The Industrial Revolution



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The Industrial Revolution

I.   The Industrial Revolution



  • Introduction

    • The term industrial revolution is somewhat misleading

      • It is really as much an evolution as it is revolution

        • When looking at the short term, one could call the changes brought about the industrial evolution, because they happened gradually over 60-70 year period

        • But in the long-term picture, this change comes quickly--so it could be the industrial revolution

    • Better yet, think of it as an industrial chain reaction, where one invention affects an industry in ways that cannot be foreseen and which produces new inventions to come.

  • Roots of the Revolution

    • Great Britain

      • The classic industrial revolution story is the textile industry in England which industrialized between 1760 and 1815

      • England benefited from the vast market system she had built up through her highly developed colonial system

        • Surplus capital from her trade with the Americas and the Orient were plowed into industry

        • Moreover, war had not been fought on English soil during her struggle with France; indeed, the whole idea of her navy was to engage the enemy before he could damage the homeland

      • England was well off financially as well, with private property being secure here, unlike in Russia, where the tzar frequently just seized profitable enterprises

      • British society was relatively mobile and innovative; persons with money could rise socially and frequently found themselves sitting in Parliament

      • Britain had also been in the forefront of developing internal improvements

        • canals,

        • turnpikes and paved roads

        • and eventually railroads

      • British fleet

        • The British navy was large and so was her merchant fleet

        • no part of the island was very far from the sea

        • Water transport was still the safest and cheapest way to transport the bulky goods of the early industrial revolution

      • Simple production for a big profit

        • Perhaps most important, Britain mass produced simple, common items

        • items such as buttons, cloth and iron pots

        • in such industries, one settles for a smaller profit margin per item, but makes a good profit by selling large amounts

        • By contrast, France had always specialized in luxury items, like silk cloth, perfumes, and fancy dress

    • Switching from the Domestic System to factories

      • The industrial revolution slowly replaced the cottage system, sometimes called the domestic system, which had developed serious defects by the mid-18th century

        • There was a serious imbalance in a family enterprise, with four to five spinners having to work constantly to keep one weaver consistently employed

        • Relations between workers and employers were not always harmonious either

          • with employers claiming that workers were diverting some of the raw cotton or wool to their own use or delivering a sub-standard product

          • while workers insisted they had been given poor quality cotton or wool to work with and impossible time lines to meet

        • People tended to work in spurts in the cottage system which meant that employers could not count on having the right amount of cloth to fill an order on time

        • People were paid on Saturday, and sometimes drank steadily to Monday, which got the name Holy Monday or Saint Monday because, like Sunday was supposed to be, no work was done.

      • Putting production under one roof

        • One solution for these difficulties would be to put all the operations under one roof

          • this ensured nothing was diverted for personal use and allowed owners to monitor all stages of the production of cloth

          • Thus the factory was born

        • Soon, however, factories began using new machinery to speed up the process

          • In 1765, for example, the spinning jenny was invented

            • when producing under the domestic system, one person would spin thread on one spindle

            • the spinning jenny began by producing 16 spindles of thread, and soon mushroomed to 120 spindles

          • Now thread production was not the problem, but rather the slow rate of weaving on a hand loom

            • Thus, the power loom was invented to get rid of the bottleneck in the cloth production process, and to guarantee uniform woven cloth

          • Using the spinning jenny, cotton production increased 800% between 1780 and 1800

        • Impact of the new machinery

          • But the expensive machinery used in factories led to a greater concentration of wealth, since the start-up costs of such a factory operation were beyond the means of most workers

          • As in any industrial revolution, the 18th century textile revolution saw an increasing gap develop between the haves, who owned the factories and machinery, and the have-nots, who worked in them

      • Need for new system of supply for new mills

        • traditional sources of cotton

          • One major bottleneck was the poor supply of cotton

          • In the 18th century, most cotton came from India which, like Egypt, produced long staple cotton which was easy to gin, that is to remove the seeds

            • The United States did not have a long enough growing season or moderate enough weather to grow long staple cotton in large quantities

