Steel Industry & American History Changes in the 1890-1920s

Subject: History
Pages: 2
Words: 305
Reading time:
< 1 min

The development of the steel industry in the 1890s accentuated the shift of the American economy from relying on agriculture to growing industries. The steel industry played a key role in the process during the years between 1890 and the New Deal. Consequently, the changes in the progress of the steel industry can tell much about American history during that period because all new social and economic trends were reflected in the development of this industry.

The changes in the steel industry can serve as illustrations to discuss the major changes in American history. The reason is that, in the 1890s, the steel industry appeared as the response to making the American economy oriented toward such productive and competitive industries as coal, iron, and steel ones. Steel companies were among the first ones to organize mergers (vertical and horizontal integration) and develop as large corporations. As a result, it was rather problematic for employees to protect their rights and interests. During and after WWI, the steel industry was in some decline along with other industries in the country. The Steel Strike in 1919 reflected labor unrest trends in the country as steelworkers wanted to change their working conditions. Still, the strike resulted in decreasing the impact of labor unions and increasing social tensions. This situation was correlated with the overall employment and labor issue in the US.

In the 1920s, changes in the working hours per day in the steel industry influenced all other industries. Furthermore, during the Great Depression, the steel industry was among the first ones to cut wages for employees, decreasing the number of full-time workers. Thus, it is possible to state that almost all significant changes in the American economy during the discussed period started from alterations in the steel industry.