During the 1700’s, people in Western countries began producing goods in a wholly new way. Inventors built remarkable machines. New forms of power, such as steam, replaced animal strength and human muscle. The factory system of making goods came into use. All of these advances affected patterns of living as well as working. Because society was so transformed, this time of great change is known as the Industrial Revolution.
Great Britain’s Advantages
The Industrial Revolution began in Great Britain in the mid-1700’s. Several factors made Britain ripe for industrial growth.
1.- Labor supply: Britain had a large number of able workers. This was because its birth rate was increasing and its death rate was declining. Also, many small farmers had been forced to leave their lands and were looking for work.
2.- Natural resources: Britain was rich in coal and iron ore. From its colonies Britain imported other resources, particularly cotton, to use in making textiles.
3.-Investment capital: Britain had capital-money and goods- ready to invest in new industries. The money came from wealthy landowners and from merchants who had grown rich through trade.
4.-Entrepreneurs: Britain was home to energetic and daring entrepreneurs people who organized and managed businesses. The opportunity to make great profits spurred these entrepreneurs to build factories, work out efficient ways of producing goods, and search for new markets.
5.- Transportation: As an island nation, Britain had many fine harbors as well as an extensive canal system. It was much cheaper to transport heavy goods by water than by land. The nation’s large fleet of merchant ships made it easy to carry raw materials to factories and goods to markets. Britain also had a strong navy that could protect its merchant fleet.
6.- Markets: Britain and its colonies overseas provided a good, market for the sale of manufactured goods. As businesses expanded and new jobs were created, more people had money to spend on factory-made products.
7.-Government support: The British government did much to boost the entrepreneurial spirit. It passed laws that protected businesses and helped them to expand.
The Agricultural Revolution
New farming methods: A revolution in agriculture had paved the way for the Industrial Revolution. New farming methods resulted in better harvests, and Britain found it easier to feed its growing population. Money that had once been used to import supplies of good could instead flow into British industries.
The agricultural revolution began about 1701, when Jethro Tull invented a mechanical drill for planting. The drill made straight rows of holes in the soil and dropped seeds into them. This was a great improvement over the old method of scattering seeds by hand. Tull also invented a horse-drawn hoe, which broke up and loosened the soil so that plants could grow better.
In the early 1700’sCharles Townshend experimented with mixing lime and clay into the soil. This practice helped keep the soil fertile. Townshend also taught farmers to grow turnips, which could be stored to fee livestock during the winter. Before this time, farmers slaughtered much of their livestock in the fall, because there was not enough food to keep the animals alive through the winter.
The enclosure movement: The new farming methods spread slowly at first. Most small farmers had neither the money nor the desire to experiment with them. As time went on, however, wealthy landowners tried the new methods and had great success. They began buying out small farmers, who found it hard to compete. The landowners also began enclosing or fencing in, public lands that villagers had once shared with each other. After 1760, Parliament encouraged the enclosure movement, as it was called.
As estates grew larger, farm production soared. Poor villagers, however, who had depended upon village lands for raising crops and livestock, lost their means of making a living. Forced out of their cottages, they became beggars or farm hands. Many flocked to the growing cities in search of work.
Revolution in the Textile Industry
New inventions: Textile-making was the first British industry to be drastically changed by the Industrial Revolution. Until the 1700’s, merchants bought wool or cotton for workers to spin into yarn to thread and then weave into cloth. Since the workers did their work in their homes, this method of production was called the domestic system, or cottage industry.
In the eighteenth century a number of inventions helped workers make textiles faster. In 1733 John Kay invented a flying shuttle that speeded up the weaving of cloth. James Hargreaves’s spinning jenny, perfected in the 1760’s, made it possible for spinners to turn out thread more quickly.
Both the flying shuttle and the spinning jenny had to be run by hand. Soon, however, inventors found ways to use water power to run textile machines. Richard Arkwright’s water frame, invented in 1769, used water power to run a spinning machine. In 1785 Edmund Cartwright invented a loom that was run by water power.
The new textile machines could turn out such quantities of thread and cloth that manufacturers now needed more raw materials than ever. Cotton fiber was most in demand. In 1793 an American named Eli Whitney found a way to help. He invented a device called the cotton gin, which mechanically tore the fibers from the seeds. Cotton production shot up and by 1820 cotton cloth accounted for almost half of Britain’s expo
The factory system: The new machines not only speeded up the output of thread and cloth but also changed the basic system of production. The machines were too expensive to be owned by individual workers and too large to be set up in farmhouses and cottages, also, they had to be run by water power.
For these reasons, the factory system developed. Factories were built near rivers that could supply water power to run the machines. Large numbers of workers were brought together under one roof. Managers began to use division of labor, having workers perform only one task in making a product. All these changes allowed the factory system to produce goods more quickly, efficiently, and cheaply than was possible using the domestic system.
New Iron-Making Processes
As more machines were used in factories, more iron was needed to build them. In the early 1700’s, however, the British ironmarking industry faced serious problems. The iron ore in Britain had imputies that spoiled the quality of the finished product. The iron was brittle and thus hard to shape .
New methods of production soon revolutionized the iron industry. A breakthrough came in the 1780’s when Henry Cort patented a padding furnace. Iron was reheated in the furnace until the impurities were burned away. The iron was then passed through rollers from sheets . Cort’s process produced iron of better quality and was 15 times faster than the old system.
