Industrial Revolution Essay Sample

By 1750 Britain had a social and economic situation that was conducive to an industrial revolution occurring. Relatively small land mass, with navigable rivers had the potential for transport development and for integration in the economy During the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries England’s economic situation had been improved by the growth in agriculture in particular Relative political stability in Britain held them in good stead against other European countries that had religious problems Technology helped in terms of transport and production in agricultural economies (fodder crops etc)

The introduction of the steam engine was also pivotal in the growth of industrial industry A ‘consumer revolution’ from the upper classes filtered down to the middle and lower classes None of these economic changes were critical enough to create an industrial revolution but without this new, solid economic platform that they had by 1750, British industrialisation would have taken much longer than it did. Economic Growth after 1750:

The century following 1750 is named as the birth period of industrial Britain The invention of machines, such as the spinning jenny.The use of steam and the creation of the steam engineThe adoption of the factory system and production linesPopulation Increase-The growth of the industrial economy was coupled with a significant increase in population in Britain In 1700 the population of England was measured at 5.5million people, this figure increased dramatically in size in the following two hundred years to be at 32.5million in 1900 The increase in population coupled up with a change from agricultural industry to a more factory based methods of production and influx of people into the cities.

Wrigley and Schofield’s work on population change have been the orthodox views upon this matter Industrial cities experienced the most rapid increase in population It is debated whether increased birth rates, or improvements in hygiene such as the invention of the smallpox vaccine led to the increase in population Immigration cannot be held responsible for the increase in population.

The Cambridge Group summarised that it was the increase in birth rates that was mainly accountable for the rise in population (Wrigley and Schofield agreed with this) Michael Flinn criticises the methods that W+S used to make their summaries and claimed that their use of ‘back projection’ wasn’t reliable Wrigley argues that the increase in population in regional areas increased the size of local economies, whilst Emma Griffin counters this argument suggesting that the rural economies could not handle such rapid increases in the size of the labour supply and as such mass exodus to cities occurred.

As people flocked to the cities urbanisation occurred, whilst beneficial to the country, the pollution caused was harmful to the environment. Also over population occurred meaning levels of hygiene and crime in the country both went the wrong way Furthermore whilst the national income level increased in the country the actual average wage of a person fell as the labour supply increased. (Schofield)

As the population increased in the country the level of demand in the market increased, meaning the multiplier effect took place Schofield claimed that population change led to an increase of 29% in the demand for manufactured goods in the period 1801-1851 It can be suggested that whilst initially it is clear that the rising level of population did increase the pool of labour supply in the country, and as such the economy benefitted.

Such benefits included; higher national wage, less unemployment, higher level of demand and more incentives for businesses to enter the market. However mass emigration into cities resulted in living standard dropping significantly, and whilst the national level of income rose the average wage for a worker fell as their numbers increased.

Schofield’s conclusion that the population increase had a small impact upon industrial production levels is backed up by much evidence and other historians. Nonetheless the growth in population generally was a positive factor in the growing economy of Britain in the 18th century. Not the only reason for the industrial rev occurring, third world countries have similar population growth rates and don’t experience any substantial economic growth Crime and Punishment-

Before the industrialisation of Britain started there was little communication between villages and life and politics revolved around the church who preached the scriptures that put people in their social places and meant they accepted it Before the revolution Villages were run by the squire and parson and they dealt with any crime in the areas, however the simplicity of this system was destroyed by the industrial revolution As new industrial towns were born overcrowding and bad housing created problems.

Whilst many academics claim the relative political stability in Britain led to the industrial revolution occurring RN Rundle argues that it was actually an age of violence and disorder Riots against high food prices were talked about by historians such as Thompson who developed the idea of the moral economy that argued against the idea that the riots were spasmodic episodes and stated that in fact they were down to deep rooted beliefs and political motivations that the mob held.

Murder and robbery were very common in this time period, and even though the government made the laws much tougher, they were largely ineffective, by making the death penalty in force for so many crimes it just made criminals more likely to commit worse crimes, as they could only be hanged once.

