McKay: Chapter 23 – The Revolution in Western Politics, 1775-1815; Chapter 25 – Ideologies and Upheavals, 1815-1871



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The Emergence of Industrial Society in the West, 1750-1914

McKay: Chapter 23 – The Revolution in Western Politics, 1775-1815; Chapter 25 – Ideologies and Upheavals, 1815-1871

The Industrial Revolution created new economic structures; the changes rivaled those brought by the Neolithic revolution. All aspects of human life were touched. European power rose, and extensions of Western civilization developed in other lands.


Optimism in Chaos. In the book, Progress of the Human Mind, the French writer Marquis de Condorcet concluded that progress was inevitable, that humankind was on the verge of perfection. His prediction turned out to be only partially correct.
The Age of Revolution. Even before industrialization, new ideas and social pressures caused a series of social and political revolutions in the West.
Forces of Change. A series of political revolutions began in 1775 with the American Revolution and continued with the French Revolution of 1789, and later lesser revolutions. Major trends reversed previous quieter eighteenth-century European themes. Intellectual ferment was high beneath the calm eighteenth-century surface. Enlightenment thinkers challenged the existing order and opened a gap between intellectuals and established institutions. They were joined by businesspeople in encouraging economic and technical change. Another source of disruption was the effect of a huge population increase. Upper-class families, to protect their more numerous children, tightened their grip on public offices. Business families were more willing to take risks. Rural families were forced into the proletariat. The population growth stimulated a rapid expansion of domestic manufacturing and consumerism. Youthful independence grew as the possibility of inheritance from parents declined. Sexual behavior, especially among the lower social classes, altered, with premarital sex rapidly increasing the number of out-of-wedlock births.
Chapter 23: The Revolution in Western Politics; Liberty and Equality – The American Revolution (1775-1789)

The American Revolution. American colonists after 1763 resisted British attempts to impose new taxes and trade controls and to restrict westward movement. Young men seeking new opportunities turned against the older colonial leadership. Revolution followed in 1775. British strategic mistakes and French assistance helped Americans to win independence. In 1789, they created a new constitutional structure based on Enlightenment principles. The revolution, by extending male voting rights, created the world's most democratic society. Social change was more limited: slavery continued.
Chapter 23: The Revolution in Western Politics; Liberty and Equality – The French Revolution (1789-1791)

Crisis in France in 1789. In France, ideological fervor for change had been growing from the middle of the eighteenth century. Enlightenment thinkers called for limitations on aristocratic and church power and for increased voice for ordinary citizens. Middle-class people wanted a greater political role, while peasants desired freedom from landlord exactions. Growing commercial activity created a market economy, affecting many individuals. The government and ruling elite proved incapable of reform. Louis XVI called a meeting of the long-ignored traditional parliament but lost control of events to middle-class representatives during 1789. The Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Citizen, proclaimed by the assembly, and the storming of the Bastille, were important events in the evolution of a new regime. After peasants acted on their own to redress grievances, the assembly abolished manorialism and established equality before the law. Aristocratic principles were undercut, and the church’s privileges were attacked and its property seized. Royal authority was limited by a parliament with male voting rights based on property.
Chapter 23: The Revolution in Western Politics; World War and Republican France- (1791-1799)

The French Revolution: Radical and Authoritarian Phases. The initial reforms provoked aristocratic and church resistance, causing civil war in some regions. Economic chaos added to the disorder. Foreign regimes opposed the new government. The pressures led to a takeover of the revolution by more radical groups. The monarchy was abolished and the king executed; internal enemies of the regime were purged during the Reign of Terror. The new rulers wished to extend reforms, calling for universal male suffrage and broad social reform. The metric system was introduced, and all male citizens became subject to military service. The invaders of France were driven out and revolutionary fervor spread to other European nations. The radical leadership of the revolution fell in 1795 and more moderate government followed. The final phase of the revolution appeared when a leading general, Napoleon Bonaparte, converted the revolutionary republic into an authoritarian empire. Napoleon confirmed many of the revolution's accomplishments, including religious liberty and equality under the law (but not for women). Napoleon concentrated on foreign expansion; France by 1812 dominated most of Western Europe, except for Britain. Popular resistance in Portugal and Spain, a disastrous invasion of Russia, and British intervention crushed Napoleon's empire by 1815. The ideals of the revolution—equality under the law, the attack on privileged institutions, popular nationalism—survived the defeat.

