The oil boom



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The oil boom

Pennsylvania, Ohio or Texas were several states where the most important oil rushes occurred in the late 1890’s and at the beginning of the XXth century. In late 1859, blacksmith William Jeffrey drilled the first well in Ohio specifically intended to produce petroleum. After the Civil War, oil production climbed year after year, especially after major oil and gas reserves were found in Wood County in northwest Ohio in the 1880s. Between 1895 and 1903, Ohio was the leading producer of crude oil in the country and thereafter was surpassed by Texas and Oklahoma. Large scale production of oil continued into the 1930s.

As Daniel Plainview promised, this “oil gusher” brought an extravagant prosperity to some lucky investors, states or countries and played a major role in the second industrial revolution, triggering a huge evolution in economy, culture and society in the western world. But it created also some knew forms of poverty and exploitation.
The industrial era
The oil boom was an essential element of the Second Industrial Revolution which started around 1850 and dramatically changed the economies, societies and appearance of western countries. But before that, Europe had first known drastic changes since the end of the XVIIIth century. Changes which were part of the first industrial revolution.
Fiche n°2 - Factors for industrial growth (maison)
A tremendous growth of population - Answers (questions 1, 3 and 5 only – if necessary, re-explain shortly the principle of the demographic transition after the exercise):


  1. These four documents are four tables showing the growth of GB population from the end of the XVIIIth century to the end of the XIXth century/the evolution of birth rate/death rate during the same period/the average age of marriage same period

  1. Between 1700 and 1850, the population of England and Wales had been multiplied by three, Scotland had reached 1.04 million inhabitants to 2.90 and Ireland rose from 2.54 to 6.50

  1. No. The most tremendous growth of population occurred in England and Wales, which were the first to benefit from the improvement of Agriculture and living conditions. In Scotland and Ireland which are considered longer as “rural districts”, the living conditions are worse and we can see in source 4 the frightening average age at death for the labourers or artisans.

According to Robert Hughes in The Fatal Shore, the population of England and Wales, which had remained steady at 6 million from 1700 to 1740, rose dramatically after 1740. The population of England had more than doubled from 8.3 million in 1801 to 16.8 million in 1850 and, by 1901, had nearly doubled again to 30.5 million. As living conditions and health care improved during the 19th century. Britain's population doubled every 50 years. Europe’s population increased from about 100 million in 1700 to 400 million by 1900. During the Industrial Revolution, the life expectancy of children increased dramatically. The percentage of the children born in London who died before the age of five decreased from 74.5% in 1730–1749 to 31.8% in 1810–1829.



But, the steam happened to have some limits. (fiche n° 5 – coal). Moreover, the coal, necessary to fuel up the machines was coming in short supplies in Europe (blacklands in England, Creusot and east of France, Ruhr in Germany). Here we go back to what we’ve started with: oil.

To sum up, we can say that, during the second industrial revolution, from around 1880 to the IInd WW, European countries will find overseas the ressources and raw materials necessary to keep up in industrial development while the United States will highly benefit from the discovery of oil fields in Ohio, Texas or, later, Alaska. This, combined with new technological improvement and innovation, will give birth to the industrial civilization.


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