Second Industrial Revolution

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By — McGraw-Hill Professional
Updated on Feb 4, 2012

Technological Revolutions

During the Industrial Revolution of the early 1800s, the development of steam power and the cotton gin had drastically changed American society and had caused the economy to explode. At midcentury, the Second Industrial Revolution shook up society and the economy once again. Innovations, new techno- logical processes, and new machines appeared throughout the last half of the nineteenth century.

The development of the Bessemer process was the most important factor in the success of the Second Industrial Revolution. Henry Bessemer of Great Britain and William Kelly of the U.S. both discovered a new, efficient way to convert iron ore into steel. This method, called the Bessemer process, led to a rise in steel production, which in turn made many things possible. Steel was needed for railroad rails tracks, train parts, machines and engines of all types, and the girders of buildings.

Steel gave the United States a completely different appearance. The continent that had been pastoral and relatively undisturbed by anything man-made during the days was now heavily populated with cities full of skyscrapers, rail- roads crossing from one ocean to the other, and heavy machinery everywhere.

This table shows some of the key inventions and technological breakthroughs of the Second Industrial Revolution.

Second Industrial Revolution Inventions

US History Second Industrial Revolution Invention Inventors

Practice questions for these concepts can be found at:

The Glided Age and the Rise of Big Business Practice Test

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