During the mid-nineteenth century, the Industrial Revolution hit the United States with force. Railroads were distributing goods throughout the United States; tractors were helping farmers develop more of their land; and machines were increasing production levels within factories. The tasks of work became more mechanized, teaching workers new ways of producing the same material.

This burgeoning technology offered a promise of power and wealth to those who could create and harness it. More and more inventions were being registered. The new machines reduced time and strain on the individual, allowing for more productivity within the factory. Thomas Edison's multi-plex telegraph wire allowed increased traffic through the system. Alexander Bell's telephone opened the lines of communication to the individual. Christopher Schole's typewriter created messages with the touch of a finger. This dramatic increase in technology impacted every part of life.

Railroads streamed through the countrysides, upsetting the aesthetic ideas of beauty. Where peaceful rivers once flowed through the gentle countryside, now loud railroads screamed past quaint towns. To combat this ugly presentation of the new wonderchild of capitalism, companies hired artists to help them create beauty out of this machinery becoming more prevalent in society. Once the aesthetic of the machine was in place, the rest of the nation could be mechanized.

For the farmer, the new reapers, combines, and other implements were drastically reducing both planting and harvesting time. The farmer could then work the land more effectively. More fields could be cultivated, and fewer hands were needed, thus supplying the farmer with more money than in previous years. Household appliances -- refridgerators, stoves, and ovens -- and packaged foods reduced cooking times for the farmer's wife. Farmers now had extra money to spend and a leisure time to enjoy it.
In the new factories, a revolutionary system of labor was developing. Where previously skilled laborers created the wares on a contractual basis, the new machinery allowed unskilled laborers to produce the same product for an hourly wage. Small business owners and skilled workers slowly worked their way up to the management level of these new factories. Wage laborers became separated from those in management, forming new social classes. The upper class owned the businesses, the new middle class ran the businesses, and the lower class worked in the businesses.

With this developing social stratification, definitions of culture started changing as well. As always, the upper class looked towards Europe to define the culture. The rising middle class desired to emulate those above them. The lower wage laborers desired to resemble those managing them. This constant pressure to look up was reflected in the advertisements.