A Conservative Settlement and the Revolutionary Legacy. The victorious allies worked to restore a balance of power in the peace settlement of 1815. France was not punished severely, although its border states were strengthened. Europe remained fairly stable for half a century, but internal peace was not secured. The conservative victors attempted to repress revolutionary radicalism, but new movements arose to challenge them. Liberals sought to limit state interference in individual life and to secure representation of propertied classes in government. Radicals wanted more and pushed for extended voting rights. Socialists attacked private property and capitalist exploitation. Nationalists, allied with the other groups, stressed national unity. All groups gained ground; the key political discussion became centered on constitutional structures and political participation. The middle-class was joined by urban artisans in the reform quest. New revolutions with varying results occurred in the 1820s and 1830s in Greece, Spain, Portugal, France, Italy, Germany, and Belgium. Britain and the United States were part of the process, but without revolution, as they extended male suffrage. Most of the revolutions secured increased guarantees of liberal rights and religious freedom.
Industrialization and the Revolutions of 1848. All Western governments participated in some way in the processes of the Industrial Revolution. Lower-class groups began to turn to their governments to compensate for industrial change. Revolts followed in 1848 and 1849 when governments proved unresponsive. A popular rising in France in 1848 overthrew the monarchy in favor of a brief democratic republic. Urban artisans pressed for social reform and women agitated for equal rights. The revolution spread to Germany, Austria, and Hungary. Adherents sought liberal constitutions, social reforms restricting industrialization, and the termination of manorialism. Also present were ethnic demands for unity or increased autonomy. The 1848 revolutions generally failed, as conservatives and middle-class groups protected their interests. Peasants alone secured their aims, making them very conservative henceforth. The general failure taught potential revolutionaries that gradual methods had to be followed. Social changes also influenced revolutionary ideas. Artisans concentrated on their work and operated within the system. By 1850, a new class structure was in place. Aristocrats declined in power as social structure became based on wealth. Middle-class property owners now were pitted against a working class. The old alliances producing revolutions had dissolved and revolution in the West became obsolete.
The Consolidation of the Industrial Order, 1850-1914. Industrial development continued after 1850, bringing new social changes. Political unification came to Germany and Italy, and governments elsewhere developed new functions. The rise of socialism changed political conditions. Urban growth continued, but at a slower pace; in the cities, the conditions of living ameliorated for all classes.
Adjustments to Industrial Life. Family life adjusted to the changes imposed by the industrial economy. Stable populations resulted from declining birthrates and death rates. Greater value was placed on children. Material conditions generally improved as individuals enjoyed better diets, housing, health, and leisure time. Labor movements formed and provided strength for seeking better wages and working conditions. Peasant protests declined and rural isolation diminished. Peasants learned to use market conditions to improve their lives. They developed cooperatives, specialized in cash crops, and sent children to school to learn better techniques.
Chapter 25: Ideologies and Upheavals, 1815-1871

