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Industrial Revolution Essay, Research Paper

In the last part of the 18th century, a new revolution gripped the world that we were not ready for (Perry, 510). This revolution was not a political one, but it would lead to many implications later in its existence (Perry, 510). Neither was this a social or Cultural Revolution, but an economic one (Perry, 510). The Industrial revolution, as historians call it, began the modern world. It began the world we live in today and our way of life in that world. It is called a revolution because the changes it made were so great. They were also sudden, although the preparation for these changes took many years. It is called industrial because it had to do with manufacture. “Manufacture” means the making of every kind of useful article, from cotton cloth to brass pins. The Industrial Revolution changed how the world produced its goods and altered our societies from a mainly agricultural society to one in which industry and manufacturing was in control.

The Industrial revolution began in England in the middle of the 18th century (Perry, 511). It was in full swing at the time of the American Declaration of Independence in 1776 and England at the time was the most powerful empire on the planet (Perry, 511). So, it was inevitable that the country with the most wealth would be a leader in this revolution. This revolution transformed the entire life of the people and it the habits of workers-the men and women who produced the goods. It brought down prices, so that people were able to buy things they could not buy before. It made some men rich, but it reduced the earning power of others. It gave work to many that had been unemployed. At the same time it took jobs away from many skilled workers. Because British entrepreneurs were unable to meet the increased demand for goods by traditional methods of production, the domestic handicraft system of manufacturing gave way beginning in the late 18th century to factory-based mechanization.

The cotton industry was the first to be fully mechanized (Perry, 515). The crucial inventions were James Hargreaves’s spinning jenny (1765), Richard Arkwright’s water frame (1769), Samuel Crompton’s mule (1779), and Edmund Cartwright’s machine loom (1765, but delayed in its general use) (Perry, 515). The first factories were driven by water, but James Watt’s steam engine (1760’s) made steam-driven machinery and modern factories possible from the 1780’s (Perry, 515). Each development spawned new technological breakthroughs, as for example, Sir Henry Bessemer’s process for making steel (1856) (Perry, 517). With the sudden introduction of machines powered by waterwheels or steam engines manufacturing had to be done in hot, crowded factories and the work became harder for the workers (Perry, 524). It could no longer be done in comfortable homes with spinning wheels, for example, or handlooms.

The Industrial Revolution affected many other kinds of manufacture. For the making of machines, tools, and engines, huge ironworks became necessary and these used new methods (Perry 516-17). When the railways came, rolling mills for iron and steel rails did a large business (Perry, 517). It’s easy to see how the Industrial Revolution changed more than the geography of England. It changed the living habits and economic conditions of almost all the English people as well (Perry, 519-523). Families everywhere moved to cities to get employment (Perry, 520-22). Country villages were deserted and the cities grew rapidly (Perry, 520-22). Now that waterpower was no longer necessary, towns grew up far from rivers. Under the new industrial ownership men grew enormously rich in a short time. When labor was paid almost starvation wages, there was an immense gap between the rich and the poor (Perry, 522-24). The nation was no longer self-supporting in food as agriculture became less important (Perry, 513). More and more food, raw cotton, bar iron, flax and other raw materials were imported. All the time the British Empire grew in size and activity. Britain had certain natural advantages that help to explain why the Industrial Revolution began there. It was richly endowed with coal and iron, easily navigable waterways, and easily negotiated coasts. It was favorably placed at the crossroads of international trade, and the largest free-trade area in Europe.

The Industrial Revolution began the movement of the world. The historical term Industrial Revolution can be applied to specific countries and periods of the past. The process known as industrialization is still going on, particularly in developing countries. This process has changed the entire life of people. It has made many rich and many poor. It has brought out the inventiveness and creativeness of people. It has given people the will to achieve, caused happiness, but also has caused tragedies. However, without the occurrence of the Industrial Revolution, society would be uncivilized. People and life in general would be slow and repetitive. It would also make life unfulfilling. The story of what people can do if they are left alone to think, work, invest and employ their energies is the story that is being related here. Civilization is the story of human freedom if anything.

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