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Thomas Alva Edison
Thomas Alva Edison was born on February 11, 1847, in Milan, Ohio. He died on October 18, 1931, in West Orange, New Jersey.

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Changes in Transportation
During Alva's life, there were major changes in transportation. For centuries, cities had been located along rivers because people were dependent on the river for transportation. The rivers carried boats which transported people and goods from city to city.

In the 1800's, railroads became a new means of transportation. Railroad tracks were laid across the United States connecting cities by land, rather than by water. This was a faster and more convenient way to travel. Railroads soon replaced boats which decreased the amount of business on the rivers.

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Transcontinental Railroad
On May 10, 1869, the first U.S. transcontinental railroad was completed. This is a historic day for the United States. On this day at Promontory Point, Utah, the East Coast and the West Coast were connected for the first time by the railroad. Did you know it was also the first time the United States was linked by a single mode of transportation?

Two railroad companies -- the Union Pacific from the east and the Central (Southern) Pacific from the west -- laid their tracks until they met at Promontory Point, Utah.

The Union Pacific started laying new tracks in Omaha, Nebraska. Although the Union Pacific had more miles to cover, it was easier to lay the tracks across the flat plains.

The Central (Southern) Pacific began laying tracks in Sacramento, California. The Central (Southern) Pacific's tracks ran through the tall Sierra Nevada mountains. It was a difficult task to build the bridges across ravines and canyons and blast tunnels through the mountains.

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The American Civil War
In 1861, the United States entered a civil war. The nation was divided over the issue of slavery.

The American Civil War ended on April 9, 1865, when Confederate General Robert E. Lee surrendered to Union General Ulysses S. Grant in Appomattox Court House, Virginia.

The war lasted four years. Over 600,000 Americans were killed during this struggle.

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Inventors, Scientists, and Industrialists
The 1800's produced great inventors, scientists, and industrialists. They include Alva, Michael Faraday, Samuel Morse, Alexander Graham Bell, George Eastman, Henry Ford, and Guglielmo Marconi.

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Michael Faraday (1791-1867)
Michael Faraday was an English physicist and chemist. He is called the Father of Electricity.

Faraday laid the foundation for the age of electricity when he discovered electromagnetic induction and made the first dynamo. The unit of capacitance is called a farad, after Faraday.

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Samuel Morse (1791-1872)
Samuel Morse was a U.S. inventor. He invented the telegraph around 1832. The telegraph sends a message through a wire using bursts of electricity.

Telegraph operators use a series of dots and dashes to represent letters and numbers. This system of communication was invented by Samuel Morse and is called Morse Code.

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Alexander Graham Bell (1847-1922)
Alexander Graham Bell was a U.S. inventor. On March 10, 1876, Bell invented the telephone while trying to find a way to convert voice sounds into electrical currents. The first words transmitted by telephone were "Mr. Watson, come here, I want you." These words were spoken by Bell to his assistant, Thomas Watson.

The next year, Bell founded the Bell Telephone Company. In 1915, Bell placed the first transcontinental telephone conversation to Watson. Bell was in New York, and Watson was in San Francisco.

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George Eastman (1854-1932)
George Eastman was a U.S. inventor and industrialist. He revolutionized photography.

In 1879, Eastman invented the dry-plate process which reduced the size and weight of photographic equipment. He also designed a flexible film which allowed film to be shaped into a roll of film.

Later, Eastman produced a box camera called Kodak and founded the Eastman Kodak Company.

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Henry Ford (1863-1947)
Henry Ford was a U.S. industrialist. He revolutionized the automobile industry. Ford founded Ford Motors and designed the Model T which was the first affordable car for the common people. This marked the beginning of the Age of the Automobile.

Five years later, Ford introduced the moving assembly line to mass produce Model T cars. This allowed him to make more cars for less money and increase the workers wages while decreasing the hours they worked. This led to the eight hour work day.

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Guglielmo Marconi (1874-1937)
Guglielmo Marconi was an Italian physicist. He invented the wireless telegraph when he was 21 years old. This led him to develop the radio around 1897. Marconi sent the first radio communication between England and France in 1899, and he sent the first transatlantic radio signal between England and Canada in 1901.

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