When the Civil War began , the country 's industrial output , while important and increasing did not approach that of major European powers By the end of the century the United States had become far and away the colossus among world manufacturers , dwarfing the production of Great Britain and Germany . The world had never seen such a remarkable example of rapid economic growth . Modern economists estimate that the output of goods and services in the country increased by 44 percent between 1874 and 1883 and continued to expand in succeeding years . An economy based
br on grain and lumber became a mainly urban centered industrial economy
American manufacturing flourished for many reasons . New natural resources were discovered and exploited steadily , thereby increasing opportunities . These opportunities , in turn , attracted the brightest and most energetic of a vigorous and expanding population . The growth of the country added constantly to the si9ze of the national market , and protective tariffs shielded that market from foreign competition Foreign capital entered the market freely in part because tariffs kept out so many foreign goods . The dominant spirit of the time encouraged businessmen to maximum effort by emphasizing progress , yet it also produced a generation of Robber Barons . The energetic search for wealth let to corrupt business practices such as stock manipulation , bribery and cutthroat competition and ultimately to combinations in restraint of trade , a kind of American euphemism for monopoly . European immigrants provided the additional labor needed by expanding industry . These immigrants saw America as a land of opportunity and for many it was that indeed . For other immigrating to the United States it meant a constant struggle for survival , dreary and often unhealthy living conditions with grinding poverty (Brinkley , 1991 ,
It was a period of rapid advance in basic science , and technicians created a bountiful harvest of new machines , processes , and power sources that increased productivity in many industries and created new industries as well . In agriculture there were better harvesters and binding machines and combines capable of threshing and bagging 450 pounds of grain a minute . Of course this also meant that many farm families were displaced from their homes and livelihoods , and it made farmers dependent on the markets and powerful economic forces they could not control . The commercial canning of food , spurred by the automatic line canning factory , expanded so rapidly that housekeeping was thought to be as ready made as clothing (Brinkley , 1991 ,
Railroads were important first as an industry in themselves . Fewer than 35 ,000 miles of track existed when Lee laid down his sword at Appomattox . In 1875 railroad mileage exceeded 74 ,000 and the skeleton of the network was complete . Over the next two decades the skeleton was fleshed out . In 1890 the mature but still growing system took in over one billion in passengers and freight revenues . The emphasis in railroad construction after 1865 was on organizing integrated systems The lines had high fixed costs : taxes , interest on their bonds maintenance of track and rolling...