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The Industrial Revolution Essay Sample

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The Industrial Revolution Essay Sample

The Industrial Revolution that rocked America’s economic and social infrastructure was really a magnificent tool of changes. The massive development of new industries that the revolution brought with it changed the lives of millions of people. Hundreds of manufacturing cities arose all across the countries and gave its economies a tremendous impulse to development. The Industrial Revolution was one of the major technological, socioeconomic and cultural changes in the late 18th and early 19th century producing the replacement of an economy based on manual labor by one dominated by industry and machine manufacture.

The Industrial Revolution was a prominent event in the history of humankind that had essential influence on the further development of the whole world. It was a time of remarkable changes, from hand tools and handmade items, to products, which were mass produced and automatically designed.

The Industrial Revolution was a in which almost every aspect of life improved. The major and most significant improvements and inventions proved to be caused by new ideas that resulted in the restructuring of the economy. These ideas were centered on the consideration that the economy should change from an agrarian society to the industrial one. These ideas actually helped to lead to the outbreak of mass industry, and also they represented improvement of working conditions. Although, a systemized working day with a particular working hours was established. All these changes inevitably led to higher standards of living. We may state that without Industrial Revolution, the world’s economy would have remained stagnant. People still would have experienced sufferings because of the difficult times. The revolution was a bold attempt to change the whole world economy, it caused immeasurable improvements in the fields of production, transportation, and life overall.

The Industrial Revolution may also be defined as the application of power-driven machinery to manufacturing. Industrial revolution produced several developments within the chemical, electrical, petroleum, and steel industries. Mass production of wide range of consumer goods also developed at this time, for the mechanization of manufacture of food and drink, clothing and transport and even entertainment with the early cinema, radio and gramophone served the needs of the population and what’s more provided employment for the growing numbers of people. However, we know that this increasing industrial production was a factor leading up to the Long Depression and the so-called “New Imperialism.

As for the time frames of the Industrial revolution, we should note that sometimes this event is divided into two revolutions, but actually it was one revolution consisted of two periods. The second industrial revolution is also called the second phase of the Industrial revolution, for from a technological and a social point of view there is no definite boarder between the two. The end of the second industrial revolution or second phase has not been correctly defined, since it would mean that the beginning of the third period of the industrial revolution would also have to be considered. This is a difficult problem for the essence of the industrial revolution is often associated with power sources and power usage. Consequently, we may state the first phase of the industrial revolution had coal or wood-generated steam power at its essence. The second phase of the industrial revolution had the internal combustion engine and electrical motors and generators at its core.

During definite periods within history, modernization in technology have grown at such a rapid speed that they have produced what have become known as industrial revolutions. The term “Industrial revolution” originally referred to the developments that transformed primarily Great Britain with the introduction of steam power (fueled primarily by coal) and powered machinery (mainly in textile manufacturing) and then other countries, between 1750 and 1830, from a largely rural population making a living almost completely from agriculture to a town-centered or city-centered society engaged increasingly in factory manufacture. Other European nations endured the same practice soon thereafter, followed by others during the 19th century.

In some countries such renovation is only now taking place or still to be undertaken in the future. The dating of the First Industrial Revolution is not absolutely exact. Actually, there was no sharp cut-off point for the First Revolution as it merged into the Second Industrial Revolution around 1850, when technological and economic growth gained momentum with the development of steam-powered ships and railways, and afterward in the nineteenth century, of the internal combustion engine and electrical power generation. Professor T. S. Ashton was a historian and author (1889 – 1968), a professor of economic history at the University of London from 1944 until his death. …George III (George William Frederick) (4 June 1738 – 29 January 1820) was King of Great Britain, and King of Ireland from 25 October 1760 until 1 January 1801, and there after King of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland until his death. …

The effects of this world event spread throughout Western Europe and North America, ultimately affecting the rest of the world. The influence of this change on society was gigantic and is often compared with the Neolithic revolution, when mankind developed agriculture. A common understanding of Western Europe in modern times Western Europe was largely defined by the Cold War, with the Iron Curtain separating it from Eastern Europe (Warsaw Pact countries). …World map showing North America A satellite composite image of North America. …The Neolithic Revolution was the transition from hunting and gathering to agriculture, as first adopted by various independent prehistoric human societies. …

It is generally accepted that Industrial revolution was given birth in England, because that nation had available technological means, government encouragement, and a huge and wide-ranging trade network. It is recorded that the first factories appeared in 1740, concentrating mainly on textile production. In 1740 the majority of English people wore woolen garments, but within the next 100 years the scratchy, often soggy and fungus-filled woolens were replaced by cotton especially after the invention of the cotton gin by Eli Whitney, an American, in 1793.

