During the 1800’s, Europe went through great changed as a result of the Industrial Revolution. Technological advanced improved life, but problems in factories made life worse for the workers. Industrial processes impacted work, home, and city life for the workers. Common laborers working in cities were socially and economically affected in a negative way by the Industrial Revolution due to diseases that developed and poor living condition that were present, causing the working class to become even poorer.
Workers developed diseases and other disabilities because of harsh working conditions in factories. Long hours of work and low pay were responsible for the development of disease and disabilities. According to Henry Mayhew “out of the 12,800 deaths which, within the last three months, have arisen from cholera, 6,500 have occurred” in areas where factory workers resided. Diseases were more likely to develop in areas where factory workers lived because of unsanitary working and living conditions.
It would have been helpful is a source from a worker who suffered from cholera had been provided. This source would have been helpful in understanding how diseases affected the workers and their families. The living conditions of workers were so poor that inhabitants had to “pass into and out of the court only by passing though the fool pools of stagnant urine and excrement” according to Friederich Engels.
The bacterium that was present in the urine and excrement led to many diseases. Children in mills were often required to work over 15 hours, and children began to develop physical deformities. According to Hannah Brown, a nine year old girl “both [her] knees [were] rather turned in”. The body of a nine year old girl who was still growing, could not handle the harsh working conditions, and developed deformities. Adults such as William Dodd, who worked in factories as a child “began to feel some painful symptoms in [his] right wrist, arising from the general weakness of [his] joints”.
Children worked long hours without any breaks, and were forced to stand the entire time, causing their joints to become tired and worn out, causing future health problems. This sources point of view should be taken into account because he was writing about disabilities he suffered as a child worker and may not have remembered exactly what happened and may have over exaggerated the disabilities he suffered.
Lower wages and dangerous working conditions led to poor living conditions for workers. After wages were reduced, strikers tried to oppose the reduction of wages, but were unsuccessful. According to Harriet. H. Robinson, “the girls were soon tired of holding out, and they went back to their work at the reduced rate of wages”.
Without work, the girls would have suffered at home, so even though wages were low, the girls depended on the money to survive. It would have been helpful if a source from a girl who was involved in the strike had been included This would have helped understand what it was like fighting for higher wages. Hannah Brown, who was forced to work at a factory “began at sic o’clock and worked till nine at night” and had her hair and ears pulled by the factory owner.
Workers including children were treated badly and worked in harsh, dangerous conditions that resulted in permanent disabilities, and were paid a very small amount that made life at home difficult. A picture taken by Lewis Hine showed that after children worked long hours in the mills, as many children were forced to, returned home, coming home to their second job of sewing garters. Due to the low wages in mills, families needed a second job to make ends meet and escape poverty. Not all families were able to find a second job however, so many workers lived in courts that according to Friederich Engels “[contained] unqualifiedly the most horrible dwellings which [he had] yet beheld”.
Many families who suffered from poverty could not afford expensive houses and were forced to live in terribly conditions with only the bare necessities in life. Lewis Hine also photographed a family’s home that contained one room with a small bed, no closet, and a desk used as a kitchen. Families could not afford large homes with multiple rooms, so they were forced to live with whatever they could afford, even if it meant poor living conditions.
This sources point of view should be taken into consideration because as a photographer, he would want to show the worst possible conditions, making the Industrial Revolution seem even worse.
Due to low wages, the working class became poor making their living conditions on a financial basis difficult and causing class tension. The upper class got the profits from mills and factories making them richer, while the poor received low wages, making their poorer.
The houses built alongside mills were often where workers were forced to live and “the method of construction [was] as crowded and disorderly” and a place of “filth and disgusting grime” according to Friederich Engels. In order for the upper class to increase profits, they spent less money on the houses and put more houses in a smaller area, but still charged an outrageous amount for a decent house, making workers poorer. Even though living conditions were poor for workers, Andrew Ure saw many workers “earning abundant food, raiment, and domestic accommodation, without perspiring at a single pore”.
Factory workers were forced to work over 12 hour days every day, and were paid the smallest amount possible, making it hard for many workers to afford food for their families and a quality place to live. This sources point of view should be taken into account because if the factory owner would have known that someone was coming into his factory to write a story on his factory, he would have changed the way the workers were treated for the days in which he toured their facilities, making factories seem like the best place to work.
“Poor Home”, a photograph taken by Lewis Hine shows how the lives of the working class have became difficult on a financial basis because workers could not afford homes that were very sanitary or not run down and that usually did not included enough beds for the entire family, a kitchen, or anything for the children to do while at home. Without sanitary living conditions, diseases developed, and the poor were unable to work, causing more financial grief for the family, making life even harder.
It would have been helpful if a source from a member of a poor family suffering to survive would have been included. This would have been helpful in understanding just how hard life was for the families of the working class. “A Filthy Father Thames” was a political cartoon drawn by an unknown source that explained the social tension between the upper and working class.
Standing in the boat is a man dressed nicely in a tuxedo who represents the upper class, and the monster in the filthy water represents the lower working class. The monster living in the filthy water represented the poor who lived in unsanitary housing conditions, with the upper class standing over them, and handing him a handkerchief in order to clean himself up. The upper class saw the working class as dirty and a disgrace to society even though it was the fault of the upper class that the working class could not afford to live in sanitary conditions.
The Industrial Revolution created hardships for workers at home, in the factories, and in the cities. Diseases developed as a result of unsanitary living and working conditions. The unsanitary living conditions were a result of low wages given in the factories.
The unhealthy working conditions, low wages, and poor living conditions created social tension between the upper class and the working class because the upper class saw themselves as better than everyone else. These problems created even more social and economic problems that the working class had to deal with, making the period of the Industrial Revolution unpleasant for the workers and their families.