APWH Ch. 24 Guiding Questions Key 1. What factors combined to cause the Industrial Revolution?
Industrialization is an enormous change in world history and therefore is caused by not one thing but a combination of forces. As the chapter states, the cause of the Industrial Revolution is one of the great questions of history. One force was population growth in Europe in the eighteenth century due to improved diet and greater control over disease. Second, the Agricultural Revolution is an important force with the enclosure of lands, new crops, and fertilizers. Third, is the growth of “cottage industries” as well as the scientific innovations and the improved transportation networks with construction of roads as well as canals and railroads. (In order to obtain full credit students need to provide specific examples where necessary)
2. Why did the Industrial Revolution take place first in Britain rather than in another country?
Although the British were innovative, they were no more innovative than some other nations; however, they made practical applications of those innovations much more quickly. Furthermore, they were the world’s leading exporters of tools, guns, hardware, and other craft goods. British engineers tried new approaches to problems. Britain also had many skilled refugees, who brought important skills with them. In addition, British society was a factor in promoting the Industrial Revolution. The British monarchy was less powerful and oppressive than those in other countries, and political power was less centralized. Because class lines were less sharply drawn, moving up through the classes was more feasible in England. British superiority in shipping and water transportation played a crucial part in the era before railroads, when land transportation was prohibitively expensive. Finally, British financial institutions were most aptly suited to the Industrial Revolution. Examples can be seen in the writings of Adam Smith, as well as in joint-stock companies and the insurance system.
3. What five revolutionary innovations made possible the Industrial Revolution? Give one example of each of these innovations, and describe how each was adapted.
The five innovations were (a) mass production through the division of labor; (b) new machines and mechanization; (c) an increase in the supply of iron; (d) the steam engine; and (e) the electric telegraph. Josiah Wedgwood and the porcelain industry were one example of applying mass production techniques originally developed by the Chinese. Wedgwood broke down the work into individual steps, maximizing the use of labor and other resources within each step. The cotton industry exemplified the role of machines in the Industrial Revolution. Machines such as the spinning jenny, the mule, and the power loom produced cotton textiles at lower costs. Watermills improved both production and quality. As for the enormous increase in iron production, it allowed great expansion and improvement of transportation through the building of bridges, railroads, and steamships. More iron also meant that more machinery could be built more cheaply, and larger factories were constructed to accommodate those machines. Iron production was boosted by the innovation in removing impurities from both iron and coal. Coke production allowed Britain to produce iron without depending on dwindling charcoal supplies, as other nations did. The most important innovation, however, was in energy. James Watt’s improvement of previous designs of the steam engine made available cheap and portable energy sources—and insufficient energy seemed to have been the only constraint on rampant industrialism. Power for pumping water from mines, operating mills, and driving ships and trains let the Industrial Revolution careen forward. The advent of railroads coincided with the development of the electric telegraph. After Alessandro Volta invented the battery in 1800, many inventors tried to apply electricity to communication. The first practical telegraphy systems were developed almost simultaneously in England and America. In England, Wheatstone and Cooke introduced a five-needle telegraph in 1837 that remained in use until the early 20th century. That same year, the American, Samuel Morse, introduced a code of dots and dashes that could be transmitted with a single wire. No longer were communications limited to the speed a ship could sail or a horse could gallop.
4. Describe the working conditions encountered by women and men during the Industrial Revolution.
The Industrial Revolution created both positive and negative effects for industrial workers. On the positive side, many new opportunities opened up for those with particular skills, such as machinists and metal workers. Wages for these specialties and others also increased. For other workers, the Industrial Revolution seemed like a nightmare. Most work was boring. Repetitive motions mandated by the mass-production system made workers feel disassociated from their work. Employers added new machines and ran them faster and longer. Health conditions deteriorated, causing infant mortality rates to soar and average life expectancies to plummet. Many factories sought women and children as laborers. National and international mass migrations of workers began, as workers moved from rural areas to industrializing cities. Industrial accidents were commonplace, and workers were allowed little say in controlling their workplace. The work day routinely lasted fourteen to sixteen hours.
5. What were some of the ideological responses to industrialization? Explain each of the responses you mention.
There were a broad range of responses, including laissez faire, utilitarianism, positivism, utopianism, Chartism, and workers’ protests. Laissez faire, literally a policy of “let them do,” was embodied in Adam Smith and his The Wealth of Nations. According to laissez faire, if individuals sought personal gain and advancement, the general welfare would improve as well. Government should protect private property, should not interfere in business or in the relations between workers and management, and should allow tax-free international trade. Utilitarianism was a theory propounded by Jeremy Bentham, who said that an enlightened Parliament could legislate improved social conditions to maximize “the greatest happiness of the greatest number.” The count of Saint-Simon espoused positivism, which argued that the poor should work in ideal communities, led by scientists and benevolent business leaders. Utopians wanted to create communal societies that would provide prosperity for all. The Utopians were unrealistic, but did have a lasting influence on late-nineteenth-century socialism. Chartists presented petitions to Parliament to improve working conditions and helped create a legacy of labor organizing. Workers themselves responded, sometimes in the extreme, with riots, strikes, boycotts, violent protests, and sabotage. However, workers often protested without violence—by unionizing, presenting demands in common, and petitioning factory owners and political representatives.
6. How did industrialization alter the relationship between Western Europe and the non-industrialized world? How is the Nemesis a symbol of these changes?
Industrialization transformed Western Europe’s relationship with the non-industrialized world profoundly. In the early modern era, Europe sought luxury goods from India and China such as silk, tea and cotton textiles but that as a result of industrialization Europe began to demand raw materials from Egypt, India and China instead. England began to build steam powered gunboats like the Nemesis which they used to penetrate China and humiliate the large Chinese military. This gave the West a distinct military advantage over China and showed the power of industry in spite of China’s size, history and population. In Egypt and India, industrialization was not delayed but rather stopped when it had hardly begun. Egypt developed a system of state capitalism, where the central government was the major benefactor. European advisers built factories, foundries, and shipyards. The aim was to lessen Egypt’s dependence on the Ottoman Empire, but instead it became more dependent on Great Britain. The British intentionally flooded Egypt with cheap manufactured imports to prevent Egypt from becoming powerful. India, once the world’s largest producer and exporter of cotton textiles, suffered from the domination of the British East India Company. For example, after the Industrial Revolution began in England, the BEIC flooded India with duty-free textiles. The former handcraft workers could find no employment, and most became landless peasants or emigrated overseas when slavery ended. Like other colonies, India became an exporter of raw material and an importer of manufactured goods. The British, however, controlled the Indian government and were more interested in encouraging British imports than in furthering Indian manufacturing.