Industrial Revolution

The industrial revolution was a time of great change in the way people lived. The word revolution means change and from this we know that there was a large change to industry and society. The revolution began in the 18th and 19th century and consisted of factories replacing machines for hand labor. It is very important to know the causes of the industrial revolution, then it becomes possible to adequately evaluate the industrial revolution itself. The inventions, social classes, and working conditions are all among things that hold importance when discussing the industrial revolution.

The industrial revolution was caused by many things, instead of just one major event. To begin, the agricultural revolution caused a major rise of population in England. This population growth caused a higher demand for clothing. New financial innovations such as banks, stock markets, and joint stock companies encouraged people to take new risks with investing and trading.

Also the scientific revolution encouraged people to think in new scientific and technological ways. The coal and iron industries were of extreme importance during this time. Deposits were abundant in Great Britain and were essential to the development of new machines.

The cottage industry relied heavily on these machines, hourly wages, and cloth production. Government Policies in England toward property and commerce also encouraged modernism and the spread of global trade. The government created patent laws that allowed inventors to benefit financially from the “intellectual property” of their inventions. There were many extremely valuable inventions that came about during the industrial revolution. They made certain tasks easier which made things faster and cheaper.

The steam engine is a heat engine that uses water/steam as its working fluid. The steam engine was not something that was just invented by one person, but was devolved over time by additions made by multiple people all over the world. It heavily impacted mass production and shipping materials. It was also valuable in transportation. In return this affected communication since steam-powered locomotives and vehicles, and ships were used in transporting mails. Before the steam engine, the only sources of power were human or animal labor. It can be inferred that the steam engine made life much easier during this time period.

The spinning jenny was a multi-spindle spinning frame. It was invented in 1764 by James Hargreaves. The machine used eight spindles onto which the thread was spun, so by turning a single wheel, the operator could now spin eight threads at once. This increased to eighty with improvements in the technology. The spinning jenny made it possible for one person to do the work of several other people. This successfully ended the system of cottage industry, which threw a lot of people into complete poverty and impoverishment.

There were not enough jobs for all the people who had previously supported themselves through producing yarn and then selling it from their homes, because the spinning jenny made them needless. This obviously had a colossal effect on the lives and livelihoods of thousands of people. The cotton gin was invented in 1793 by Eli Whitney. It is a machine that quickly and easily separates cotton fibers from their seeds.

This made cotton easier and quicker to manufacture, and benefited the cotton-pickers. All of the inventions during the industrial revolution made things move quicker. It sped up the process in During the industrial revolution, two social classes emerged, the middle class and working class. Before the Industrial revolution, there was only the really rich and the really poor, also known as the nobles and peasants. The middle class consisted of business owners, lawyers and doctors. The businessmen bought and owned the factories and machines.

The people in the middle-class had the right to vote and help other important positions in parliament. The middle class grew large and almost imitated the upper class. They held large expensive parties, and wore very nice clothes. They would not have servants but they may have had a nanny. This created opportunity for people.

There also was the becoming of millionaires. Leland Stanford was one of these millionaires who were a tycoon, industrialist, politician and founder of Stanford University. The working class was the poorest class. The working class consisted of the people who worked in factories. The working conditions were horrible and many children worked.

The emergence of these classes had good and bad effects. The middle class was growing in size and wealth, but there was still the working class, which was very poor. During the industrial revolution, working conditions were simply horrible for that of the working class. Most people worked 14-16 hours a day, six days a week. They were payed extremely low wages, and women received much lower than men. The factories had very dangerous machines with unprotected parts. Many factories were dark, with few windows. There were few break times. It was dusty and dirty, and the particles in the air (specifically when working with cotton) caused lung disease.

The living conditions of the working class were also terrible. There was usually about 6-9 people in a small apartment room. There was no adequate police enforcement. This resulted in an increased crime rate and overpopulated prisons. This also led to more crimes being punished with the death penalty. During the industrial revolution the extremely unsafe and dirty working conditions did not just extend to adults, but also children. Children as young a six were working 12 hour shifts in factories.

Many accidents that occurred involved children falling in between a dangerous machine or getting their finger chopped off. Not until the Factory Act of 1833 did things start to improve. Children were paid only a fraction of what an adult would get, and sometimes factory owners would pay them nothing. Orphans were the ones subject to this slave-like labor. The factory owners justified giving them no pay by saying that they gave the orphans food, shelter, and clothing, all of which were far below average.

The treatment of the children working in the factories was cruel. The factory owners would often beat them, as they worked. One common punishment for being late or not working up to quota would be to be "weighted." An overseer would tie a heavy weight to worker's neck, and have them walk up and down the factory aisles so the other children could see them and "take example." The industrial revolution was a time of great imagination and development.

The inventions that allowed new products to be manufactured created a demand that caused a vicious cycle that propelled some people to prosperity, while at the same time held people down in poverty. It was almost never the intent of the inventors, scientists, and other brilliant people to cause such a chasm between the working class and the industrial machine, but it was, nonetheless, created. The role of government today in regulating industry is targeted more towards defending the worker.

Back in the early days of the industrial revolution it was the opposite. Life for people who worked in factories and mills often had appalling wages and working conditions. Workers finally had to work together to improve their wages and working conditions and this often resulted in violent confrontations. Some of these issues still exist today. Some may argue the industrial revolution is still happening, but is it?