The First Industrial Revolution

With the production of new machines that replaced wind and water with coal and steam, Industrialization required a different way to organize the way work was being done. Industrialization also spread to various countries at different times and speeds during the nineteenth century. The Industrial Revolution triggered a huge leap in industrial production. There were technological and human labor changes, an impact on the working and middle classes, and also social impacts on the population growth and on urbanization.

These are only a few reasons why the Industrial Revolution had such a big impact on America. The Industrial Revolution began in Britain and then spread to continental countries like Europe and the United States sometime after 1750, and it ended around 1850. The goal of the Industrial Revolution was to ultimately industrialize Britain. As well as improving agriculturally, Britain experienced a rapid population growth that provided a pool of surplus labor for the new factories of the emerging industry.

Britain had a great supply of capital, and an effective central bank. Although Britain had an ample supply of mineral resources, their government too played an important role in the process of industrialization. Overall, the most significant factor leading to Britain’s success was their ability to produce the most demanded items cheaply. However, their methods of production weren’t up to par so manufacturers came up with other ways to speed up production.

These creations started the Industrial Revolution. In order to produce more efficiently there had to be changes within the textile industry. In 1760 James Watt built a steam powered engine that pumped water from mines three times as quickly as engines previously created. This invention allowed for more coal to be recovered from the mines. In 1782, James invented a rotary engine that turned shafts and ultimately powered machinery.

Using steam power with the spinning and cotton weaving machines, cotton mills and steam engines were multiplying all over Britain. Cotton was now Britain’s most important product in value. In 1787, Edmund Cartwright invented a “loom” that was powered by water. It was a more efficient way of bringing in workers to organize these machines in factories since these workplaces were located next to rivers and streams.

There was a higher level of productivity within the cotton industry thanks to the steam engine. By 1840, about 370 million pounds of cotton were being imported and cotton goods were sold all over the world. The British iron industry was also transformed during the Industrial Revolution. A higher quality of iron was formed once a man named Henry Cort developed a new system.

This system was called “puddling” where coke derived from coal, was used to burn impurities out of crude iron to produce a better quality of iron and thus, causing a big boom in the British iron industry.(Duiker) This newer quality of iron was used to create new machines and even brand new industries. Richard Trevithick worked on the first locomotive powered by steam. His ambition caused others to look into making better engines and locomotives. George Stephenson and his son made a “rocket” that was named superior than any other locomotives.

This rocket was used on the first public railway line that stretched from Liverpool to Manchester. Within twenty years, Britain had almost six thousand miles of railroads. The railroad was significant to the success of the Industrial Revolution because it created new job opportunities specifically for farmers or peasants. The most important aspect was that there was now a cheaper and faster way to travel. As the prices of goods dropped, markets grew and increased sales meant more factories and more machinery, thereby reinforcing the self-sustaining aspect of the Industrial Revolution—a development that marked a fundamental break with the traditional European economy. (Duiker)

Factories replaced workshops and workrooms and they created a new labor system. Workers were obligated to work regular shifts and hours to keep production rates steady because factory owners wanted to keep the machines running constantly. Factory owners created a work discipline that got their workers used to working regular hours and doing repetitive jobs. Work was boring and to assure workers that their jobs were serious, owners used tough methods to make sure things got done.

They issued minute and factory regulations that kept everything in an ordered fashion. For example, workers were given infractions or sometimes even dismissed if they were late for work or they were drinking and things of that nature. They were fined as well because the adult workers were supposed to be setting a good example for the younger workers. However, the younger workers weren’t accustomed to the dismissal punishment because they were beaten instead.

Soon second and third generation workers were viewing a regular workweek as a way of life. By the mid-nineteenth century, Britain was the world’s first and richest nation. Great Britain was the “workshop, banker, and trader of the world”. (Duiker) They produced half of the world’s manufactured goods and its cotton industry by itself was equal in size to industries of all other European countries combined. Eventually, the Industrial Revolution revolutionized the social life of Europe and the rest of the world.

