Industrialization in America by Paul Johnson
Paul Johnson in his book, Sam Patch, the Famous Jumper, tells the narrative of John Patch who rose to fame in the late 1820’s for jumping waterfalls. According to the story given by Johnson, the life of Patch serves the purpose of being our porthole onto the life of the American working class early in the 19th century (Johnson 48). By far, the most controversial issue in the 19th century was the question of freedom and equality based on which groups were supposed to be allowed freedom and equality. The industrial revolution brought forth the existence of fluctuating levels of freedom and very dissimilar levels for each group. Equality diminished with time, and a polarized class structure was adopted. Sam Patch resolved to jump over waterfalls since he lived near them as his family was among the first workers in the power plants that depended on water. Johnson tells a story of dispossessed patriarchy where Sam’s father, initially a shoemaker loses his business at the wake of industrialization. This was a section of the broader narrative about the rise of wage labor which particularly served to weaken the power and control of fathers.Patch later became a skilled laborer like the fellow young working males (Johnson 102). He also developed the love for rough play including jumping into waterfalls. He became a hero in the American culture. The story of Sam Patch helps us to gain insights about the underlying relationships between the social structures which in turn help us to discern the inherent relationship between industrialization and the institutions of freedom and equality during the period of Early Republic. The link between the industries and laborers would possibly be described as that of master workmen, apprentices and semi-subsistence cultivators (Rahman 12). In the modern world, this could be closely tied to capitalists versus workers (Reinschmiedt and Jones).
The varying levels of freedom and equality in America could perfectly be illustrated by the removal of the indigenous Americans in the south, the advancement of the rights and collective oppression of the blacks (Hoppit 212). Industrialization also facilitated the creation of the class system with a far-reaching difference between the rich capitalists and the meager wage workers. This enlightens the loss of equality that as a basis of for the progressive movement.
Owing to the class struggles, it would be impossible for the industries to establish a substantial bond with the institutions of freedom and equality (Reinschmiedt and Jones 68). Quite often, industries work at their best to minimize costs and maximize profits. This was the trend during the industrial revolution, and thus the factories paid low wages to their laborers. The institutions of equality and freedom were obviously opposed to this and could hardly condone it.Industrialization in America can be attributed to various changes including the mannerisms of living and the ways the individuals and societies interacted. It changed the quality of life, economy and political consequences (Sadorsky 402). The country portrayed a departure from the chiefly agrarian society to a mechanical culture. The majority of the sustainable jobs were situated in the cities. The working class moved to the cities and established their homes in the cities. They worked under the unfavorable conditions characterized by pollution and low wages (Vries 252). However, they hardly protested because more desperate laborers would replace them in such an incidence.