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Since the dawn of creation all goods were constructed by hand. It was a drastic shift from simple hand tools to power machinery that changed the world forever. This radical change came to be known as the Industrial Revolution for it had an astounding affect on the economic, political, and social spheres of the nineteenth century. Before the eighteenth century England was primarily an agrarian society.
Though some were wealthy landholders, the majority of Englishmen were impoverished. For the most part life revolved around the agricultural process of planting, cultivating, harvesting, and processing the harvest. Despite the inherent difficulties of this lifestyle, this routine seldom changed between generations and provided a sense of stability. Once the Enclosure Act was passed the small landowners were forced to give up their land. With Enclosure, all land owners had to pay a flat tax on their land and were required to have their land fenced and surveyed. Since only large landowners were able to afford the expenses most of the people migrated to the cities were the conditions were disastrous.
Before the Industrial Revolution, rural workers constantly lived with the fear of crop failure. If there was a food shortage, they were the first to suffer and in famine they were the first to die (Tierney 197). Yet, death from starvation was uncommon. Instead malnutrition imposed from a balanced diet was widespread. This of course led to the inability of peasants to fight diseases, and thus epidemics ensued. The Industrial Revolution was the mediator of the problems in the cities.
At the start of the revolutions, 1790 to 1815, prices and especially wages grew steeply. Due to the Seven Years War with France the prices steadily rose, but to counter it the wages also rose. After the war with France ended, the prices went back down very sharply while the wages seemingly remained constant. But before the end of the war (as Professor Silberling has shown) industrial wages in England caught up with retail prices, and in the twenties the gain was pronounced (254). For the bulk of the Industrial Revolution, wages were higher than the prices. Higher wages left the poor-rate is very decidedly lower in the manufacturing than in the agricultural districts (244).
It seems that it was better to work in factories rather than in the country and live as a peasant. The increase in wages led to higher standard of living for the rural workers. The increase in wages allowed people to accumulate money and spent the money on other things other than necessities. Even though money people spent their money on necessities, the necessities were cheaper due to the revolution. The Industrial Revolution brought along a rise in general commodities.
the return cargoes did not consist, in the main, of wines and silks, but of sugar, grain, coffee, and tea for the people at large (254). These new imports led to lower prices in all sorts of necessities, from food, shelter, and clothing. The textile industry was able to produce cheaper clothing for the working class of the nation. Not only was it cheaper but it was easier to clean and lasted longer. Since there was more money left over the rural workers were now able to afford meat and other healthy items, which led to a longer life. As people were becoming rich from these business ventures, the average life span increased as a result of mans reliance on machines.
Reduced manorial labor through machinery that performed miracles of strength, speed, and precision accounted for the improved lifestyle. Eventually, the higher wages led to a longer, happier life and a higher standard of living. It is obvious that over the course of the Industrial Revolution, death rates in England decreased which in turn caused a population increase. Even though, the mortality rate is still greater in the cities rather than in the country, there is now only a slight difference between them. There is the best reason to believe that the annual mortality of Manchester, about the middle of the last century, was one in twenty-eight. It is now reckoned at forty-five (245).
Due to the increase in life expectancy, at about double the amount, more people were able to enjoy life. It could be said that people live longer because they are better fed, better lodged, better clothed, and better attended in sickness, and that these improvements are owing to that increase of national wealth which the manufacturing system has produced (245). With out the Industrial Revolution most of the people would die at an early age and progress would have slowed down. The decrease in mortality rates point to an increase in the living standards in the general population.
Many would argue that revolution was a curse due to the treatment of children during the time, but this was just a scapegoat. The children of the poor were regarded as workers long before the Industrial Revolution (245). The poor treatment of children did not get any worse than it was in the eighteenth century. The Industrial Revolution just caused the situation of the children to be noticeable.
Before the revolution the ill-treatment of children was spread all over the world, but the revolution caused people to examine the situation. With out the Industrial Revolution there may still be the poor treatment of kids. The revolution allowed the improvement in child labor laws. For example, the Factory Act of 1833 outlawed the employment of children under 9 in textile mills, it also put a limit of hours worked for age groups. Other similar laws were also passed, like the Mines Act, which prohibited boys under 10 and all girls from working underground, and the Ten Hours Act, forbade all females and males under 18 to 10 hours a day. The conditions in the factories were not great but not extremely bad.
the medical gentleman who attends our people, that in the course of his practice, he finds less disease existing with the people employed in the works, than in the general population of the surrounding country (236). This showed that the children were better off in the workhouses than in the country. Overall, the Industrial Revolution was a blessing in its own way. The Enclosure Act led to the Industrial Revolution. The rural workers situation was so bad before the revolution. There was fear of death, either by starvation or disease.
As soon as the revolution came that fear disappeared. The common man was now getting higher wages, which in turn led to a higher living standard. The wages also allowed for a healthier diet and life, which caused the mortality rate to decrease and life expectancy to increase. The biggest argument against the Industrial Revolution is the treatment of children at the time. This situation can not be blamed on the revolution since the situation was always there but never realized. The Industrial Revolution caused many changes, not for the worse but for the better.
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