Industrial Revolution The Industrial Revolution was a transformation of culture in Europe in the 18th century. It was not just an improvement in terms of technology, but also a change from rural to urban markets and from family-based to industry-based economy.
Even though some argued that the Industrial Revolution in Britain brought negative effects such as pollution and social turmoil, the revolution made impressive economic improvements in the development of Britain, which included technical advancements, the emergence of economic liberalism, expansion of the middle class, agricultural development and better living conditions for the lower class.
At first, the Industrial Revolution introduced contamination and social disorder to Britain. New factories were built and the waste they produced went into the rivers and polluted the water. The pollutants produced from the factories were not properly filtered and therefore, contaminated the air. Lands were over cultivated to produce more yields for the rising population.
The divorce rate, crime rate, and suicide rate were higher than before, and diseases were more widely spread because of the congregation of people and their poor hygiene in crowded cities. Some critics marked this era as the beginning of environment devastation since humans started to have control over their environment.
Despite the harmful outcomes the Industrial Revolution brought, its economic impact on technology allowed more production and trading in Britain, for which the Spinning Jenny was invented, canals were built, and steam power was discovered.
One of the many technical inventions was the Spinning Jenny, a multi-spool spinning wheel. Manufacturing cotton was time consuming before the invention, but with the Spinning, a worker could work eight or more spools simultaneously. Thus, the invention of the Spinning Jenny made cotton much cheaper and more marketable by producing it in greater quantity and better quality with less labor and time.
As the demand for cotton increased because of population growth by the end of 18th century, the manufacture of cotton on wheels moved from small families to large factories, a change from individual effort to collaboration. The good thing about working in a larger group was that larger quantities of cheaper items could be produced with less time in the demands of the growing trade, whereas small businesses could only produced limited amount of items.
Another important improvement was the building of canals. Many canals were built in the 1800s, for example, the 96 mile Grand Trunk canal that connected the Trent and Mersey. These canals allowed better communication between people, bringing people from different areas together. Henceforth, improvement in communication between different areas raised more interest in commerce, so workers, especially middleclass men, switched their jobs from work at small workshops to work at bigger factory businesses, a change from independence to dependence upon other people and a change from agriculture to manufacture. Furthermore, canals permitted transportation of goods from one place to another, which reduced the cost of goods. As the cost of necessities went down, more people were able to afford them, and businesses that produced them prospered. Because of mechanical improvements, trading and commerce flourished.
Also, steam power and steam engine were discovered, to replace man power. The Newcomens engine was the first steam engine in use. The engine used the condensation of steam as a driving force, but unfortunately the method was not efficient. Then, James Watt, a helper of Newcomer, improved the Newcomen’s engine by adding a separate condenser, allowing the steam condensed in a separate container rather than in the cylinder itself. Watts invention conserved energy that might be lost during the heating and cooling of the cylinder, which saved up to 75 percent of the fuel of the Newcomens engine.
Consequently, this invention of steam power led to a tremendous increase in coal production, so the coal companies profited from the use of steam power. Steam power also took the place of human power, which reduced the time and energy needed to carry out varies texts. In additions, transporting products with packhorses was expensive before the industrial revolution.
These packhorses needed many breaks and a lot of care and would also slow down when carrying the heavy loads; On the other hand, shipping items was more efficient and inexpensive with the steam engines. Before the invention, factories had to be built around streams, since they relied on water power to start the machines. Yet, the use of steam engine meant that factories could be built anywhere.
Moreover, the emergence of economic liberalism, a philosophy that led to liberation of English manufacturers from governments restrictions from 1815 to 1850, allowed British merchants to trade with other countries. Before the 1800s, mercantilism allowed the government to control major trades and restrict individual businesses.
Mercantilism was an economic theory of which described the amount of resources in the world was unchangeable and that wealthy people shared accumulate precious metals, which emphasized on conserving the nations wealth and taking goods away from other countries.
Thus, mercantilism motivated many European wars of the period, causing damages and a huge money lose. Views upon mercantilism changed when the critic Adam Smith questioned the governments right to restrict commerce in the book, Wealth of Nations, which argued that British laws hindered the expansion of trade and production and weakened the economy of the nation.
Economic liberalism stated that government should have no control over the individuals’ economic lives nor should it interfere with the market. When people were free to follow interest and act without restrictions, the nation would be, according to him, the strongest. Even though the government should not interfere with individuals rights, it should help with the building of public works like roads, canals, schools and bridges, which could not be done by individuals alone.
