The Relationship Between The Railway and The American Industrial Revolution

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This source provides a historical perspective of the development of the railroad as well as how the builders of the railway tried to force the development of new town alongside the railway line. The author highlights a scenario where technological advancement necessitated the expansion of markets.

The source takes me back to the time of the industrial revolution. Manufacturers at this point had discovered the capability to optimize production sustainably. However, the challenge these manufacturers faced was the arability of a sustainable demand away from the local demand and hence the development of the towns alongside the railroad.

This source helps me to reinforce my argument that the convergence of the industrial revolution and the development of the railway network in the United States both fed off each other. The success of the American industrial revolution would not amount to much if not for the existence of a constant market for the supply of the goods.

Source 2: The Railway Journey: The Industrialization Of Time And Space In The Nineteenth Century.

Source: Schivelbusch, Wolfgang. The Railway Journey: The Industrialization of Time and Space in the Nineteenth Century. Univ of California Press, 2014.

This source provides a logical explanation of the ideation behind the development of a robust railroad system by the political and business leaders during the industrial revolution. According to the authors, the railroad would annihilate the "time and space" that existed between different geographical regions. Therefore, the railroad reduced the speed in which products would reach the market, and it would significantly virtually close down the distance between the market and the source of goods.

The source provides a logical analogy of how business efficiency increases due to better transportation systems. Essentially, the success of the industrial revolution was out of the increased efficiency in doing business that ensured a steady flow of goods from their manufacturing sites to the market. Consequently, the improvements in transportation ensured that raw materials reached the factories in a sustainable and efficient manner.

Essentially, this source consolidates my case for the acknowledgment of logistics through trains and the railway as well as its importance in the success of the supply chain of the American industrial revolution.


The analysis of the two sources provides a case for two different perspectives of the relationship between the railroads and the American industrial revolution. In Hudson’s article, the author highlights how the railroad was secondary to the industrial revolution. The author, using a narrative approach, describing how manufacturing had already developed way ahead of its time. The missing link was a subsequent market to provide optimal conditions for the industrial revolution. Therefore, the manufacturing leaders set forth to find new markets for their products and hence new markets formed along the railroad.

Schivelbusch, on the other hand, describes the case for the railway as the major component for advancing the industrial revolution. Based on Schivelbusch's argument, the market for the products traded during the industrial revolution existed even before. However, inefficiency in logistics meant that the time to satisfy the demand remained longer because of the geographical separation of the markets and the sources of manufacturing.

Combining the two arguments and descriptions from Schivelbusch and Hudson provides the basis for my arguments about the relationship between the American industrial revolution and the railway. Inefficiency in logistics hampered the acceleration of industrialization in the American economy. Despite the market having enough purchasing power, the satisfaction of demand failed due to the lack of adequate, reliable, and fast means of transport. Therefore, the advent of the railway not only ensured that there was interconnectivity of markets but also that the satisfaction of the demand justified a ramp-up in production. However, the presence of the railroad increased not only the demand for goods but also their supply and that of raw materials in an industrializing American economy.

Works Cited

Hudson, John C. "Towns of the Western Railroads." Great Plains Quarterly 2.1 (1982): 41-54.

Schivelbusch, Wolfgang. The Railway Journey: The Industrialization of Time and Space in the Nineteenth Century. Univ of California Press, 2014.

November 13, 2023


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Industrial Revolution

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