        • the United States

          • All that changed when Eli Whitney invented the cotton gin in the 1790s, which allowed short-staple cotton to be ginned easily

          • Whitney's cotton gin revitalized the cotton industry of the United States, and in the process revitalized slavery which had been on the wane

          • Cotton became king in the ante-bellum South only in the 19th century

          • over 75% of the cotton grown in the South went to British mills

      • New sources of power

        • To make the new machines go, new machines were required

          • The most important was surely the steam engine, invented in 1785

          • It ran on coal and created an symbiotic relationship with coal

          • Coal was dug out of deep mines in England, so deep they were below the water table

            • A constant danger was that water would deluge the mine shafts

            • Indeed, the single most common cause of death among miners was drowning

          • Steam engines ran the pumps which removed the water, while the coal mined was used to feed the steam engines and the growing factory system of England

        • Problems with steam power

          • The problem was that coal polluted in a way that water power did not

          • The United States favored water power until well into the 19th century, partly because it was cheap and plentiful, partly to avoid pollution, but mainly because the U.S. had not located major supplies of coal

          • Water power, however, ceased in the winter when lakes and streams froze and in summertime droughts--these prevented the steady flow of water which ran the water wheels

          • Thus, when British citizens marveled at the cleanliness of factories in Lowell, Mass, they were really commenting upon the difference between clean water power and dirty coal--all that would change by the late 1830s however

  • Supporting the Industrial Revolution

    • New support systems in the factories

      • The new industrial revolution called forth new support systems to maximize profit

      • The steel used for machines like the steam engine was so expensive, the use of steam was retarded, until the Bessemer process halved the price of steel by 1850

    • Changes in Transportation

      • More important was the need for improvements in transportation which would create a real national market which would in turn call forth mass production

        • There would be no need to produce vast quantities of any item if it could not be sold except in the immediate area

        • Only when a true mass market existed, where businessmen could sell throughout England and overseas, would entrepreneurs really engage in mass production, producing huge amounts of any item, to serve the mass market created by improvements in transportation.

      • Water transport

        • The most important method of moving goods in the period was water transport, because it was cheaper and easier to float something bulky than it was to drag it over virtually nonexistent roads

        • Canals

          • There was therefore a boom in canal building such as the Erie canal in 1825, in upstate New York, which proved how lucrative such internal improvements could be

          • For Europe, the most important canal was the Suez canal built in 1869, which provided a direct link to the British holdings in India and the Far East

        • From sail to steam

          • However, the Suez canal meant the end of sailing ships which could not negotiate the canal under their own power as a steamship could, but instead had to be dragged from the shore

          • As a result, the clipper ship gave way to the first steamboats

            • The first trans-Atlantic steam run was in 1838

            • Americans sneered at the ungainly steamboats, preferring the beautiful lines of the clipper ships, but the clippers were the end of the line as far as sailing ships went, since they carried as much sail as could be put on a ship without turning it upside down

            • The ugly duckling steam boats, with their screw propellers, were in fact the wave of the future, for once the technology of building and maintaining them was understood, the only question was how big they would become

          • This would not be the last time the United States put its money into an aging technology instead of trying something new

      • Railroads

        • The most important transportation development may have been the railroads which could operate 365 days out of the year, in all types of weather, and could be put wherever they were needed, rather than having to depend on streams or rivers which might be in the wrong place

        • Again, England took the lead in producing railroad track, criss-crossing the country with a rail line that remains even to this day the model for others to follow

    • Agriculture during the Industrial Revolution

      • Agriculture too benefited from the industrial revolution

        • The reaper thresher was invented which could reap as much in a day as 40 men

        • The steel-tipped plow was able to turn over even the unpromising soil of northern Europe and the American plains, thus aerating it and increasing its productivity

      • Improvements in canning and refrigeration helped preserve food to allow a more balanced diet year round

      • All these inventions had the effect of freeing up labor for industry, since more food could be grown by fewer people

