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TheAmerican Economic Journey (EconomicProgress, Chapter 17, page, 466)

TheAmerican Journey is a comprehensive overview of the American historyfrom the 16thto the 19thcentury. The book seeks to showcase the integration of social,economic, and political history by use of well-organized facts. Thedefined American ideals have steered the nation’s development tothe reality that it is today. The journey is still progressive andthe foundations laid in the previous eras have a great influence inthe running of today’s affairs. Inclusion and active participationof all stakeholders is a major contribution to the rise of America asthe greatest nation in the world.

TheAmerican Economic Journey

Thebeginning of economic activity can be dated back to the 16thcentury and was heavily dependent on agriculture in the budding eraof industrialization and urbanization. Slavery was at the core of alleconomic activities as a cheap way of acquiring labor. The LowerSouth main economic activity was in cotton plantations while theUpper South was more diversified in terms of agriculture and tradedslaves. The proslavery argument in the 1830s, in a bid to stopslavery was countered by resistance from the whites who used biblicalarguments in their support and hence the South were regarded an idealsociety (Goldfield et al, 470).

Manyof the infrastructural developments occurred in the 1800s with thetransport and manufacturing revolution, which acceleratedurbanization and created employment for Native Americans as well asthe immigrants and women. Reforms were also dominant in this periodadvocating for the end of slavery. Population rise in the 1850s putspressure on land, causing migration, especially from east to west:the westward movement. The Mexican war was influenced by theresistance to the American Manifest Destiny to possess the continent.By expanding their territories, the United States had a betterplatform to sprout economically.

Followingreconstruction and freedom from slavery in 1865 the white southernersstill retained most resources hence had economic control. Thisexplains the reason why the South remained behind the North in termsof industrialization despite efforts to establish textile and steelindustries. Women and African Americans struggled for an even groundto participate in economic activities, but oppression was stillrampant then. New economic activities continued to spread across theUnited States, including mining and cattle keeping while some werestill practicing agriculture (Goldfield et al, 482).

Politicaland government reforms led to the transformation of America intoimperialism. America intervened in the Spanish-American Warstrategically for economic and political gain starring rivalry in theonset of World War 1. In the 1920s, Mechanization of production,automobiles, and oligopoly markets dominated the economy. Thegovernment was a tool for gaining economic momentum by formulatingpolicies, though had scarred foreign relations due to the previouswar. The Great Depression occurred in 1929 and saw the economy crashwith the closure of factories and unemployment. Franklin D. Rooseveltlaunched a strategy to solve the economic crisis, the New Deal, whichenhanced recovery to some extent.

WorldWar 2 had consequences for the American economy and to counter thisPresident Nixon changed foreign policy by establishing ties with theSoviet Union and Cambodia especially when economic expansion collidedwith environmental conservation. Following the Reagan Revolution, USAhad established itself as a powerhouse with a potential economicboom. The economy continued to grow, especially due to major scienceand technological innovations, which continued to steer industries.Today America still rules the world’s economy attributed topolicies formulated in the previous eras especially promotinginternational trade.


Goldfield David, Carl Abbot, Virginia Anderson, Jo Ann Argersinger, Peter Argersinger,

William Barney, Robert Weir. The American Journey. Fourth Edition. Prentice Hall, 2004.