Over 200 crimes were made liable for capital punishment, including pick pocketing and cutting down any public trees Thomas Buxton (a law reformer) stated that as the government introduced the death penalty for many crimes they forgot that their main duty was to prevent the crimes occurring at all Up to 1751 some of the increased levels of crime could have been attributed to the massively increased sales of cheap spirits, however in 1751 a bill was introduced heavily taxing gin and other such spirits As the population increased so did the crime rates

The Gordon Riots of 1780 led to the first police force being created, after 700 lives were lost and hundreds of houses were burnt to the ground The Metropolitan police were introduced in 1829, and were met with an unpopular response, however they was a marked reduction in the amount of robberies at night and the streets seemed quieter

Whilst it got better in London, the criminals with new transport networks left to go to other provinces where there was less authorities During the 19th century the police remained unarmed, and this caused them strain in positions such as the miners strikes and the army had to be called to assist them by this time there was a growing public opinion that the current penal code needed to be completely revamped Robert Peel created prison reforms and abolished the death penalty for over 100 offences, and granted the courts power to provide mercy to criminals except in the case of murder.

After 1838 no-one was hanged for crime except murder or attempted murder Conditions in prison were horrendous and were the same for all prisoners of criminals waiting to be sentenced, potentially innocent

Standard of Life in the Industrial Revolution:Real national income increased, therefore the average person had more money However the average wage in some areas fell as more jobs were created, due to the supply of labour being much higher One group, the pessimists, argues that the living standards of ordinary people fell, while another group, the optimists, believes that living standards rose.

Some academics feel the new capitalist running of the country ‘dark, satanic mills’ (William Blake) meant that the capitalist hierarchy were exploiting the working class The optimists felt that the revolution led to a consumer revolution that meant many more products were made available to the general public, and as such their standard of living rose It is generally agreed that eventually the industrial revolution led to a massive increase in the standard of living, it’s just debated when it actually happened.

The pessimists claimed there was no real increase in the standard of living until the 1840s or even 50s, whilst optimists felt it was more like 1810 Lindert and Williamson found that real wages grew slowly between 1781 and 1819, and secondly that after 1819 real wages grew rapidly for all groups of workers Other researchers concluded that L+W’s estimates were perhaps generous in some areas Wages were found to be higher in the cities than in the country.

Hard to quantify whether the increase in wage was worth it to have to live in much of the squalor that the city created John Brown found that the higher wage were compensation for the poor living conditions, so whilst one area of your life improved, another fell The definition of the term ‘standard of living’ is hard to define as it basically means happiness of a person but obviously this is very hard to quantify, therefore it effectively means economic and health reasons However real income per head is seen as the go to method forassessing standard of living Real income doubled from 1760 to 1860

From 1760-1830 real income only increased by 0.3% a year, so living standards weren’t increasing greatly, therefore could we conclude that the pessimists are correct and that the standard of living didn’t really improve until after 1830 Were the positive aspects of the industrial revolution dampened due to the frequent wars such as the Napoleonic wars and the high tax rates that went with them Also the rapid population growth affected the positive aspects that the industrial revolution brought (Clark Nardinelli) Many reforms were passed that improved working conditions in the country

Social Protest Movements-The Luddites:The Luddites believed that the creation of new machinery such as the spinning jenny would lead to an increase in unemployment as people were not required anymore In 1811 the most violent social protest of the industrial revolution broke out, it started with letters from the Luddites being sent to manufacturers of Nottingham about how the public were angry that wages were being lowered in the area and skilled workers were being forced into unskilled jobs.

As a result of this many workers began to revolt, breaking into factories and destroying much machinery in the factories The movement of Luddism spread across England’s industrial areas in the following years Whilst damage was normally limited to machinery and the like, violence toward people and killings did occur.

The government moved swiftly to crush the Luddite movement and they made it a capital offence to break machinery, armies were sent to areas where Luddite protests were common and as such more protests were quelled 23 people were executed for their involvements with the Luddites By 1817 the Luddite movement had been stopped

An increase in the price of bread led to riots taking place across England, Thompsons moral economy theorised that the reason behind the riots was an old deep rooted one backed up by the fact that the mobs never looted any actual produce Riots against high food prices were talked about by historians such as Thompson who developed the idea of the moral economy that argued against the idea that the riots were spasmodic episodes and stated that in fact they were down to deep rooted beliefs and political motivations that the mob held.

After supressing the actions of the luddites the government struggled to supress the growing discontent around the country, workers were becoming more interested in politics and were demanding better conditions for work and other things Two radicals including Richard Carlile were to speak to a crowd of 50,000 people, the army were called to quell any potential riots.

However there was no riots but the army stormed into the peaceful crowd and killed and injured many people, many of the soldiers were thought to be drunk at the time, but the government still fully supported them. This incensed the radicals even more and created a bigger divide between the government and the public. (peterloo massacre)