  • The Industrial Revolution on the continent

    • The continent was slow to begin an industrial revolution

      • Reasons for slowness

        • Transportation

          • The continent lacked transport as advanced as Britain's

          • France had poor roads, for example, and seaports were farther away from the interior

        • Taxation

          • Moreover, internal tolls and tariffs discouraged transportation over large distances

        • Raw materials and markets

          • The continent also had fewer raw materials, especially coal, and especially in eastern Europe which was effectively landlocked

          • no merchant marine or navy to get raw materials from overseas or ship produced goods out

        • Investments

        • Finally, the wars associated with the French revolution had consumed time, money and manpower which these countries did not have to give to industry

      • Once the wars were over, however, the continent quickly picked up the pace of industrialization

      • But on the continent, the government played a much larger role in stimulating industry than was the case in Britain, especially in the case of heavy industry, utilities, and transportation.

  • Immediate consequences of the Industrial Revolution

    • There were many consequences to the industrial revolution, but we should look at some of the less obvious ones.

      • Increased use of cotton

        • Cotton cloth became much cheaper, with prices dropping 85% between 1780 and 1850

        • This allowed the widespread use of cotton underwear at low cost which in turn meant that people could change their underwear frequently, thus eliminating the body lice and fleas which had made life both uncomfortable and dangerous before.

      • Child labor

        • People did not like to work in the early factories, because they looked like poorhouses which they hated, so factories employed young children, especially orphans

        • The use of children allowed entrepreneurs to cram more machines together in the same space, since children were of smaller stature than adults, but this also increased the possibility of accidents since the machines were so close together

        • Children worked under appalling conditions, calling forth the first attempts to reform the industrial revolution.

      • Foreign trade

        • The industrial revolution stimulated foreign trade as well

        • As more goods were produced than could be consumed on the home markets, countries became more aggressive in finding markets overseas

        • This was especially important as European countries were not increasing their trade with their traditional European partners

        • Some came to believe that colonies would be needed, along with overseas trade, to take up the slack

        • These beliefs, plus the search for raw materials like cotton which Europe simply could not produce given the climate, led to the search for formal and informal colony holding--a new imperialism.

      • Population increases

        • A larger population made possible by greater agricultural production and improved medicine provided plenty of workers for the new industries, so many in fact that wages fell

        • When one group demanded a wage hike, employers could find others willing, even desperate, to work for the older wageóor even less

        • As the population of Europe grew, many abandoned the continent to become emigrants in North and South America

    • The brutality of the early industrial revolution caused some to begin a reform of the system

    • This reform wuld be spearheaded not by the middle class but by the liberal aristocrats.

II.  Early Reforms Of The Industrial Revolution

  • The early reforms of the industrial revolution were not launched by the middle class which was enjoying a privileged lifestyle, but rather by the liberal aristocrats who were motivated by a sentimental view of the past

  • Middle-class world view

    • In fact, the middle class world view and economic theory were hostile in the extreme to reform.

    • Merchants were now engaged in real capitalism and manufacturing, as opposed to mere trading of raw materials like furs and tobacco

    • To succeed as a capitalist entrepreneur, vast sums of money would be needed, and so the corporate form was increasingly adopted to raise the money (capital) it would take to compete in the industrial revolution

    • Rise of Corporations

      • The virtue of the corporation was that, by dividing itself into many small shares, it made it possible for those with small sums to invest to buy into the economy

      • In short, it tapped into the small reservoirs of money, instead of relying on one or two vast fortunes as the old partnership arrangement did

      • Thus the corporation harnessed the full investment potential of a country instead of that of only the rich

      • But to do so it separated ownership and management; in theory, the shareholders actually owned the company, but since there were so many of them, it was almost impossible for them to make their will felt on the management of the company.

