Vocabulary: Industrial Revolution, seed drill, cottage industry, factories, spinning wheels, spinning jenny, spinning mule, power loom, cotton gin, steam engine, reaper, steamboat, canals, working class, standard of living, wages, working condition, cotton mills, labor unions, strike, immigrants
Most people today buy clothes that are made by machines. However, about 1750, people began to invent new machines to help them make clothes. These machines could do the work that people had always done by hand. This was the beginning of the Industrial Revolution which was not a war, but a change in the way goods were made.
The Industrial Revolution began with another revolution. This revolution was an agricultural revolution. During the Stone Age, people learned to plant seeds to grow food. They no longer had to move from place to place to place to hunt animals. The first agricultural revolution changed the way of life for the Stone Age people. For thousands of years, farmers did most of their work by hand, by planting seeds by throwing them on top of the ground. The wind blew away most of the seeds. Most of the seeds didn’t grow which made it very difficult for the farmers to grow enough food.
The Industrial Revolution began in Great Britain. There were five major reasons the Industrial Revolution started there. First, Great Britain had a large population. An expanding population that increased with the labor supply and the demand for more production was part of this reason. Clothing had been made in what was called the cottage industry. Products would be made in homes and then sold by pieces to individuals or business owners.. A social structure allowed and even encouraged people of different classes to work together, especially artisans, who worked with their hands, working with financiers, provided capital. As factories grew, the cottage industry died out and the factories were built in cities, especially near waterways. So, people moved from the rural areas into cities for work in the factories.
Secondly, Great Britain had many natural resources. Great Britain had a lot of iron, coal, rivers, and steams. Iron was needed to make machines. Rivers and streams were needed to provide water power to run the machines and to move the final products to market. Sheep were plentiful in Great Britain for wool cloth. And they got a lot of cotton from the Colonies. The discovery of massive deposits of gold and silver in the New World also increased capital and accumulation.
Thirdly, there was no war on Great Britain soil and years of peace gave people more time and money to invent new machines. Many people were interested in science and inventions. This helped with the process of the revolution.
A fourth reason that the revolution began in Great Britain was the banking system was so much more developed. The banking system helped people have more money. Rich merchants used their money to buy machines, build factories, and build large ships to take goods to far-off places. Not only the availability of money but slave labor in plantation economies brought more than a century of exceptional capital accumulation.
Great Britain was in a good location geographically for the fifth reason. Goods could move to and from many other lands easily by sea. Also, Great Britain had many harbors that ships could carry goods to other countries for trade.
The cloth industry was the first business to change because people all over the world wanted to buy more wool and cotton cloth. Workers who made cloth at home could not make enough cloth with the spinning wheel. The spinning wheel could only spin one thread at a time. About 1764 a machine call the spinning jenny was invented. It was a machine that could spin up to eight threads at one time and the worker turned the wheel by hand. By 1779 the spinning mule was invented that was powered by water to turn the wheel. This was much better than the jenny because it could spin much more thread more quickly.
People made cloth by weaving many threads together on a loom. For thousands of years, weaving had been done by hand. In 1785 a machine called power loom was invented in Great Britain. It used water power to weave cloth. People could now make a lot of cloth quickly. Now, people began to need more natural resources such as cotton. And for the first time, farmers could not grow enough cotton.
In the United States, large cotton crops were grown. Seeds had to be pulled out of the cotton plant to so the cotton could be used to make cloth. This was slow work. In 1793, an American name Eli Whitney invented a machine called the cotton gin. The cotton gin quickly pulled the seeds from the cotton. One gin could do the work of fifty people.
The Industrial Revolution changed the ways people lived and worked. For hundreds of years, most families had worked together at home. The new spinning and weaving machines were too big to be used at home. Merchants built factories that needed water power that had to be built near water.
People learned they could burn coal to make hot water for steam power. In 1769, James Watt built a good steam engine. The steam engines were being used to run machines in factories instead of water power. Now factories could be built farther away from water sources. A steam engine could be built to be used anywhere.
As time passed, more and more people left farms to work in factories that were located in cities. More people moved to the cities to find jobs in factories. Cities grew larger and more changes took place.
Transportation evolved with the need to move products from the factories into the center of the United States or even across the continent. The locomotive was strong enough to pull other train cars. They moved faster than horses and cost less money to send goods on trains that on carts pulled by horses. The railroad helped other industries grow.
People wanted to travel faster by ships. For hundreds of yers, people had traveled by ships with sails. Wind blew these ships across the seas. In 1807 a steamboat was invented. The steamboat had a steam engine that moved the ship. People on longer had to wait for wind to move their ships.
As people invented better ways to travel, they began to find other ways to help them travel more quickly. They began to build better roads. They also built canals. Canals are water routes that connect rivers, lakes, and oceans. By using canals, merchants no longer had to move their goods from a ship, then across land, and then to another ship. One important canal is the Suez Canal, which was built in 1869. This canal connects the Mediterranean Sea with the Red Sea near Egypt.
Many other inventions helped with the development of the Industrial Revolution, such as strong metal for machines, factories and railroads. Iron was made very clean and very hot. Then some materials were added to change it into steel. Steel lasts longer. In 1870 Elijah McCoy invented a way to help trains and other machines run better. In the past, people had to stop their machines to oil them. McCoy invented a better way for people to oil machines without having to turn them off.
For hundreds of years, people had used candles to light their homes. In 1870 and American named Thomas Edison invented the electric light bulb. Soon electric light bulbs were being used in homes and in factories. Electricity would become a very important part of other inventions.
During the Industrial Revolution, two different groups of people became very important. These were the working class and the middle class. The working class worked in mines and factories and grew as factories became more numerous. The middle class included factory owners and merchants. The middle class became very large and powerful. Because of the improved conditions of life, many people earned more money. They were able to buy things they needed or wanted and travel more easily but caused more problems.
Some of the ways this revolution continues to impact life was that factories were built very quickly and were not safe place to work. Cities grew too quickly and were not well planned. Factories and other buildings were built too close together. Cities were crowded, disease and fires spread very quickly. Factories caused pollution. Children were working long hours in unsafe conditions. Sometimes there wasn’t enough work in the factories, some lost their jobs. More people came to the United States (immigrants) to find a better life. They took jobs that Americans thought were theirs.