But not everything was a turn for the worse for the average working American. For example the demand for expedient delivery of goods in across industries helped develop the railroad system. But this incidentally helped the transportation and communication needs of the common man. Likewise the imperatives of economies of scale and attendant mass production of goods meant that the common American availed them at a cheaper price. The American worker, while enjoying these benefits of economy and availability, did lose his craftsmanship and individual creativity in the confines of the factory.
The great behemoth factories for manufacturing clothes or utilities provided employment opportunities for all classes and groups of people. This is so because the skill levels required to perform factory jobs are very minimal. This meant that American women will have their first exposure to American industry. The patriarchal mindset prevalent in 19th century America offered resistance to the integration of women into the work force. But ultimately, the imperatives of cost-efficiencies and labor market surplus broke through this resistance. There were pros and cons to this development. Most women enjoyed their new found economic independence and took pride in being able to contribute monetarily to their families. Yet the raucous, mechanized and high-pressure environment of a factory did not give them scope to express their innate talents and inclinations. Also, since laws on child-labor were non-existent in the late 19th century, children were also brought into the workforce. This experience would certainly have been harsh for them.
Black Americans continued to live like slaves for all practical purposes. Though their condition had improved over the Chattel-slavery days, they were yet to gain sincere recognition as equal citizens with whites. This reflected in the industrial era, where most positions of power and responsibility within a factory is out of reach for blacks. Let alone blacks, even the newer wave of white immigrants from Europe (Irish, Italian, etc) suffered a lot of discrimination. It is the WASPs who continued to hold sway over most major industries during late 19th century.
Brogan, Hugh (1985). The Penguin History of the United States of America. London, England: Penguin Books.
Egerton, Douglas (2014). The Wars of Reconstruction: The Brief, Violent History of America’s Most Progressive Era. Bloomsbury Press.
Kennedy, David M.; Cohen, Lizabeth (2012). The American Pageant: A History of the Republic (15th ed.). Boston: Houghton Mifflin.