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The Rise of Smokestack America

Fed by technological innovations; extensive railroad and telegraph networks; native-born, black, and immigrant labor; and domestic as well as European capital, industry came to lead American economic growth in the latter half of the nineteenth century. Industrial growth fostered the rise of modern cities and the class, race, ethnic, and economic divisions that they are home to. But while industrialization clearly benefited the wealthy and middle class, its effects were mixed for workers, who were transformed by mechanization from artisans into wage earners, or, as many of them saw it, "wage slaves." This change engendered conflicts between capital and labor, manifested in labor organizing, job actions, and strikes.

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