The Industrial Revolution was a period of great change. Many new innovations that no one had ever seen before were being produced during this time period. It was somewhat of a cultural phenomenon that influenced people’s lives forever. This time period in history was very eventful because the age of enlightenment, The American Revolution, and The French Revolution all took place during this time period. The most important thing that Great Britain benefited from during this Industrial Revolution actually turned out to be caused by the brilliant ideas that powered the reformation of the economy.
These new inventive thoughts and ideas sparked the emergence of a mass industry. As a result of this new reformation, working conditions drastically improved, and the tedious work hours were also reduced. I found this quote in one of my journals and it pertains to the mentality that these workers had to have back before their working conditions improved “All diversions were regarded as wrong, because it was believed that successful production demanded long hours, a bare life, a mind without temptation to think or remember, to look before or behind” (West 369).
This led to an overall higher standard of living amongst the people of Great Britain. Before the Industrial Revolution, Great Britain was assumed to be just a miniscule island nation, full of nothing more than the simplistic beauties of nature.
They had rapid flowing rivers, acres of open green fields, and not to mention, a very well built network of canals. They were very fortunate because of the combination of economic, cultural, and natural resources that they had available. Those valuable resources that they possessed, along with their prime location for importing and exporting goods are what set the Industrial Revolution off in Great Britain.
The Industrial Revolution started altering people’s lives because they were modifying their methods of manufacturing, the way that people made a living, and the products that were available to them. Great Britain’s agriculture was suddenly “transformed” by a variety of innovative new techniques, which would ultimately improve their efficiency and require much less manual labor. Not only that, but they were also learning how to grow new crops, and they began to start enclosing their fields and pastures.
“This turned the open fields into large fenced tracts that were privately owned and individually managed by commercial landlords” (Coffin 581). People began to gradually notice these changes in their way of life because things were going from being rural to becoming urbanized. By the 1800s, many improvements had been made to make manufacturing goods a lot simpler. The inventions of the flying shuttle, spinning jenny, water frame, spinning mule, and cotton gin all contributed greatly to the rise of the textile industry.
“By the 1830s, women and children accounted for roughly two-thirds of the labor force in textile mills” (Coffin 538). More innovations during this time lead to the British switching from burning wood to burning coal for heating molten metal to make iron because they had an abundance of coal, and it was a lot more efficient than wood. Britain had more than enough goods and resources to be able to export large amounts of both coal and iron to rapidly expanding markets around the world. The invention of the steam engine by Newcomen in the year 1711 was also a huge contribution during this time. James Watt and Matthew Boulton later improved Newcomen’s invention in 1763.
This was another huge step forward for the world as a whole because these inventions are basically what laid down the foundation for another great innovation to be created: The Steam-driven locomotive. This new invention vastly improved the transportation of goods and services, and was also a reliable source of transportation for people to travel on later. Railway construction required a large investment of monetary funds, though. It was too much financially for any single individual to contribute alone. So, they had to forge some new kinds of public and private ﬁnancing.
The scale of production grew and the tempo of economic activity also increased, which increased the search for more coal, the production of more iron, the mobilization of more capital, and of course, the recruitment of more labor. Continental Europe was not like Britain in terms of the whole Industrial Revolution and rapid economic growth. Great Britain was far ahead of Continental Europe in the eighteenth century when it came to development in their economy. Major industrial changes, like the ones seen in Britain, didn’t occur until the 1830s.
Britain’s transportation system was very highly developed compared to those of France and Germany. France was far larger than England, but its rivers are more difficult to navigate; its seaports, cities, and coal deposits are farther apart. Those reasons made France inferior to England in terms of location and resources. During the 18th century, The French population increased and mechanization had begun in some major industries. The political issues that followed shortly after that, and the financial strains of warfare both did nothing positive towards their economic development.
After 1815, things began to look more promising for their economic climate. Rising population, improved transportation, and construction of railroads all played a role in continental Europe’s newfound success towards economic stability. Another reason why the continental model of industrialization is different from that of Great Britain is because the government of continental Europe holds a more direct role than that of Great Britain’s.
The continental government definitely seems like it is more directly involved in the decision making of how to allocate their resources. Now, Where was the USA during all of this? Well the industrial revolution began in Britain during the mid 18th century, but the American colonies were far behind the British in industrialization. This was in part because of the abundance of land, but also the scarcity of labor opportunities in the new world.
This greatly reduced people’s interest in expensive investments in machine production in the Colonies. The colonies were still mainly rural at this time and the author of one of the scholarly journals that I read did a fantastic job describing the a classic pre-Industrial scene that he was imagining; “The flat and well watered plains of southeastern Massachusetts are crisscrossed by highways and dotted with towns and cities, but somehow the pattern of urbanization has left surprising gasps” (Gibb 103).
The American Colonies Nevertheless, with the gradual shifting from hand made to machine made products, a new era of human experience slowly began. Increased productivity created a much higher standard of living than anyone had ever known in the pre-industrial world. The beginning of the American Industrial Revolution is often times attributed to a man named Samuel Slater, who opened the first industrial mill in the United States in 1790. In order to catch up with the economically booming countries of that time period, we had to first take care of a few necessary things. Those things were: First, transportation was expanded. Second, electricity was effectively harnessed.
Third, improvements were made to industrial processes such as improving the refining process and accelerating production. As factories and industries arose, people moved away from farms to big cities. This change led to some other issues, including overcrowding and disease. “Advances were made in agriculture too, including much-improved machines and cultivators.
For example, Cyrus McCormick created the reaper, which allowed quicker and cheaper harvesting of grain” (Coffin 581). There were many factors that affected the progress of America’s goal of becoming a successful and wealthy economic nation through out the years, but with the right steps taken during the Industrial Revolution, The United States economy does grow exponentially some years after the revolution. None of it would be possible, though, without the Pioneers who made the contributions to the development and growth of the nation. So, why does the Industrial Revolution matter to us now if it happened so long ago? Well, let me just put it this way.
If it was not for the events that occurred back then, we may not be where we are today, individually and as a nation. So, to make my point, let’s suppose that you go home tonight and there is absolutely no light in your house whatsoever so you just have to sit in the dark. How would you feel? What about if there were no telephones around at all and you really needed to contact someone immediately? How would you feel? I feel like most of us today wouldn’t take either one of those too well. . Don’t believe me? Well just think about what it would be like if Thomas Edison had never invented the light bulb? Or If Alexander Graham Bell had never invented the telephone?
Those are just two basic examples of past Inventions that we use regularly with our actives lifestyles today that I chose to use as examples just to show stress the importance of the past and how it could affect us even in the future because I guarantee things would be very different today if they hadn’t ever invented those things.
The point that I am trying to make is, even though none of us in today’s society are not directly connected to the industrial revolution, it has had a lasting impact on all of us because we would not be who we are or have the all of the things that we do today if it wasn’t for the events that took place in our history. Obviously, if it wasn’t for the brilliant minds of those innovators that came before us, we would not have the technology or other modern advancements that we take for granted on a regular basis. The Industrial Revolution indirectly has a lasting effect on everyone.