We have come a long way in terms of the progress we have made from the stone age where people used handmade tools for labor to today where we all almost replacing everything with machines. The advancement is what is called progress and we have advanced in almost all spheres of life, while this progress can be accredited to the development we see today it also has some impacts and just like all developments it has critics too. According to Porsdam Mann et al. all humans, have the right to enjoy scientific progress, this right stems from Article 27 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights that was adopted in World War 2 wake. The right is significant not only to the researchers but the society itself since it allows both access to material, data and knowledge, policy, funding, and scientific freedom. They are different types of progress that can be identified concerning science, they are economical which is the increase of scientific funding research and education which is increased expertise and skills for the scientist. Also, professional which is the rising status of society’s academic institutions and scientist and methodical which is the invention of new research methods. Science progress too has a connection with social progress which is quality of life and economic prosperity and technological progress which is increased efficiency of techniques and tools (“Scientific Progress (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)”). The paper below will focus on the scientific progress in the I9th century, its impact on American society and how this progress has been applied in our daily lives while focusing on the views of various groups including critics in light of this progress.
To begin with, science played a role in the American society in the 19th century where institutions were created that enabled science to be used alongside technology, this was initiated by Rogers and it led to the creation of Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1861. While this adoption of science and technology had some benefits is also increased the technological change pace and social dislocation. Concerning the engineers during this period, they adopted a self-image that prevented them from helping the society solve the problems they had created because they considered themselves as logical thinkers with no emotion and bias (Layton). In addition, John Dalton published the atomic theory and studied color blindness while Friedrich Wohler isolated aluminum and produced organic compound urea from inorganic chemicals. Electricity was continually mastered during this period by Dane Hans while the dynamo was invented by Michael Faraday, geology took strides when Charles Lyell contributed to the process of rock formation. Regarding surgery and medicine after a cholera outbreak, the doctors were able to ascertain that it was spread by water. The most contribution of science during this period was Charles Darwin with the survival of the fittest where he claimed that all animals are always competing for survival and that members of a particular species vary. Darwin’s contribution was then published in “The Origin of Species” in 1859 (Lambert).
During the 19th century while most historians saw the changes that were happening in society as progress others termed them as deterrents and harmful to society. Religion in this era was growing too with most people joining churches, but Karl Marx concluded that people joined religion to compensate for some deficiencies. Most Americans saw these changes as a good thing and compared that most of them occurred after the civil war they viewed them as an awakening period for them and a new era, they embraced it with vigor. However, while the evidence of progress was prevalent in the various spheres of the American people, the meaning of it, how it worked and who benefited was different across people. The people from the upper class and middle class termed the progress as something was only deserved by the citizens hence they employed measures to ensure he migrants never enjoyed. In the right of who was supposed to benefit, this was not clear since most people thought that this progress was to benefit the highly privileged in the society, this created the massive differentiation of classes witnessed today. According to the various scholar they all had different meanings for progress while someone termed the definition a scientific explanation of various phenomena other referred to it as a myth.
The scientific progress in the 19th century was viewed differently by people, among the various historian who studied the change and sought to understand its meaning some termed this change as harmful. Scholars like Marx termed religion as the opium of the people yet it was one of the continued development that was brought up by some of the changes. While the changes in the society were evident the businessmen’s reaction had various notions, in the Munn v. Illinois case, the Supreme Court upheld the previous decision that the government had the power over private industries which affected the public interest. From this case, it is clear that the businessmen regarded the science progress as troublesome and with no good intention s by the legislation imposed by the government. The Sherman Anti-trust act came about in 1890 after Senator John Sherman who was an outspoken critic received letters from the small businesses requesting the introduction of antitrust laws with the owners of the small refiners being the most active group. They were various reasons that lead to the business interest in having these laws among them the standard oil companies used tank cars to transport their oil, this reduced the cost of oil transporting and others wanted the abolishment of vertical restraints. Unfortunately, by employing the legislation there was hardly any witnessed change that indicates the society moving forward since he suppressed the tank oil which reduced the cost of transporting and he sanctioned for higher tariffs which further accelerated monopolistic dominance. While it is evident that the act did not achieve the intended goals it paved way for other laws example, Clayton Act. However, while the regulatory government was supposed to enhance progress it ended up doing vice-versa where to ensure that companies and businesses remained competitive it satisfied their monopoly by imposing high tariffs on other businesses (Troesken).
