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The Industrial Revolution In England Essay, Research Paper

The Industrial Revolution in England

The Industrial Revolution brought about a major change in the lives of

almost all of the people of England. The people of the working class

benefitted from the Industrial Revolution. In other words, I am an

optimist. I think that the standard of living of the people increased.

However, I also believe that many people of the working class lost their

independence as a result of the revolution. Greed did not increase over

this time period because there was just as much greed before the

Industrial Revolution. The Industrial Revolution was a step forward for

women because they wanted to be at home with their children. The working

class in England had a higher standard of living during the Industrial

Revolution than before it started.

Living Standards

The living standards of the working class of England improved during the

Industrial Revolution. At the start of the revolution, from 1790 to 1815,

prices and wages grew steeply. At this point, the prices were a little

higher than the wages. This was due to the war against France from 1793

to 1815. Was it just a coincidence that the prices were higher only

during the time that the war was going on? I do not believe that this was

the case. Prices tend to go up during wars. After the war with France

ended, the prices went back down very sharply. Wages did not decrease as

much. They went down marginally, but not close to the sharp decline in

prices. For the bulk of the revolution, wages were higher than the

prices. After the people of England had bought their necessities to live

on, they still had money left over because of the decrease in prices.

This constituted higher living standards because the people had more money

to spend on things other than the necessities. !

Pessimists argue that the chart from which this information was taken is

incorrect because it only shows factory workers. However, the factories

were where most of the people of England were working. People knew that

they would make more money in the factories, and consequently, the people

of England flocked to the factories. Pessimists also claim that it is

unfair to disclaim responsibility for the Industrial Revolution during the

war time years with France. But why should optimists be responsible for

the years of poor living standards when it was not the revolution’s fault?

It was the war’s fault, not the revolution’s fault. It is obvious that

over the course of the Industrial Revolution, death rates in England

decreased. There was also a large population increase because of the

decreased mortality rates. “20% of the population growth came from

increased birth rates, while the rest came from declining mortality

rates.” (Bin. p. 103) From 1700-1750, the death rates i!

n England were 32 out of every thousand people per year. By the

1810’s, death rates were down to 21 out of every thousand people. At the

end of the revolution, in the 1840’s, the death rates were at 22 out of

every thousand people per year. “There were no significant medical

advances until after 1850 …, so improved housing, clothing, real wages,

and diets reduced the mortality rates.” (Bin. p.103) The pessimists point

out that almost all of the decline in death rates occurred before 1800.

This is correct. However, the death rates still went down. They also

point out that when the effects of industrialization took hold, the

national death rates rose from 21/1000 to 23/1000. But, even though they

rose by two more people per thousand, this is insignificant compared with

how much the death rates had already decreased. While from the 1810’s to

the 1830’s, the rates went up by two people per thousand, in the 1840’s,

the death rates went back down to 22/1000. The starting point used by the

pessimists of 1820 is unfair because it fails!

to include the portion of history during which the death rates fell the

most. “The pessimists unfairly select 1820 as their starting point, which

is to their advantage in the debate, but the technological changes in

cotton and iron, which brought about industrialization all occurred in the

1770’s and 1780’s.” (Bin. p.104) The pessimists also say that the death

rates increased in the cities. In fact, throughout the whole revolution,

they did not. In Manchester, the death rates fell from 40/1000 in 1770 to

33/1000 in the 1840’s. The death rates did go up from the 1830’s to the

1840’s, but that does not outweigh the decrease in the rates before then.

These decreased mortality rates point to an increase in the living

standards in the general population of England.


During the Industrial Revolution, the people of England lost their

independence. Before the changes were made which brought about the

Industrial Revolution, the people of England worked for themselves.

During and after the revolution, the people no longer worked for

themselves, but for large companies in factories. They now worked for a

wage instead of being paid by the amount of work that they completed. The

people of England lost their right to determine how much they would work.

Now they had to work a certain number of hours that their employers in the

factories wanted them to work. This is exactly what happened to the

handloom weavers. They were forced out of their business and into

factories. From 1795 to 1810, the amount of handloom weavers increased.