In the 1850’s industry made another leap forward . Working independently , both William Kelly , an American inventor , and Sir Henry Bessemer , an English engineer , discovered what came to be called Bessemer process. This was a quick and cheap method of marking steel from iron . Because steel is more durable than iron ,. It was soon used in most heavy equipment .
The miraculous Steam Engine
James Watt’s Improvement: As the Industrial Revolution gained speed, inventors looked for new
sources of power. In 1769 James Watt, a Scottish engineer, developed a practical steam engine that burned coal. Steam had been used as a source of power since the early 1700´s, but Watt´s engine wasthe first to use steam efficiently.
In time, all industries came to depend on steam engines.Steam power replaced water power in coal mines, ironworks, and textile plants. Watt´s engine was one of the most important technological breackthrouugs of the Industrial Revolution.
Effect on the transportation industry: In the early 1800´s inventors raced to find a way of using steam power for land transportation. George Stephenson, an English engineer, was the first to develop a practical locomotive. In 1830 Stephenson´s Rocket sped over a railway line connecting the english English cities of Manshester and Liverpool. The rocket zoomed along at 16 miles per houran astonishing speed for the times.
Stephenson´s succes tiggered an age of railway-building all over the world. Railways provided a fast, cheap means of carrying raw materials to factories and shipping manufactured goods to market. As transportation costs fell, manufacturers were able to lower the prices of their goods. This allowed more people to buy them.
Discoveries in Electricity
Technology in the nineteenth century moved from triumph to triumph. Many advances came from the findings of scientists working in researching laboratories. One area of widespread scientific interest was the mysterious force called electricity.
About 1800 Alessandro Volta, an Italian professor of physics, invented the first electric battery. This enabled scientist to make electricity and study it in laboratories. In 1831 Michael Faraday, and English physicist and chemist, produced electricity by moving a magnet through a coil of copper wire. Faraday`s discovery led to the invention of the electric generator, which produced a current that could run machines. The generator allowed factories to use electricity as a source of power.
Effects of Industrialization
In the early years of the Industrial Revolution, Great Britain had tried to keep other countries from learning about its new technology. This effort failed. The Industrial Revolution soon spread throughout the West.
Advances in technology, combined with a boom in the production of coal and iron ore, spurred industrial growth in the United States and Germany. In both countries a rapid rise in population meant that the work force was growing all the time. Expanding industries found plenty of workers to take new jobs. By the late 1800`s the United States and Germany had joined Great Britain as the world`s industrial leaders.
The Industrial Revolution transformed Western Society forever. It created new job opportunities for more and more people. It also helped raise the standard of living –a general measure of quality of life. It the early years, however, rapid industrialization caused severe problems. These were most serious for workers in the new factories and for the growing numbers of poor city dwellers.
Hardships for factory workers: The factory system produced goods efficiently, but workers led hard lives. Wages were generally low, and employment was never secure. During business slumps, employers lowered wages and laid off workers. Sick workers received no pay and were ofthen fired. Elderly workers faced cuts in pay and loss of job. Women earned less than men, and children had the lowest wages of all.
Many parents, needing every bit of income possible, had no choice but to put their children to work. No laws restricted child labor and factories hired children as young as six. Children also toiled in mines, crawling through narrow tunnels to haul heavy loads of coal. Some supervisors beat child workers to keep them awake and alert.
Because many factory owners did not consider safety a important concern, accidents were common. Workers sometimes lost fingers or suffered other injuries because of unsafe machines. Poor lighting, dirt, high noise levels, and smoke and fumes caused other health risks.
Factory work was often dull and repetitive. Works might perform the same task over and over, up to 14 hours a day. The clock, the machine, and the production schedule ruled life on the job. If workers failed to keep up, they were fined or fired.
Grim life in cities: The Industrial Revolution led to rapid urbanization- growth of cities. Farm families that could no longer make a living in the countryside moved to the city to find jobs, others left rural areas in search of higher pay and the excitement of city life. Between 1801 and 1851, for example, the population of the English city of Birmingham grew from 73,000 to 250,000. Liverpool, England, soared from 77,000 to 400,000.
Nineteenth-century cities were not prepared for such a population explosion. Housing, sanitation, and hospital facilities could not keep pace with the growing numbers of people. The crime rate was high, police forces were small, and there was little fire protection. The poor lived in crowded, ramshackle houses. Sometimes a whole family huddled together in one room or even shared a room with another family. Many people had no homes and lives in the streets. Open sewers, polluted rivers, factory smoke, and filthy streets allowed disease to spread. In Britain, about 26 out of every 100 children died before the age of five.
Changing values: In preindustrial England, most people had lived in small villages and farmed the land worked by their families for years. Relatives, friends, and the village church gave them a sense of belonging. This feeling began to disappear as people left their hometowns to move to cities.
The factory system, with its long hours and irregular work schedules, weakened family life. Children and parents often worked in different parts of a factory and on different shifts. Parents thus found in hard to supervise their children. Runaways and abandoned youngsters wandered the streets to every city in Britain. Church attendance dropped in urban areas. To escape from their dreary lives, many men and women turned to alcohol.
The status of older people also changed. In rural areas, older people had much to offer the community. They taught young people about nature and farming; they showed them how to build and repair. In the industrial cities, older people lost some to the authority and respect they had enjoyed. Their experience simply did not apply to city life.
Benefits of industrialization: While the Industrial Revolution disrupted the lives of many people, it also created new opportunities. Factory-made goods were plentiful and priced within the reach of most people. The growing cities offered many chances for advancement, and workers who acquired special skills and education had hopes of entering the growing middle class.