Thursday, January 28, 2010

What role did railroads play in changing southern society?

During the period of industrialization after the Civil War, railroads represented one of the main corporations and played a significant role in changing Southern society. Agriculture had always been the core of the South, with much economic wealth coming from its exports. This remained true despite the rapid urban growth. The railroads aided the export of agricultural goods, allowing a more direct and efficient means of transport than by sea. However, this shifted much power and wealth away from previously important port cities, including Charleston and Mobile. Instead, cities like Atlanta experienced rapid growth, as it was a central railroad hub where several major systems came together. Railroads also impacted urbanization in the Southern cities like Atlanta because they attracted big businesses. This opened up new work opportunities and brought more money into the city, which in turn brought more people. Railroads also allowed travelling to be a lot faster and easier. This led to more people moving from other parts of America, bringing with them their previous cultures and traditions. Imports were also aided by the railroad, which allowed goods built in other areas of the nation to become a more common sight.
Railroads played a very important role in the industrialization and urbanization of the South and ultimately contributed to the formation of a shared national identity.

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