But from 1810 to 1845, the amount of handloom weavers decreased

dramatically. This was because the first power loom factory opened in

1806. After 1806, the number of power loom factories increased

dramatically. !

Handloom weavers were forced out of business because they could not keep

up with the efficiency in the factories. Two people working power looms

could produce as much cotton as seven handloom weavers. The handloom

weavers just could not keep up and either were forced out of business or

had to go work in a factory. But they lost their right to choose what

they wanted to do, and could no longer be handloom weavers. It was just

impossible for them. Another reason that people lost their independence

during the Industrial Revolution was that Enclosure came about. Enclosure

made the small land owners give up their land and find a new job. Only

the large land owners could afford to pay for all of the new requirements

that Enclosure called for. With Enclosure, all land owners had to pay a

flat tax on their land. It was also required to have your land fenced and

surveyed. People that did not own a large amount of land could not afford

to have these things done. People that !

could not afford to pay the tax on their land had their land take

n away. About 25% of the households could not afford to pay their taxes

on their land. Consequently, all of the small land owners were forced out

of business. They could not work their own land any longer. They had to

find work either on someone else’s land or in a different line of

business. Enclosure took away the population’s right to choose what they

wanted to do. It did not allow them to farm for themselves.


Greed did not increase during the Industrial Revolution. There was just

as much greed before the revolution as there was during it. The poor

treatment of children did not get any worse. It just became more

noticeable because it was all in the same place. People started noticing

the poor treatment of children because it was all in the factories instead

of being widespread as it was before the revolution. There are many

examples of the poor treatment of children before the revolution ever

started. Robert Owen was ten years old when he was an apprentice, and

said the following: “Frequently at two o’clock in the morning, after

working all day from 8 AM, I had been barely able, with the aid of the

bannisters, to go upstairs to bed.” (Bin. p.101) Another example of the

mistreatment of children is shown by the following quote: “He employed 17

apprentice girls, and had so cruelly ill- treated and starved them that 5

had died. The girls usually worked at embroidery on muslim !

from 4 or 5 in the morning until 10 or 11 at night. Their food was

usually bread and water… The 17 slept in an attic in 3 beds.” (Bin.

p.101) This kind of poor treatment of children before the revolution

started was common all throughout England. There was an improvement in

child labor laws towards the end of the revolution. The Factory Act of

1833 forbade the employment of children under 9 in textile mills, limited

children aged 9-13 to working 9 hours per day and 48 hours per week, and

limited children aged 13-18 to working 12 hours per day and 69 hours per

week. “The Mines Act of 1842 banned boys under 10 and all females from

working underground. The Ten Hours Act of 1847 limited work for children

under 18 and all females to 10 hours a day.” (Bin. p.102) Towards the end

of the revolution, the government passed these laws to limit child labor

and show that they were not greedy. Pessimists point to handloom weavers

being driven out of business as an example of the gre!

ed in the revolution. But, that was not greed. If there was a b

etter way to produce a product, then why would someone not want to use the

better method? “They had 20 years to shift to a new occupation. Their

refusal to do so was the result of stubbornness.” (Bin. p.97) Pessimists

point out that children were widely mistreated in factories. However, the

poor treatment was only noticed because it was in the same place instead

of being spread out all over the country as it was before the revolution

started. Laslett argued, “The coming of industry did not bring economic

oppression. Nor did it create a situation where workers were exploited.

These things were already there.” (B p.97)


The Industrial Revolution brought about a step forward for women. Many

people today would say that the revolution was a step backward for women,

but we are not considering what people think about this issue today. We

are analyzing whether or not it was good for the women of the early 19th

century. “In pre-industrial Europe most people generally worked as family

units.” (WS p.796) At the start of the revolution, families worked

together in the factories as well. Later, attitudes changed and child

labor was restricted. Men were expected to earn the money for the

household and women were supposed to stay at home and care for the

children. “The man emerged as the family’s primary wage earner, and the

woman found only limited job opportunities.” (WS p.796) A definite trend

formed with the men working and the women staying at home. The women of

this time period appreciated the new reforms because now they could run

their homes and watch their children grow up. Before then t!

hey could do

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