Moreover, economic liberalism encouraged the production of metals, and new devices improved the standard lives during the industrialization. Without doubt, Britain could manufacture cheaper cotton goods in greater quantity for the demands of the marketplace only if individual businesses joined the production. Thus, trading boomed and exports increased.
In addition, middle-class peoples income and status rose, making them more significant in the society. The Industrial Revolution was described as the century of the middle class because of the progression of the middle class. The middle class became so powerful that it gained control over the English government.
They were so influential at the time that the government had to pass laws in favor of the middle classs economic interest. One of many examples was the Reform Bill of 1832 passed by the demand of the middle class, which allowed 20 percent of the male population to vote. This bill favored the middle class because they gained more political power. Also, the votes were more accurately represented the larger population, whereas before, the aristocrats votes were the only that mattered. Additionally, as they worked in significant roles such as, lawyers, doctors, government officials, and writers, middle classmen were seen more highly.
Illustrating middle class progression, Adam Smith’s The Wealth of Nations proposed that the only legitimate goal of national government and human activity is the steady increase in the overall wealth of the nation, and stressed the important role that the middle class played in the work place. The Industrial Revolution was the time when people started recognizing that the nations economic status depended upon the wealth of the middle class, in contrast with the idea that the nations wealth relied on the kings wealth as when mercantilism was practiced.
What’s more, the Agricultural Revolution encouraged more production through improved farming techniques, and the Potato Act provided more food for survival. Before the Industrial Revolution, a village would divide its surrounding field into three parts of lands that was shared between villagers. Within the divided lands, two of them were for wheat and barley while the other one stood fallow. This system had many defects. First, villagers could not choose the kinds of crops to plant, because they only had the choice of either wheat or barley.
Moreover, time was wasted on walking around the field, and animals walked around fields without fences and crushed the growing crops. Besides, it was hard to try new techniques when the lands and farming tools were shared with other villagers. Each year, fallowed lands were wasted, which could be utilized to increase yield. Because of all the flaws mentioned above, enclosure was introduced, which involved an act of bringing all the scattered lands together and dividing them between villagers with fences. Between 1800 and 1810, Parliament passed more than 900 acts of enclosure.
After all, farmers did not need to waste time on walking around the unconfined lands. In fact, they could work in one area and know where to expect crops to grow. Enclosing lands also increased surplus food that was needed to feed the growing population. Furthermore, land enclosure made it easier for farmers to try out new farming methods and experiment with different types of fertilizer through the study of science.
Thus, farming was beginning to be seen as something as intelligent as the study of science. Machinery was invented especially for the purpose of improving the efficiency cutting grain, and low yielding crops such as rye were replaced by higher yielding types such as wheat. One of the many new farming methods was marling; it was a way of producing better crops to earn more profit by mixing rich and poor soils together. On the other hand, the Potato Act advocated the eating of potatoes to resolve famine. Potato could be eaten in many ways, boiled, baked or roasted and eaten with salt, butter, juice, or sugar.
It was filling like bread and rice, and potato cultivation was much cheaper than wheat. In the book The Family Dictionary, or Household Companion, William Salmon explained that They [Potatoes] increase seed and provoke lust, causing fruitfulness in both sexes: and stop all sorts of fluxes of the belly, describing the excellence of potato cultivation. Therefore, potato cultivation was widely encouraged, and potato was served as every day meal in many families.
Last, the lower class earned more money as more job opportunities were available. Laborers working on farms were able to build homes on their masters lands, because they earned so much money from more agricultural production. Farmers incomes were higher from the increase in yield. In comparison to farmers, factory workers were even better paid. When farmers and factory workers both worked many hours, farmers daily tasks were more varied.
While factory workers had stipends, farmers incomes were more varied depending on the farms seasonal yield. As a result, the Industrial Revolution gave lower class people like farmers and factory workers opportunities to live better lives.
The Industrial Revolution had a great impact on Britains economy, making Britain most advanced country of the time. When the second most developed country, Belgium, still had over half of it population working on agriculture, Britain had only a quarter, so Britain was way ahead of other countries.
Thanks to the Industrial Revolution, lower class people had more opportunities to earn a living and middle class held most of the power and had most control over both the economy and government. Also, the agricultural revolution and the potato act provided enough food so that famine was no longer a problem. Moreover, the emergence of economic liberalism allowed merchants to trade, and advancement in technology promoted more production of trading goods. After all, industrialization meant that men could not only understand their environment but also have control over it.
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