Science and technology have played an important role in the
United States. They have been especially influential in the American economy,
where new inventions have often fueled the flames of industry. Follow the
directions below to increase your understanding of the influence of science and
technology on American history.
Read the list below of events in science and technology.
Organize and create a timeline of the events with an illustration and
appropriate one-sentence summary of each event’s influence on history.
Interpret your timeline to write an answer that explains how technological
advances led to rapid industrialization in the United States.
Compare the effects of scientific discoveries and technological innovations
that have influenced daily life in different periods of U.S. history.
Describe how scientific ideas influenced technological developments during
periods of U.S. history.
Identify examples of how industrialization changed life in the United States.
Industrial revolution begins in England. People in factories make things with
machines rather than by hand. This increases production and standardizes
Samuel Slater returns from England with plans for a textile factory. He builds
the factory in Pawtucket, Rhode Island, and is known as the father of the
Eli Whitney invents a machine, called the cotton gin, to separate seeds from
cotton fiber. His invention revolutionizes the textile (cloth) industry by
making it much easier to make cotton products.
Eli Whitney manufactures identical gun parts so that the parts could be
exchanged with parts in other guns. Thus, the parts were “interchangeable.”
This idea was applied to the manufacture of other products and eventually led
to the assembly line.
Robert Fulton builds a steamboat that paddles up the Hudson River and travels
150 miles in 32 hours. Steamboats gradually replace horse-drawn or
human-powered boats on America’s inland waterways.
Construction of the Cumberland road begins in Maryland. By 1852, this
hard-surface road is used to transport goods from Maryland to Illinois.
The Erie Canal is completed. It stretches for 363 miles across New York and
makes the transportation of goods from the Great Lakes and the nation’s Midwest
regions to Eastern and European markets much faster and more efficient.
The Stourbridge Lion, a locomotive, makes the first successful train trip in
the United States.
Cyrus McCormick invents the mechanical reaper. A horse drawn contraption, it
makes harvesting wheat, hay, and similar crops much easier.
John Deere invents the steel plow. It replaces wooded-bladed plows and makes
farmers more productive.
Samuel Morse invents the telegraph that allows people to communicate by wire
over long distances.
Elias Howe invents the sewing machine that revolutionizes the way clothing is
Clipper ships—invented in the United States—transport goods across the ocean at
a rapid rate of speed. With enough wind, the clipper ships could outrun
steamships of the time.
Cyrus Field lays telegraph cable across the Atlantic and connects the United
States with Europe.
First transcontinental telegraph is completed.
First transcontinental railroad is completed.