Political Trends and the Rise of New Nations. Western leaders worked to reduce the reasons for revolution after 1850. Liberals and conservatives realized that cautious change was acceptable to their interests. British conservative Benjamin Disraeli granted the vote to working-class men in 1867. Count Camillo di Cavour, in the Italian state of Piedmont, supported industrialization and extended parliament's powers. Otto von Bismarck of Prussia extended the vote to all adult men. Conservatives used the force of nationalism to win support for the existing social order. In Britain and the United States, they won support by identifying with imperial causes; Cavour stimulated nationalist rebellion to unite most of the Italian peninsula under Piedmont. Bismarck fought wars in the 1860s and 1870s that led to German unity in 1871. Other nations also reduced key political issues. The American Civil War of the 1860s ended the dispute over sectional rights and abolished slavery. France established a conservative republic based on full adult male suffrage. Most Western nations by then had parliamentary systems in which basic liberties were protected and political parties contested peacefully for office.
The Social Question and New Government Functions. Government functions expanded after 1870. Civil service exams allowed individuals to win positions through their own talent. School systems generally became compulsive to the age of 12 and even beyond; literacy became almost universal. Wider welfare measures replaced or supplemented private agencies providing assistance for accidents, illness, and old age. The changes meant that governments and ordinary citizens had more contacts than at any time in history. A realignment of the political spectrum occurred. Social issues became the key criteria for partisanship. The rise of socialism depended on working-class grievances and reflected Karl Marx’s theory that made socialism the final phase of historical development. Leaders in many countries translated his theories into political action. Socialist parties became major forces in Germany, Austria, and France by the 1880s. Some socialists—revisionists—became supporters of parliamentary democracy to achieve their goals. Feminist movements by 1900 also challenged the existing order, sometimes by violent actions. Many Western countries extended the right to vote to women during the early decades of the twentieth century.
Cultural Transformations. Western culture changed because of consumer emphasis and developments in science and the arts.
Emphasis on Consumption and Leisure. Higher wages and increased leisure time produced important alterations in popular culture. Many working-class men and women accepted middle-class values. The idea grew that pleasure was a legitimate part of life. The productive capacity of factories meant that consumption had to be encouraged. Product crazes occurred; the stimulated consumerism overcame older customs hindering pleasure seeking. Mass leisure culture emerged with popular newspapers, entertainment, and vacations. Leisure had become a commodity to be regularly enjoyed. The rise of disciplined team sports was one aspect of the change. All the popular interests demonstrated a growing secularism present in all aspects of life.
Advances in Scientific Knowledge. Science continued to gain ground, but many other intellectual movements attempted to explain reality. The size of the intellectual and artistic community expanded and found a growing market for its products. Most of the activity was secular. Western cultural activity had been built on traditions of rationalism, and the continuing advances in science kept the tradition alive. Darwin offered evolutionary theory in biology and Einstein advanced the theory of physical relativity. The social sciences advanced as a means of gathering empirical knowledge concerning human affairs. Freud developed his theories of the workings of human consciousness.
New Directions in Artistic Expression. Rationalism was not the only intellectual current. Romanticism insisted that emotion and impression were the keys to understanding human experience. By 1900, the abandonment of conventional standards had expanded to painting, sculpture, and music. African and east Asian influences were joined to the Western experience. The split between Romanticism and rationalism caused much debate; scientists were supporters of the industrial order, while artists followed experimental paths to finding the reality of modern life. At neither popular nor formal levels did Western culture produce a synthesis during the nineteenth century.
Western Settler Societies. The Industrial Revolution prompted a major expansion of the West's power. New markets for manufactured goods and new sources of raw materials were needed. The transportation and communication networks resulting from the Industrial Revolution intensified the effect of the Western-led world economy. They also allowed Europeans and their superior weapons to spread their empires. Massive European immigration created overseas Western societies.
Emerging Power of the United States. The United States grew from its limited colonial origins to expand across North America. The profound differences that had existed between the industrial North and the slave-holding South were resolved by the North's victory in the Civil War. The conflict was the first modern war; industrially produced weapons caused extensive casualties. The Civil War accelerated American industrialization and made the United States a major competitor of the leading industrial nations. New technology greatly elevated American agricultural production and exports. American cultural life was parochial; its major artists and writers sought inspiration in Western Europe. Scientific work improved after the creation of research universities based on the German model. By 1900, the United States was emerging as a great power.
European Settlements in Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. The three British colonies also received many immigrants during the nineteenth century. They established parliamentary governments, vigorous commercial economies, and followed European cultural patterns. Canada, after continuing friction between British rulers and French inhabitants, formed a federal system, with the majority of the French residing in Quebec. The Australian colonies developed after 1788 amidst an indigenous hunting and gathering population. Agricultural development and the discovery of gold spurred population growth and the economy. A federal system of government emerged by 1900. In New Zealand, missionaries and settlers moved into Maori lands. The Maori were defeated by the 1860s. Generally good relations followed, and New Zealand developed a strong agricultural economy and a parliamentary system. The three territories remained part of the British Empire and were dependent on its economy. Basic European cultural forms prevailed.
In Depth: The United States in World History. Should the United States be regarded as a separate civilization? Some argue that contact with western Europe was incidental to the development of the United States on its own terms. They assert that the vast continent forced changes in the European inheritance. There were clear differences. The absence of a peasantry and the presence of the frontier into the 1890s negated some of the social ills besetting Europeans. Political life was more stable and revolved around a two-party system. Socialism did not become a significant force. Religion was important, but was not a political issue. Slavery and racist attitudes were ongoing problems. In world history terms, however, the United States clearly is a part of Western civilization, sharing its political thought, culture, family patterns, and economic organization.
Diplomatic Tensions and World War I. The power balance within Europe was altered by the rise of Germany. Bismarck realized this and created a complex alliance system to protect Germany. European nations expended their energies in an overseas expansion that by 1900 covered most of the globe. Latin America remained independent, but was under extensive United States interest. China and the Middle East were the scene of an intense power competition. Imperial rivalries were a part of the tensions among Europeans. Britain worried about the growth of the German navy and Germany's surging economy. France, to escape diplomatic isolation, drew closer to Britain and Russia.
The New Alliance System. By 1907, the great powers were divided into two alliance systems. Germany, Austria-Hungary, and Italy were in the Triple Alliance; Britain, Russia, and France had the Triple Entente. All powers built up military strength. Each system was dependent on an unstable partner. Russia suffered from revolution in 1905; Austria-Hungary was plagued by ethnic nationality disputes. Both nations were involved in Balkan disputes. Balkan nations had won independence from the Ottomans during the nineteenth century, but hostility persisted among them, while nationalism threatened Austria-Hungary and its Slav population. Continuing crises finally led to the assassination of an Austrian archduke by a Serbian nationalist. The response of the nations in the two European alliances resulted in World War I.
Diplomacy and Society. The West had long been characterized by political rivalries, and during the nineteenth century its nation-states system, free from serious challenge from other states, went out of control. Western society was strained by an industrialization that increased the destructive capacity of warfare. Political leaders, more worried about social protest among the masses, tried to distract them by diplomatic successes. Many among the masses, full of nationalistic pride, applauded such actions.
Global Connections: Industrial Europe and the World. Europe’s growing power during the nineteenth century transformed the world. Imperialism and the new world economy pushed European interests into every corner of the globe, creating a template to be emulated or resisted. Europe was a global force in the nineteenth century as no society had ever been.

