Technology and Transportation: 1790-1870
Industrial Revolution Timeline
This chronology of the Industrial Revolution (roughly 1790 - 1890) focuses on the key innovations in transportation, power and technology that changed the way people worked, increased their capacity for production, and expanded the markets for their products. It also highlights some of the consequences of the Industrial Revolution such as the rise of big business, the development of the labor movement, and the expansion of government.
1789 Samuel Slater brings textile machinery, operated by water power, to New England.
1790 Congress passes the first patent law.
1807 Robert Fulton operates the first commercially successful steamboat between New York City and Albany.
1814 Francis Cabot Lowell and the Boston Associates establish a large-scale textile factory system in Waltham, Massachusetts.
1824 Rifles with fully interchangeable parts are manufactured at Harpers Ferry armory.
1825 The Erie Canal opens allowing goods to be shipped from New York City to Cleveland and eventually to Chicago.
1837 John Deere introduces the first steel plow to the United States. Successive new technologies make each acre more productive but smaller farms less competitive.
1850s Leading railroads emerge as the nation's first big businesses with modern managerial hierarchies.
1869 The first transcontinental railroad is completed linking the United States into a huge single market.
1870 John D. Rockefeller and partners establish Standard Oil Company of Ohio, establishing a vertically integrated company and later a trust which limited competition and controlled the industry.
1877 The great railroad strike shuts down rail traffic in fourteen states.
1886 American Federation of Labor is established.
1886 The U.S. Supreme Court decides Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad, awarding civil rights to corporations, making it more difficult for state legislatures to regulate them.
1886 The Haymarket riot occurs.
1887 Congress passes the Interstate Commerce Act and assumes responsibility for managing a sector of the economy.