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America's History in the Making

Resource Archive: Search Results

Bessemer Steel Manufacture

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Alfred R. Waud, BESSEMER STEEL MANUFACTURE (1876). Courtesy of the Library of Congress.

Creator Alfred R. Waud
Context Technological innovations transformed the production process during industrialization.
Audience Readers of Harper's Weekly
Purpose To show how the Bessemer process increased production

Historical Significance

Before the Civil War, skilled workers used a slow and costly process to produce iron, which tended to be soft and malleable. The development of Henry Bessemer's converter aided the search for a more durable metal. The Bessemer process transformed iron into steel by injecting air into it, thereby reducing the amount of carbon. The process is credited with launching the steel industry and cheapening the cost of production because it was no longer necessary to employ highly paid skilled workers.

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