Introduction

It seems that with every new reality show, we hear of some new technological breakthrough that will change the way we live. Although the pace of technological change has accelerated with each decade, new inventions have transformed the American political landscape throughout our nation's history.

In this timeline you'll have the opportunity to witness how technology influences change and continuity in the American political system. As you proceed, you should consider the various technological factors that produce political change or maintain established political traditions.

Our historical journey through the American political system proceeds from the ground up, examining some powerful features of America's political landscape that support these many levels of American politics. One critical component of this foundation is the American economy. This timeline explores the social and political consequences of the expansion of American economic power over the past two centuries.

One of the main engines driving American economic growth has been technological innovation, invention and entrepreneurship. Consequently, we can gain a better understanding of the relationship between economic, and political change by looking at some of the most significant technological developments in American history.

As you proceed, keep the following questions in mind:

  • How did technological advances in transportation or communication transform the American economy and political landscape?
  • Which groups of Americans benefited most or least from these economic and technological changes?
  • What roles did the national and state governments play in promoting technological advances or in regulating their effects?