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The Shaping of Today's America by Capitalism

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The United States of America, land of the free and home of the brave, one of the biggest powers in the world and the most influential. We live in a society, where success can be achieved if your willing to put in the hard work. We aspire to be successful, to be well off on finances, to be able to purchase whatever we would like and to be generally independent with ourselves. All these actions occur within a Capitalistic society. Capitalism is an economic system in which the means of production and distribution are privately owned and operated for profit. This means the people run the economy, the consumers purchase the product which then benefits both customer and seller. Capitalism is a system that helps and drives a society’s economy, but if we look further into it, there seems to be an instability within a society where some people will win and some will lose.

For the first half of the nineteenth century, Slavery was the core of the American economy. Although, the United States was not the only players in the slave trade enterprise; Europe, Africa, and the Caribbean were all individually intertwined with the US. Slaves were known as property, meaning they were viewed the same as a flat-screen TV. They could be bought, sold, traded, or inherited. From 1650 to 1860, the Slave Trade was one of the leading trade systems amongst the world. Approximately 10 to 15 billion enslaved people were transported from Western Africa to the Americas and Europe. This event was the largest forced migration in world history. It boosted economies with wealth at the expense of human life and liberty. The slave trade system transformed Europe, Africa, and The United States drastically. Quickly shaping and changing, everyone’s views the accumulation of wealth. As many would think, The south is the birthplace of slavery, but what if I told you it started within Saint Domingue or now Haiti. Slaves were shipped across from Africa to the French West Indies and worked on Sugar Plantations. They would work 16-18 hour days, cultivating, harvesting, hauling, grinding, clarification, filtration, and crystallization of all sugar exports. The sugar plantation era generated fortunes for the French merchants and was financed through the triangular trade. Although, the conditions in which these enslaved people were in living in were extremely poor. Many slaves upon arrival would only live on an average of 7-10 years. The enslaved population did not reproduce itself because of the agony they were going through. The conditions and complications set the stage for a revolution. In following, the revolution in Saint Domingue became the first and only successful slave revolution in the Americas in 1791. This ended up abolishing slavery and established the independent nation of Haiti. Due to the loss of Saint Domingue, the French (or Napoleon) was forced to sell the Louisiana territory to the US. We recognize this, as the Louisiana purchase of 1803. In the United States, the equivalent of 15 states was acquired from the purchase and began to change America’s westward expansion as well as the slave industry in the South. In the South, Cotton Cultivation started to grow while many white plantation owners would use Slaves to work in the fields producing cotton export for the farmers to sell for trade. Here we begin to see a type of Capitalistic Industry occur in the United States. Although this topic is very gruesome, we begin to see how there’s a means of production that privately owned and profited off. Though these white plantation farmers operated there businesses in an inhumane way. This capitalistic task has started a basis on Americas productions and profitings and the pursuit of happiness.

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During the big boom in cotton production and the increased profits, American transitions into the Industrial Revolution era. The industrial revolution was a slow process of economic change and technological innovation, where it starts to change the landscape and the social order. Factories were built in or near the cities, the urbanization of housing spiked spreading suburbia throughout the land. This began to create more efficient exploitation of labor. Housing was local to factories or companies so that the working man could get to work in an efficient manner. The industrial revolution played a central role in the rise of large corporations in the US. Many large corporations started to grow, especially the Steel Mills. Andrew Carnegie, the founder of Carnegie Co. was a businessman who owned the largest steel mills in the United States. Throughout the industrial revolution, his steel mills created jobs and his company grew, thus making him the 2nd richest man in the world. People began to change their values and ways, capitalism creates a new dominant class. The emergence of the Bourgeoisie and the proletariats occur in Europe, as so does in a sense in the United States. The bourgeoisie is the richer class while the proletariats are the lower class. Andrew Carnegie would be classified as a bourgeoisie while the workmen would be proletarians. The industrial revolution created more goods, more choices, and cheaper products. But how could this not be an incentive to a capitalistic society? If the factories and production are Government owned the incentives to create better technology and more choices and cheaper options are not there. It is only under a capitalist system that factory owners have the monetary incentive to keep moving forward with technology in the factories and to create more varieties of goods. In any other economic system, there is no competition, no choices for consumers, and no incentives to the factory owners to make a change.

Capitalism as a system has faults, as does every other economic system. Many will say the rich will get richer while the poor will become poorer. Though many can succeed within such a society just like today. People become Doctors, Teachers, CEO’s, and Business Owners anyone can succeed to the top. Yes, the shaping of Capitalism amongst The United States went through some dark turns especially through the Slavery era and were wrong. But if we look back onto history regardless of what happened, it’s what the US chose and adopted the Capitalism System. The United States has always been known ‘land of the free’ and in order to do that you must use the Capitalistic system, so the people are free to do what they choose. If it wasn’t for capitalism we wouldn’t have Nike, Apple, McDonald’s, or any common business we view today. The rise of the Capitalism economy in the United States is unlike any other entity before it, and still has shaped America to be the strongest and wealthiest nation by far.

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The Shaping of Today’s America by Capitalism. (2022, September 01). Edubirdie. Retrieved September 25, 2023, from
“The Shaping of Today’s America by Capitalism.” Edubirdie, 01 Sept. 2022,
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