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Industrial Revolution The European scene at the beginning of the eighteenth century is much different than it is today. Densely populated cities in countries such as England and France were merely farm towns two hundred years ago. What caused what used to be cultivated open fields to turn into populous towns? These questions can all be answered and explained by the Industrial Revolution.
The word revolution implies a suddenness of change that is not, in fact, characteristic of economic processes. But the phrase Industrial Revolution has long been used by historians and has become embedded in common speech (Ashton 2). A revolution implied by historians is just a change of the old way, not necessarily a fast change, or a violent overthrow. England's Industrial Revolution does not have set dates. It is said that England's Industrial Revolution began around 1780 with Britains prosperous colonies and expanding Atlantic economy. Some critics claim that there wasnt an industrial revolution, and some challenge the naming of the period.
In Phyllis Deane's book, The First Industrial Revolution, she outlines three main points in which an economy which experienced an industrial revolution differs from its pre-industrialized counterpart. This essay will use Deane's three main points and prove that there was a revolution and the timing and naming are all appropriate. In Deane's book, the first point is industrial and social structure. In spite of the urban development associated with commerce and industry, the population of Europe was still predominantly rural in 1750. Agriculture was the chief occupation of the overwhelming majority of the people. Each family raised their own food and the materials for their clothing, such as wool, linen, and leather, and secured materials for building, furniture, and fuel from the communal waste or forest (Dietz 12).
By 1850, Britain was certainly industrialized in that more of the people were engaged in manufacturing industry than agriculture (Deane 255). One major point that allowed Britain to become industrial was the increasing number of workers and population of England. The rate of growth of population, of course, depends basically on the rate of natural increase, that is, on the difference between birth rates and death rates; and there are certain biological and physical limits to the extent to which these are likely to vary (Deane 20). The rate of growth in England before the revolution was so slow, that an English statistician at the beginning of the eighteenth century estimated that the number of people would not reach the population of eleven million until the year 2300 (Dietz 3). Since 1780, the growth England substantially increased.
England went up by 52 percent to over nine million inhabitants from 1750 to 1801 and reached thirty-six million in 1910 (Dietz 15). The invention of the steam engine was the Industrial Revolutions most fundamental advance in technology. For the first time in history, humanity had unlimited power at its disposal. Inventors and engineers could devise and implement all kinds of power equipment to aid people in their work (McKay 730). The steam engine promoted important breakthroughs in other industries. The steam-power began to replace waterpower in the cotton-spinning mills.
The economic consequence of these technical innovations was a great boom in the British iron industry. Iron production nearly tripled between 1740 and 1788. Inventions and surplus of supply allowed England to become industrialized. In one industry, the invention of the spinning jenny allowed cotton to be produced faster and cheaper for both consumers and producers. The spinning jenny which was invented in 1771 by James Hargreaves revolutionized the making of yarn and the weaving of cloth. The spinning wheel allowed producers to build the first large scale factories.
The other industry that was revolutionized was the iron industry. Whereas the cotton industry achieved its spectacular economies largely by saving labor, the iron industry did so by using materials that were abundant and cheap in place of materials that were scarce and dear (Deane 101). It provided cheaply and abundantly the commodity on which, more than on any other single material except coal, modern industry was to depend for its essential equipment. Industry supply was kept abreast of demand by a remarkable series of technical improvements in manufacturing processes, and by fundamental changes in types of industrial organization, such as those in the cotton and iron trade (Dietz 57). Even in the early twentieth centuries, underdeveloped countries seeking a means of escape from economic stagnation are inclined to see the establishment of a steel industry as a first step (Deane 114). The second major step in an industrial revolution is the increase in standards of living and productivity.
In industries like transport, textiles and iron manufacture, output per worker increased beyond all previous experience, though wages per worker rose quite modestly, and prices, particularly the prices of exports, fell steeply (Deane 266). During this time there was the first law that regulated the number of hours that a person can work. The Ten Hours Act of 1847 had made the first real impact on hours of work in the textile factories, where the normal working day lasted from 12 - 12. 5 hours even in the best-regulated factories in the 1820 s and 1830 s. The 1850 Factory Act introduced a 60 -hour legal week for women in the textile trades; and it was the beginning of the English week-end for it ordered a stoppage of work on Saturdays at 2 p. m. Compared with what it had been a century before then, the standard of living of the British people in 1850 was higher on the average and a great deal more varied.