Moreover, there were many ways by which businesses in America utilized technology and science. Through the changes, more than 20,000 patents were issued to businesses and companies this was a result of the increased innovations by the people. For the farms and the cattle ranches, barbed wire was invented, the sleeping car and a railroad air brake was also developed which saw the railroad industry efficiency improve. In addition, Thomas A. Edison who made some improvements in the telegraph and patented an electric voting machine brought up a team of experts and created the first industrial research laboratory in New Jersey, from his laboratory the central power station, phonograph, and light bulb was first developed. Also, Edison in 1882 produced for his 85 client’s electricity which despite having a limited transmission range the power plant number rose and in 1886 he was able to supply at long distance. The most important utilization of technology in this period must be the telephone by Alexander Graham Bell, it became an important feature that was found in homes and offices and by the year 1900, almost 800,000 phones were in service in the United States (“Technology and Business”).
Jacob Riis documented the New York slums where he told about the lives of the other half by taking pictures of the conditions to shed right on them, he had arrived as an immigrant in 1870 just at 21 years. By the use of his flash photograph, he was able to take pictures of both the outdoor and indoor during night time where he showed the overpopulated households and the unsanitary conditions the immigrants lived. The findings were then published in a book of “How the other half Lives”, he believed that while science was bringing about changes new and complex problems that required addressing were also emerging. According to him, the perpetrators for change were urban and industrial everyone since this problem and conditions were escalating because the immigrants could not find employment because of the discrimination prevalent in the hospital and the industrialist should develop better housing that catered the needs for the immigrants. The progress according to Jacob was in the hands of the middle class and upper-class people since his photographs are meant to show the two classes of people on the harmful conditions the immigrants are dwelling on so that they can do something. After the civil war the population increased which lead to the need for more food, the farmers grew more leading to a high supply, when the supply was high than the demand the prices of the produce reduced. As the farmers made less it spiraled to the laborers in their farms, to address the low prices despite the high supply the farmers formed a party. The populist party by the farmers was head by William Jennings Bryan and was meant to address various issues among them, to pass an income tax, the tenure of Federal judges to be ended, the old standard elimination and paper currency printing by national private banks. While the party may not have been able to achieve all their goals, they received recognition as a political force group. Luckily, income tax was passed, the gold standard was eliminated in 1933 and the printing of the paper currency shifted to federal reserve in 1911(Jackson).
After the massive changes that were witnessed from the changes in the 19th century that affected the social, economic and political aspects, the progressive era came into action. They were various goals that were set during this period, social welfare protection was to curb the harsh conditions that had emerged as a result of industrialization. Secondly, moral development promotion, especially for the city dwellers and the immigrants, alcohol prohibition, was viewed as a solution for the menace. Also, the creation of economic reforms was propagated by the reformers who advocated for socialism, it led to the American Socialist Party creation in 1901 (Power). Lastly, efficiency fostering that required the leaders to trust the skilled experts in making the workplace and society efficient. Most progressive people align with Ward and not with Sumner since according to him the reforms only laced more burden on the middle class which according to him was not okay. Also, Spenser believed that natural laws are established by evolutionary science which was refuted by Ward too. Moreover, while Christianity’s influence had increased rapidly through the century with various denominations like Jehovah witness, Mormons being established, various scholars like Darwin, Freud and Marx not only attacked the Christians way of life but also on the validity of the scriptures.
Lastly, just like any other phenomena in the society the 19th century had its share of critics, the art changed in this century where an artist could develop their pieces rather than working for the state. Critics were mostly in magazines on the preference of arts and the principles governing the drawings. While also this period brought many changes, society’s way of life was criticized by historians and scholars who could not understand the process and the changes the society was experiencing. Evidently, as claimed by historians the 19th century was the period that saw many changes in all aspects of society. The Science change then is still evident today especially when we look at the various measures that are being put into place to combat climate change which seem to be worsening every day. While everyone recognizes the good things that science change has brought like the X-rays which are used to take scans of existing conditions it is paramount that the cons of this change are recognized, for example, industrialization which is the main cause of global warming. Finally, when one looks at the 21st century in comparison with the 19th century a lot of changes are evident which bears the question of the science change to be witnessed in the future.
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