
  • Available timber builds homes and fences
  • Wheat is the Midwestern cotton

Agriculture innovations meet business enterprise

    • Cyrus McCormick’s offers deferred payments and money back guarantees
  • The Reaper harvested grain 7X faster with ½ the labor force
  • He sells 80,000 in 1860; 250,000 during the Civil War


    • Whitney (Conn. Yankee) helped the South
      • Solidified Cotton as King and made it more profitable
    • McCormick (Virginia Confederate) helped the North
      • North was the main market for the wheat and freed up workers to join the army

West was not conscientious of farming innovation yet

  • The East was much better – in an effort to compete with the amount coming out of the West
    • Plaster in Virginia
    • Quano in southern cotton
technology and industrial progress
Technology and Industrial Progress
  • American System
    • Interchangeable parts made American manufacture distinct
      • Replacement parts available
      • Enabled entrepreneurs to push inventions swiftly into mass production
        • Examples: Smith and Wesson from Colt; telegraph lines put up quickly to tackle fire communication
the railroad boom
The Railroad Boom
  • Americans were travelling first class (those allowed to ride)
  • Problems though
    • No brakes or lights, problems in scheduling and delays, and different gauges gradually give way to better conditions

Important: RR connects the East to the Midwest

    • Chicago replaces New Orleans as the interiors commercial hub
  • They also propels the growth of small towns on their route
    • Example: Illinois Central
    • Roads going E-W trees; N-S numbers
    • Land speculation along the lines was big time

Important to understand about the RR

    • Government financing contributes to private investment
    • Railroad financing and investing helps make the NYSE and New York what it becomes
rising prosperity
Rising Prosperity
  • From 1800 to 1850 prices drop and worker’s real income increases 25%
  • More work available all year lone
  • Women and children contribute more (they have to)
  • Despite some of the problems in quality of life in the cities, most in rural areas did not own farmland, etc.
    • The cities were better
quality of life dwellings con incon
Quality of Life; Dwellings, Con/Incon.
  • Patent offices flooded
  • Machine-made furniture provide taste; stoves provide heat; RR provide fresh food
  • The middle class may be a bit closer to the upper, but they both separate from the lower
  • Rowhouses and tenements vs. “Place” and “Square”
  • Running water and burning coal
    • Baths, sewage, and hogs
disease health and movements
Disease, Health, and Movements
  • Transportation increased spreading
  • Public calls for municipal health boards
    • Little confidence in conclusions of medical professionals
    • Contagion vs. miasma theories
  • Anesthesia helps improve image
  • Phrenology – example of invented science that improves simple “understanding”
  • 1830 – newspapers were 4 pages long with a circulation of 1,000-2,000
  • Journalists were loyal to some clique
  • Steam-driven cylindrical presses change everything (10X increase)
  • Newspaper now relied on circulation, not political subsidies
  • 1833- the Penny Press
  • So common newsboys sell on the streets
  • Topics become human-interest stories with actual reporters
  • New York Tribune and New York Herald
the theater
The Theater
  • All classes went to the shows
  • They were notoriously rowdy (prostitutes, etc.)
  • Most of the shows were Shakespearean, dumbed down for understanding and maybe even altered a bit
  • Short performances took up the interludes
minstrel shows
Minstrel Shows
  • Plays much into the American sense of racial superiority by diminishing blacks
    • Especially that of working-class whites
  • Blacks were docile, dancing around, stumbling over words, etc.
  • Songs such as “Dixie”, “Camptown Races”, “Oh Susannah”, “Old Folks Home” and “Carry Me Back to Old Virginny” started out as songs in minstrel shows.
p t barnum
P.T. Barnum
  • Recognized the opportunity to make money off of entertainment
  • He was a hustler
  • He bought an old museum, called it the American Museum, and created popular entertainment
    • Main goal was to prick public curiosity

Strong lecturer on the temperance circuit

  • He helped break down barriers that divided the pastimes of husbands and wives
roots of american renaissance
Roots of American Renaissance
  • What helped create this development?
    • Transportation innovations created a national market for books
    • The rise of philosophical movement known as Romanticism
      • it challenged the classical view of “standards of beauty being universal”
      • Also, it focused on the emotionally charged
  • The democratization of literature had begun

Writing fiction was the new genre

    • It did not require knowledge of Latin or Greek
    • The novel allowed for interpretation

James Fenimore Cooper

    • Created the distinctively American character, Natty Bumppo (Leatherstocking)

Ralph Waldo Emerson

    • Most influential spokesman for American Literary Nationalism
    • Transcendentalism – our ideas of God and freedom are inborn; knowledge resembles sight- an instantaneous and direct perception of truth
    • The American Scholar

Walt Whitman

    • Influenced by journalism and politics – kept him in touch with ordinary Americans
    • Leaves of Grass (shattered poetic conventions)
  • Henry David Thoreau
    • Rep. of the younger Emersonians
    • More action oriented
    • Civil Disobedience; Walden