Compared with their contemporaries in other countries, the British people enjoyed a richer and more varied standard of living as a result of industrialization. Estimates of average national income per head suggest that they were then the most affluent people in the world (Deane 269). Rates of growth are the final signs that a country underwent an industrial revolution. Population, national output and incomes per head were all growing faster than they had done in the pre-industrial era and they were growing continuously. For industrial production the peak rate of growth was reached in the 1920 s and the 1830 s. For exports the peak rate came in the period 1846 - 1856, when the volume of British domestic exports more than doubled in less than a decade (Deane 270).
Deane explains that there are three main factors on which the rate of growth of an economy depends: the rate of growth of the labor force, the rate of capital accumulation and rate of technological change. The British economy seems to have developed relatively slowly by comparison with the later countries to industrialize (Deane 272). Britain couldnt have supported an industrial revolution without the help of the railroads. In 1830 England had approximately twenty thousand miles of turnpike roads. There were also 4670 miles of canals and improved rivers (Dietz 42).
The decade after 1830 witnessed the building of many short stretches of important lines, and by 1840 nearly eight hundred miles of railroad had been built in England. A veritable railroad mania swept the country; by 1850 over six thousand miles were built in Great Britain and, by 1879, fifteen thousand miles (Dietz 45). Concurrently with the railroad construction a network of telegraph wires spread over Europe, to bring people into still more immediate touch, and to make of Europe, and then the world, a single market (Dietz 47). In 1843 the first electric telegraph line in England was opened between Paddington and Slough; in 1851 a submarine cable was laid between England and France; and in 1866, after several earlier attempts had failed, Cyrus Field laid the first transatlantic cable (Dietz 47). Britains colonial empire allowed the country to make a revolution toward mass production and quantities. Britain controlled much of the sugar islands of the West Indies.
Britain also drove the French from the fur-bearing area of America and strengthened her hold on the Newfoundland fishing banks. England thus was in a position to experience the most effective reactions from colonial trade and supplies, and presently certain industries found themselves unable to meet the demands for goods made upon them unless fundamental changes in organization and technique were made (Dietz 24). The chief contribution of the banks to the industrial revolution consisted in the mobilizing of short-term funds and their transfer from areas where there was little demand for them to others that were hungry for capital. It meant that in effect that rural England was providing foodstuffs for the growing urban communities without requiring an immediate return. Industrial was then able to use its own resources to put up factories and construct canals and railways which benefited manufacturing and agricultural areas alike (Ashton 106). There were other institutions that helped distribute capital, such as the Stock Exchange.
In 1773 the Stock Exchange obtained premises of its own, which included public utility and insurance companies, which was a powerful instrument for assembling the savings of the middle classes (Ashton 107). It is generally agreed, then, that Britain had been through an industrial revolution by the middle of the nineteenth century, though the revolution had by no means worked itself out. This essay listed three points that show that Britains industry had differed 150 years prior to its pre-industrial counterpart. The three parts are industrial and social structure, productivity and an increase in the standards of living associated with higher productivity, and in its rates of economic growth.
The British government, along with the banks, helped the revolution take place. This essay also looked at the importance of inventions and innovations that allowed and propelled Britains industrial revolution. Without the invention of the steam engine, or the increase production allowed by the spinning wheel, the Industrial Revolution could not have taken place. Building on technical breakthroughs, power-driven equipment, and large-scale enterprise, the Industrial Revolution in England greatly increased output in certain radically altered industries, stimulated the large handicraft and commercial sectors, and speeded up overall economic growth.
Bibliography: Ashton, T. S. The Industrial Revolution. London: Oxford University Press, 1948. Deane, Phyllis. The First Industrial Revolution.
London: Cambridge University Press, 1965. Dietz, Frederick Charles. The Industrial Revolution. New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1927.
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