Key Terms


Population revolution: Huge growth in population in western Europe beginning about 1730; prelude to industrialization.
Protoindustrialization: Preliminary shift away from an agricultural economy; workers become full-or-part-time producers who worked at home in a capitalist system in which materials, work, orders, and sales depended on urban merchants; prelude to the Industrial Revolution.
American Revolution: Rebellion of the British American Atlantic seaboard colonies; ended with the formation of the independent United States.
French Revolution: Overthrow of the Bourbon monarchy through a revolution beginning in 1789; created a republic and eventually ended with Napoleon’s French empire; the source of many liberal movements and constitutions in Europe.
Louis XVI: Bourbon ruler of France who was executed during the radical phase of the French Revolution.
Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Citizen: Adopted during the French Revolution; proclaimed the equality of French citizens; become a source document for later liberal movements.
Guillotine: Introduced as a method of “human” execution; used during the French Revolution against thousands of individuals, especially during the Reign of Terror.
Napoleon Bonaparte: Army officer who rose in rank during the wars of the French Revolution; ended the democratic phase of the revolution; became emperor; deposed and exiled in 1815.
Congress of Vienna: Met in 1815 after the defeat of France to restore the European balance of power.
Liberalism: Political ideology that flourished in nineteenth-century western Europe; stressed limited state interference in private life, representation of the people in government; urged importance of constitutional rule and parliaments.
Radicals: Following of a nineteenth-century western European political emphasis; advocated broader voting rights than liberals did; urged reforms favoring the lower classes.
Socialism: Political ideology in nineteenth-century Europe; attacked private property in the name of equality; wanted state control of the means of production and an end to the capitalistic exploitation of the working class.
Nationalism: European nineteenth-century viewpoint; often allied with other “isms”; urged the importance of national unity; valued a collective identity based on ethnic origins.
Greek Revolution: Rebellion of the Greeks against the Ottoman Empire in 1820; a key step in the disintegration of the Turkish Balkan Empire.
French Revolution of 1830: Second revolution against the Bourbon dynasty; a liberal movement that created a bourgeois government under a moderate monarchy.
Belgian Revolution of 1830: Produced Belgian independence from the Dutch; established a constitutional monarchy.
Reform Bill of 1832: British legislation that extended the vote to most male members of the middle class.
James Watt: Devised a steam engine in the 1770s that could be used for production in many industries; a key step in the Industrial Revolution.
Factory system: Intensification of all of the processes of production at a single site during the Industrial Revolution; involved greater organization of labor and increased discipline.
Luddites: Workers in Britain who responded to the replacement of their labor by machines during the Industrial Revolution by attempting to destroy machines; named after the fictional worker Ned Ludd.
Chartist movement: Unsuccessful attempt by British artisans and workers to gain the vote during the 1840s.
French Revolution of 1848: Overthrew the French monarchy established in 1830; briefly established the Second French Republic.
Louis Pasteur: Discover of germs and of the purifying process named after him.
Benjamin Disraeli: British politician; granted the vote to working-class men in 1867; an example of conservative politicians keeping stability through reform.
Count Camillo di Cavour: Architect of Italian unification of 1858; created a constitutional Italian monarchy under the King of Piedmont.
Otto von Bismarck: Conservative prime minister of Prussia; architect of German unification under the Prussian king in 1871; used liberal reforms to maintain stability.
American Civil War (1861-1865): Fought to prevent secession of the southern states; the first war to incorporate the products and techniques of the Industrial Revolution; resulted in the abolition of slavery and the reunification of the United States.
Transformismo: Political system in Italy that allied conservatives and liberals in support of the status quo.
Social question: Issues relating to workers and women in Western Europe during the Industrial Revolution; became more critical than constitutional issues after 1870.
Karl Marx: German socialist who saw history as a class struggle between groups out of power and those controlling the means of production; preached the inevitability of social revolution and the creation of a proletarian dictatorship.
Revisionism: Socialist thought that disagreed with Marx’s formulation; believed that social and economic progress could be achieved through existing political institutions.
Feminist movements: Sought legal and economic gains for women, among them equal access to professions and higher education; came to concentrate on the right to vote; won initial support from middle-class women.
Mass leisure culture: An aspect of the later Industrial Revolution; decreased time at work and offered opportunities for new forms of leisure time, such as vacation trips and team sports.
Charles Darwin: Biologist who developed the theory of evolution of species; argued that all living forms evolved through the successful ability to adapt in a struggle for survival.
Albert Einstein: Formulated mathematical theories to explain the behavior of planetary motion and the movement of electrical particles; in about 1900 issued the theory of relativity.
Sigmund Freud: Viennese physician who developed theories of the workings of the human subconscious; argued that behavior is determined by impulses.
Romanticism: Nineteenth-century western European artistic and literary movement; held that emotion and impression, not reason, were the keys to the mysteries of human experience and nature; sought to portray passions, not calm reflection.
Triple Alliance: Alliance among Germany, Austria-Hungry, and Italy at the end of the nineteenth century; part of the European balance of power system before World War I.
Triple Entente: Agreement among Britain, Russia, and France in 1907; part of the European balance of power system before World War I.
Balkan nationalism: Movements to create independent states and reunite ethnic groups in the
Balkans; provoked crises within the European alliance system that ended with the outbreak of World War I.


