Comparing 19th Century North America and Europe

In the 19th century, both North America and Europe underwent a lot of changes. To begin with, economically America experienced the Industrial Revolution. Americans were less in their homes and on the farms and moved to the cities where the men worked in offices and factories. Steel manufacturing became the dominant industry with an abundance of iron ore deposits and rich coal. There was easy access to cheap water transportation routes which aided in speeding the nation’s economy (“Iron and Steel Industry”). Men became the breadwinners and women were more domesticated and did not earn wages.

Men enjoyed a great age of organization with fraternal groups about literacy and scientific societies, labor reform, Bible studies and sports groups. They went to taverns and barrooms to make political deals, secure jobs and for entertainment. The higher social status women planned social dinners. Those families who remained on the farms included everyone working and there were no schools (Family Life”). In Europe, they too experienced the rise of industrialization, but along with it came liberal capitalism which completely upset the balance of power in the European society (“Religious Practice”).

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Similarly, the old way of life with people living in the countryside had them moving to the cities with the improvements in transport and communications technology. Commerce was no longer a dominant hierarchical model. Later on in the century, Napoleon III came into rule with the rise in Nationalism. He stated that the government should not intervene to promote growth and public welfare (“Religious Practice”). Yet in America, the Declaration of Independence was written with the political ideal of “Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness (The Civil War”). In America during this time the Civil war broke out with brothers fighting against brothers and friends fighting against friends. Abraham Lincoln, President, was quoted as saying, “A house divided cannot stand”(The Civil War). In 1865 slavery was abolished. There continued to be white-black tension and immigration from Europe conflicting with the Native Americans. The war was a nationwide catastrophe and had a profound effect on all Americans. In contrast, the upset in Europe was how the rise of industrialism crushed the balance of power in the European society.

This had a serious impact on the Catholic Church. The Church failed to adapt to the new problems put forward by industrialization. Religion became more of an ideological issue and Europe’s people stopped attending church. Capitalist, socialists and anarchists were born who undermined the church (“Religious Practice”). In America, there was a new enduring power of evangelical Protestants who ran the biggest, wealthiest and most influential organized religion. Next, there was competition from rival groups who refused to bow to the majority.

The third trend was to churn among the denominations and political and religious passion began (Wacker). Women in 19th century America began a movement demanding more equal rights, including the right to vote. This movement gained strength and married women founded reform groups, debating societies and literary associations. They fought for school reform, health issues, women’s rights, child labor laws and public policy issues. Some women had full political rights. Some attended high schools and colleges and a few states granted divorces on the grounds of physical abuse with custody of the children (“Family Life”).

In Europe during this century, Feminism was born. Men and women wanted to guarantee the rights for women. Predominantly middle class women began campaigning for access to higher education and to work, for property rights, for the reform of a man’s sexual conduct and to vote. Although they did not gain the right to vote or hold office, they made their presence known. A woman became a symbol of “liberty” because the Europeans were afraid that one man might take power and establish a dictatorship (“Women and the Revolution”).

In North America, family life became the dominant focus and there were affectionate, loving marriages. Parents had sentimental relationships with their children with added leisure time as physical comfort increased. There was more happiness because they were not just trying to survive day by day. The husbands still ruled and the wives obeyed, but out of love and no longer out of force. There was now courtship amongst couples and a new model for raising families (“Family Life”). Entertainment centered in the home for the middle and lower classes.

The upper class enjoyed the opera, theater and the symphony. In contrast, Europe’s family structure had a lot of stressors on them. The women stayed home with the children, often left alone and isolated, while a double-standard began with the men having affairs. Women became frustrated with being confined to the home and the children often were overwhelmed with the high expectations put on them (The Family and Class Structure”). Entertainment within the higher class consisted of going to the theaters and ompanies, the introduction of Burlesque theaters for men and the Vaudeville for the entire family.

Works Cited

Entertainment and Immigration. (12 Feb 2011) Retrieved from: http://immigration-online. org/98-entertainment-and-immigration. html Family Life, 19th Century Families. (n. d. ) Retrieved from: http://countriesquest. com/north_america/usa/people/family_life/19th-century_families. htm Iron and Steel Industry. (n. d. ) Retrieved from: http://www. history. com/topics/iron-and-steel-industry Religious Practice and Change in 19th Century Catholic Europe. 4 Feb 2005). Retrieved from: http://onepearsallandhisbooks. blogspot. com/2005/02/religious-practice-and-change-in-19th. html The Civil War. (n. d. ) Retrieved from: http://www. shmoop. com/civil-war/ The Family and Class Structure in mid-19th Century Europe. (n. d. ) Retrieved from: http://www2. sunysuffolk. edu/westn/familyclass. html Wacker, Grant. (2000). Religion in Nineteenth Century America. Retrieved from: http://www. rsiss. net/religinamerica/19centuryamerica. html Women and the Revolution. (n. d. ) Retrieved from: http://chnm. gmu. edu/revolution/chap5d. html

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