The march of capital transformed patterns of American labor. While a select few enjoyed historically unparalleled levels of wealth, and an ever-growing slice of middle-class workers possessed an ever more comfortable standard of living, vast numbers of farmers lost their land while a growing working class struggled to earn wages sufficient to support families and justify their labor. Industrial capitalism brought wealth and it brought poverty, it created owners and investors and it created employees. Whether winners or losers in the new American economy, Americans of all stripes had to reckon with the new ways of life unleashed by industrialization.
This chapter was edited by Joseph Locke, with content contributions by Andrew C. Baker, Nicholas Blood, Justin Clark, Dan Du, Caroline Bunnell Harris, David Hochfelder Scott Libson, Joseph Locke, Leah Richier, Matthew Simmons, Kate Sohasky, Joseph Super, and Kaylynn Washnock.