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8. Industrial Expansion in America

So you combine the increased demand for certain industrial products with dramatically increased railroad activity, because at this time the way you get raw materials from one place to another, finished products from one place to another, it's all, it's almost all railroads. And this kind of activity on railroads requires a tremendous amount of labor. Track work has to be done in the spring, in addition to maintenance you need people to run the trains so it's a very, actually a much more labor intensive operation-railroads-than you think about.

And unfortunately, at least from the perspective of the industrialists and the railroad owners, who are looking at the possibility of huge profits, and we later know, we know from later investigations that World War I created massive profits for American industry. At that time though, it wasn't clear who would do the repair work on the railroad tracks, who would make the steel, who would slaughter the meat.

During the preceding periods of industrial expansion, industrialists had turned mainly to European immigration; the people who wrote the letters, the other set of letters that you saw, as well as white migrants from the countryside. In fact, from a period of about late 1880s-early 1890s until 1914 is the period of greatest immigration to the United States until the end of the 1990s. This is the period we think of as when certain immigrant groups came to the United States, Eastern Europeans, Southern Europeans, in massive numbers.

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