The European population began to grown more rapidly in the nineteenth century. There were four main reasons why the population growth grew rapidly during this period of industrialization. (Montagna) The reasons were a decline in the death rate, an increase in the birth rate, the elimination of plagues and an increase in the availability of food. People also changed their diets and they were in better health which made them more resistant to diseases. Institutional menus indicated that the diets improved in terms of caloric intake.

In the early 1750’s, the total European population was estimated to be at one hundred forty million and by 1850 had skyrocketed to about two hundred sixty-six million. In 1800, one of Great Britain’s major cities London had a population of one million citizens. Nearly fifty years later, their population grew to almost two million five hundred. Urban cities grew as well just at a slower pace. The most obvious transformation was urbanization that was itself started by the rise of factory production. (“The Industrial Revolution,”) Most urban areas housed factory workers whom they shared with their families. However, many of these areas had poor living conditions.

Many people lived in small rooms with maybe two or three people to one bed. Many families were sick from sharing small quarters with excess people. Sanitary conditions outside of these homes were ridiculous as well. Sewers and drains were open on the streets and many contained animals, food dirty water and even trash. The air in these cities was unbearable and obviously unhealthy. Because coal was being used a lot, the cities were covered in black soot. Towns and cities were named death traps because there were more deaths than births in these areas.

Only a constant influx of people from the country kept citizens alive and growing. (Duiker) As the Industrial Revolution picked up speed, Britain’s social and political structure drastically transformed. “The middle class became more vigorous, more numerous, and more ambitious, thanks to the new entrepreneurs, part creator and part beneficiary of the economic developments that were rapidly changing Britain into the first industrial nation and the workshop of the world.

And in turn, the growth of manufacturing meant that the first industrial proletariat also came into being: an exploited working class, crowded in cities and slums, subjected to stern factory discipline, and often degraded, disoriented, and discontented as a result. Inevitably, the workers and their employers were locked in conflict that was bitter and violent, and the factory owners almost invariably won. Moreover, the passing of the Great Reform Act of 1832 confirmed that the middle classes had superseded the aristocracy as the chief power in the state, dominating the economy, politics, and ideology of the nineteenth century as surely and securely as the landowners had previously dominated the eighteenth.” (Cannadine)

The rise of industrial capitalism produced a new kind of middle class. The bourgeoisie wasn’t new; in fact they’ve existed since the Middle Ages. (Duiker) In the beginning the bourgeoisie or burgher, was classified as a town dweller, and was active as a merchant, official, artisan, lawyer, or a man of letters.

Many of these people lived normal lives. As people began to earn lots of money, the term bourgeois started to be used when describing people involved in commerce, industry, banking and other professions no matter where they lived. Persons of the new middle class had qualities that consisted of resourcefulness, single-mindedness, initiative, ambition, and of course greed. Jedediah Strutt, a cotton manufacturer said, “Getting of money…is the main business of the life of men.” Many middle class citizens would often try to separate themselves from the laborers who were categorized inferior to them.

Before, the working class was a mix and variety of people. However, factory workers formed an industrial proletariat that constituted a majority of the working class. These working class citizens also had horrible working conditions. They worked shifts that ranged from twelve to sixteen hours a day, six days a week, with half an hour breaks for lunch and dinner. (Duiker) They had no job security and no minimum wage. Children often as young as seven also worked twelve to fifteen hours a day, six days a week in cotton mills.

The worst conditions were at the cotton mills where temperatures made some so weak they were unable to continue their jobs. Mills were also dirty, dusty, and unhealthy environments. Conditions in the coal mines were just as bad. Men, women, and children hauled coal carts on rails to the lifts on the inside of the mines even though there was steam powered engines used to do so. Cave-ins, explosions, and gas fumes were a way of life for these workers.

The mines were often only about three or four feet high and the constant dampness of the mines sometimes led to ruined lungs and deformed bodies. Children and women worked in large numbers at factories and mines.