    • Laissez-faire economics

      • The middle class also firmly believed in laissez-faire economics

        • which argued that it was impossible to control or correct the social evils of the industrial revolution

        • therefore, government was to maintain a hands-off policy at all costs

      • While in theory the middle class wanted as little regulation as possible on the grounds of laissez faire, in fact, governments were involved deeply in the economy with their approval:

        • tariffs which kept out foreign competition

        • a favorable immigration policy which kept the wage pool large enough to prevent unions from forming

        • taxes and bounties for relocating businesses in certain areas

        • an empire for cheap raw materials

        • and of course the stability and peace a powerful nation could provide were welcomed by middle class entrepreneurs

      • What they objected to was any regulation in exchange for the government's bounty

    • Population theory and Social Darwinism

      • Thomas Malthus and Population

        • The middle class were also now fortified by Malthus' views on population

        • He argued that pain and poverty were inescapable and that helping the unfortunate of the industrial revolution would result in overpopulation with catastrophic results for all humanity

      • Herbert Spencer

        • During the 1850s, Herbert Spencer borrowed from Charles Darwin's ideas on evolution and tried to apply them to human society

        • His ideas quickly gained acceptance among the new middle class

        • Social Darwinism

          • Poverty, the middle class believed, was clearly the result of vice; you are poor because of some character flaw

          • If that was so, no government reform program was possible or desirable, since the government could not legislate morality

    • Challenges to middle-class world view

      • Only when people came to see that poverty was at least partly the result of the environment was a reform program acceptable to the middle class, for they could agree that the state could legislate ventilation, work hours, minimum wage, etc.,even if it could not mandate "goodness."

      • Irish Potato Famine

        • The smug, self-satisfied view of the middle class which regarded reform as unnecessary and even counterproductive was challenged by the great potato famine in Ireland

        • The Irish had quickly adopted the potato as a subsistence crop, since one acre of potatoes could feed the same number of people it took four to five acres of grain to do

        • As more potatoes were crammed into smaller plots, the possibility of disease went up, culminating in the 1845-6 potato crop failure, which recurred in 1848 and 1851

        • The horrors of starvation and death the collapsing economy produced, starvation clearly due not to personal vice but to disease of the potato, began to convince the middle class that the environment might play a role in causing poor people to go bad

  • Aristocracy and reform

    • Given the middle class world view, it is not surprising to learn that it was the older, land-owning aristocracy which led the move to reform the industrial revolution

      • however, they did so for reasons not always as altruistic as they would have believed

      • True, they were under the influence of humanitarianism as well as a revival of Christianity and religious observances; taking care of the poor and unfortunate was to them a Christian duty

    • But in no way were these aristocrats interested in democracy, or extending the franchise to the poor

    • Their reforms were a gift, not something the poor could demand as a right (noblesse oblige)

    • Historical obligations

      • The aristocrats were further influenced by a sentimental view of the relationship between the aristocracy and peasants of the Middle Ages

      • It was part of the Gothic revival which saw Europe go crazy over medieval romances, ballads and stories, as opposed to the stiff formalism they denounced in the Enlightenment

      • The mania for building Gothic structures, from the 19th century palaces of the rich to the Parliament buildings in London, is evidence of their respect for the Middle Ages and the great architectural style it produced

      • According to this guzzied up, sentimentalized view of the medieval period, the nobles had "taken care" of "their" peasants, under the principle of noblesse oblige, meaning that such nobles were obliged by their station in life to be generous.

      • Such a view on the part of 19th century aristocrats in no way regarded the workers they were trying to help as their equals either socially or politically

    • Challenge to the middle class

      • In fact, one clear motive of these aristocrats was to curtail the power of the uppity middle class that had grown rich on the spoils of the industrial revolution and were challenging the nobles socially.