Fill in the blank


  1. It was the ___________________ that most clearly set in motion the political restructuring of western Europe.




  1. Thousands of people were executed during the ______________, the radical phase of the French Revolution.




  1. The final phase of the French Revolution was ushered in by the victory of ______________, a leading general who soon converted the republic to an authoritarian empire.




  1. ____________________ focused primarily on issues of political structure, as they sought ways to limit state interference in individual life.




  1. ___________________ wanted wider voting rights and, in some cases, outright democracy.




  1. The essence of the ________________________ was technological change, particularly the application of engines driven by coal to the production process.




  1. Count ______________________ in the Italian state of Piedmont began to support industrial development and extend the powers of parliament to please liberal forces.




  1. ____________ held that emotion and impression, not reason and generalization, were the keys to the mysteries of human experience and nature itself.




  1. Germany, Austria-Hungry, and Italy formed the ____________________.




  1. Britain, Russia, and France constituted the _______________________.



True or False


  1. Napoleon confirmed some of the developments of the French Revolution, including religious freedom and equality under the Napoleonic law codes.




  1. Otto von Bismarck was responsible for introducing universal male suffrage into Germany, with a system that distributed voting strength according to wealth.




  1. Sigmund Freud developed his theories of the workings of the human unconscious, arguing that behavior is based strictly on emotional responses that cannot be reduced to rational understanding.




  1. Canada, like the United States, was separated from its European origins by a war of independence.




  1. During the radical stage of the French Revolution, King Louis XIV was executed.




  1. Nationalists urged the importance of national unity and glory in the search for a collective identity that could conflict with liberal individualism.




  1. The factory system allowed manufacturers to introduce greater specialization of labor and more explicit rules and discipline.




  1. The overall success of the revolutions of 1848 drew the revolutionary era in Europe to a close.




  1. Italy developed a system called Risorgimento in which parliamentary deputies were transformed once in Rome to a single-minded pursuit of political office and support of the status quo.




  1. Karl Marx saw socialism as the final phase of an inexorable march of history shaped by the available means of production and who controlled them.



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