Children have played an important role in the family economy before industrialization but now they were being exploited more than ever. Factory owners found children to be a cheap source of labor. They found that a child’s small stature made it easier to gather loose cotton from under machines. (Duiker) In 1821, almost half of the working population was under twenty years old. In 1830, women and children were two thirds of the cotton industry’s labor.

The Factory Act of 1833 however, prohibited employment of children under the age of nine and restricted the working hours of those under eighteen, and the number of children employed declined. (Duiker) After the children employment rates went down, the women’s rates went up since they were taking the newly opened positions. Women made up fifty percent of the labor in textile factories. They were seen as unskilled labor and were paid half or less of what men were. In 1842, the British Mines Act forbade the use of children younger than thirteen and women of any age in the mines.

S women went back to taking care of their households and children while the men continued to work to provide for their families. In the first half of the nineteenth century, after the conditions of the slums, mines and factories were exposed people looked to make an effort to change the way they were living. One of the movements was known as socialism. This term eventually became associated with a Marxist analysis of human society.

Early socialism was largely a product of a group of intellectuals who believed in the equality of all people and wanted to replace competition with cooperation in industry. To later socialist, especially the followers of Karl Marx, such ideas were merely impractical dreams, and they labeled these theorists Utopian Socialists. Robert Owen was a utopian socialist who believed that humans would show their true natural goodness if they lived in a cooperative environment. (Duiker)

In Scotland, he transformed a neglected factory town into a flourishing, healthy community. However, fighting within the town eventually destroyed his dream. Another movement for change came through the formation of labor organizations called trade unions to gain decent wages and working conditions. A few unions were willing to strike in order to get the improvements they wanted.

The largest and most successful of theses unions in Britain was the Amalgamated Society of Engineers, started in 1851. The nineteenth century certainly experienced a boom with the success of the Industrial Revolution. With the new inventions and ideas put on the table, Britain was able to flourish and be the leader of the Industrial era.

The Industrial revolution had many affects, both positive and negative, and ultimately as planned industrialized Britain. With the changes in technology, workers were able to produce more efficiently and human labor was now more organized. The middle and working classes were able to increase due to production of new factories and coal mines. Although cities were beginning to overpopulate and urbanize, life for people in Great Britain had ultimately gotten better. Thanks to the Industrial Revolution, Great Britain was now successfully thriving.

Endnotes i (Duiker 2007)ii Ibidiii Ibidiv v (Komlos 1990)vi The growth of citiesvii viii The class of wage earners, especially those who earn their living by manual labor or who are dependent for support on daily or casual employment; the working class ix (Duiker 2007)

x No females or boys under ten were to be employed underground. However, ten to eighteen year old boys were allowed. xi (In Marxist theory) is the stage following capitalism in the transition of a society to communism, characterized by imperfect implementation of collective principles. xii Utopian Socialism is an economic system based on the premise that if capital voluntarily surrendered its ownership of the means of production to state or the workers, unemployment and poverty would be abolished. xiii Trade Unions were formed by skilled workers in a number of new industries, including ironworkers and coal miners.

——————————————–[ 1 ]. (Duiker 2007)[ 2 ]. (Duiker 2007)[ 3 ]. (Duiker 2007)[ 4 ]. [ 5 ]. (Komlos 1990)[ 6 ]. The growth of cities[ 7 ]. [ 8 ]. The class of wage earners, especially those who earn their living by manual labor or who are dependent for support on daily or casual employment; the working class [ 9 ]. (Duiker 2007)

[ 10 ]. No females or boys under ten were to be employed underground. However, ten to eighteen year old boys were allowed. [ 11 ]. (In Marxist theory) is the stage following capitalism in the transition of a society to communism, characterized by imperfect implementation of collective principles. [ 12 ].

Utopian Socialism- an economic system based on the premise that if capital voluntarily surrendered its ownership of the means of production to state or the workers, unemployment and poverty would be abolished. [ 13 ]. Trade Unions were formed by skilled workers in a number of new industries, including ironworkers and coal miners.