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American Labor Movement

            Although industrialization was well under way by 1860, its full implications in politics, religion, industry, and most important in the laboring class were not apparent until after the Civil War. Statistics show the rapid transformation of the American economy in the postwar years: the improved railroad system, the increased output of iron and steel, the accelerated exploitation of natural resources, the multiplication of capital investment in industry, and the steady movement of immigrants into the cities and manufacturing centers. However, indices of industrial growth cannot measure the full impact of industrialization. It is statistics of production that really suggest the impact of industrial change on the producers: the laboring class. Just as industrialization drastically altered the processes of production, so it wrought significant changes in the American class structure. The introduction of new machinery made obsolete many of the skilled trades of the previous years, drawing the once self-respecting and independent handicraftsmen into the drudgery and monotony of factory life in which they where called upon to perform only one step in the automatic processes of mass production. Yet the most fascinating part of this new life style is the way those people -the working class- responded to the imposed and revolutionary changes of industrialization. They began to form labor unions in order to improve the economic and social well being of workers through group action. Industrialization marked the beginning of what is now called "The American Labor Movement", an institution that has changed in a great manner since the late 1960s.
             Starting in the early 19th century, the United States underwent an industrial revolution. The work that many people did changed as they moved from farms and small workshops into larger factories. That is how industrialization began to take place: by moving people from the countryside into the new manufacturing centers.

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