      • Aristocratic reform, for whatever motives, began in England with attempts to limit children's labor

      • Note that the beneficiaries of noble largesse were in fact those least able to protect themselves, thus fulfilling noblesse oblige, and those also least likely to ask for or be granted the right to vote or strike

  • Reform efforts

    • Working conditions

      • The Factory Act of 1833

        • decreed that no child under nine could work

        • no one under the age of 18 could work at night

        • furthermore, it provided government inspectors to administer the act

      • Laws were enacted limiting the work of children in the mines

      • Labor Unions

        • And in a small nod in the direction of adults, labor unions were legalized when the 1824 Combinations Acts were repealed

        • while labor unions were now legal, the right to strike was not, at least not until 1874

      • Problems with automation

        • As automation through machines increased, many formerly skilled workers, then as now, were driven into the ranks of the unskilled and either could find no work or worked for much less than they had made before

        • As their poverty increased, workers were obliged to send their children out to work, robbing them of their childhood and an education, and increasing the wage pool so wages stayed low

    • Life in the industrial cities

      • Crowding in industrial centers lead to disease, and industry was especially difficult for women

        • they worked hard for lower wages than men

        • pregnancy remained life-threatening to most women; if they survived the birth, it meant more mouths to feed and less ability to earn wages

        • As the 19th century wore on, women were increasingly victims of wife beating as their husbands took out their frustrations on their wives

        • Temperance efforts

          • In large numbers, women joined temperance movements to outlaw alcohol so as to protect themselves from drunken husbands

          • The law was no help

        • Wife-beating was legal

          • the only thing the law regulated was the size of the rod the husband used to beat her with

          • If it was smaller than the man's thumb, it was acceptable.

  • The pace of industrial life was difficult for peasants or former artisans to adjust to. In the factory, the machines set the pace and never seemed to get tired

    • New industrial workers came to realize how much control they once had--and now lost--to the machine

    • The work place was exceedingly dangerous as well, with poor ventilation and lighting increasing the possibility of accidents. In this repetitive and dangerous environment, many workers escaped into heavy drinking

    • The middle class frequently claimed these alcoholic binges were yet proof again of the vice gripping the proletariat and refused to see any cause and effect relationship between heavy drinking and the inhumane working conditions of the poor

  • Workers' demands

    • Partly because of the difficulties faced by the workers, many criticized humanitarian reform, claiming it did not go far enough in alleviating distress

    • Workers wanted the right to vote so they could represent themselves, and they did not want either the land-owning aristocracy or the middle class representing them

  • Utopian movements

    • Robert Owen

      • Utopian Socialists like Robert Owen tried to establish communities based on he idea of no ownership of property and equal work from all

      • His experiments like New Lanark, a model factory town that existed from 1815 to 1825, and later New Harmony in the United States, failed because they lacked good leadership

    • Christian Socialists

      • More successful were the Christian Socialists who drew on Christianity for their inspiration to reform, especially the Sermon on the Mount, and in so doing helped to reconcile socialism and Christianity in a highly religious age

      • They made atheistic socialism seem more acceptable when they offered Jesus himself as the model reformer

    • Karl Marx and Frederich Engels

      • the most important critics of humanitarian reform were Karl Marx and Frederich Engels

        • they united sociology, economics and all human history in one understandable story that predicted the ultimate victory of the proletariat

        • Marx believed in economic determinism, that is that economics determines the course of all human history

          • He posited he idea of a class struggle between the exploited and exploiters

          • Mankind was in the last stage of this struggle that would end in revolution and in a classless society

      • Socialism was inevitable, he claimed, because the economic situation would only get worse

        • Thus, he was not in favor of reforming the capitalist system as it then existed, arguing that to do so would only postpone the final victory of the proletariat revolution he predicted

      • Marx described a society that of course had never yet existed

        • He was, therefore, not constrained by reality, since he was describing something in the future; he did not have to make this proposed society conform to the known world since it would exist in a world never known before

        • Later communist leaders like Lenin would have grave difficulties translating this dream world into reality after seizing power during the revolution Marx had foretold

  • The failure of the continent to respond positively to the disasters of the industrial revolution as England had begun doing increased workers' dissatisfaction and accordingly worker violence

    • Dictatorial governments responded by creating ever more repressive regimes

    • Ironically, the overthrow of the capitalist system would eventually occur in one of the least industrialized countries which fit few if any of Marx's prerequisites for a communist state--Russia


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