Causes of the Industrial Revolution. The cause of the Industrial Revolution were multifaceted. Some historians regard it as an outgrowth of social and institutional changes produced by the end of feudalism in Great Britain after the English Civil War in the 17th century. We may speak here about the fact that national border controls became more effective, thus, diseases spread less, consequently putting a stop to the expanding of epidemics that was so common in previous times. The proportion of children who lived past infancy increased considerably as well, resulting in a larger amount of workforce among population. The colonial expansion of the 17th century with the accompanying growth of international trade, creation of financial markets and accumulation of capital are also factors that led to Industrial revolution. Another important factor was technological innovation; in particular we may mention development of the steam engine.

The British Agricultural Revolution also contributed to the Industrial revolution. This event made food production more efficient and at the same time less labor-intensive, that resulted in employment of additional masses of people that were without occupation. A new influx of workers entered newly appeared cities and newly-developed factories. We also should not omit technological innovation as one of the crucial factors in development of the Industrial revolution; in particular we are speaking here about invention and development of the steam engine. The appearance and development of large domestic markets should also be regarded as an important moment within the course of the Industrial Revolution. Alternatively, ongoing process of liberalization of trade from a large merchant base may have allowed to utilize emerging scientific and technological developments more successfully and effectively.

Speaking about Industrial revolution historians put question about why it was given birth particularly in Great Britain. We may state that Great Britain was able to thrive in the Industrial Revolution due to the availability of key resources it had in possession. The steady political situation in Great Britain from 1688, and society’s readiness to change can also be said to be factors favoring the course Industrial Revolution.

To be precise in chronological order of the development of the revolution it would be of use to record the following information. During the period well-known as the Industrial Revolution, we can distinguish four different divisions. The first division is dated by 1730- 1770, it was the period when the woolen spinner was introduced. Such inventor as Kay gave us the flying shuttle, and Hargreaves presented the spinning jenny. All these items made textile production faster and more efficient. In addition, within this period Watt developed a steam engine that was much more efficient and safer than the engine previously developed by Thomas Newcomen in 1705. It is significant to highlight that during this period, steam power was not put yet to use in the textile industries. During that days these industries still relied on water power.

The second period we may shape as a period from 1770 to 1792. We may note that during this period those mechanical devices invented in previous period were improved. The further advances during this time aimed to modify and aid the cotton industry. Two essential mechanical devices developed here were Crompton’s spinning mule and a little later Cartwright’s power loom. The key problem further industrialization faced at this time was a necessity to find something powerful enough to drive this new machinery. Other than the water wheel that hampered the marketing of the woolen and cotton goods produced. Factories could only exist where there was a constant water supply.

Further, we may point out the third period that stretched from 1792 to 1830. During this time, steam power began to be applied to the mechanical devices made earlier, making their use more productive and widespread. Additionally to using steam power to control existing mechanisms, there were Whitney’s cotton gin, Herrick’s dressing machine, and the throttle.

1830 to the early 1900’s is another period witnessed the further application of steam power to forms of transport that served in the marking of the goods produced. As a result of the invention of the steam engine trains began to become an essential element of transportation system and presented another method of transportation – the automobile transport.

Further, it would be of use to consider major inventions and transformations that were inevitable part of the Industrial revolution. We may point out numerous transformations within agriculture sphere. Another feature of the new farming appeared – the cultivation of turnips and potatoes. Jethro Tull and Lord Townshend popularized the significance of root crops. Tull’s most unique contributions were the seed drill and horse hoe. It should be noted that the seed drill allowed a much bigger proportion of the seed to germinate by planting it below the surface of the ground out of reach of the wind and birds.

Another prominent figure in the era of Industrial revolution Robert Bakewell pioneered in the field of systematic stockbreeding. Earlier, sheep had been valued for wool and cattle for strength. Bakewell showed how to breed sheep also for food quality. He was significantle successful with sheep, and before the century’s end his method of inbreeding was well established.

Within the communication sphere one of the most important inventions was the steam-powered rotary printing press (a mechanical device for printing many text copies on rectangular sheets of paper) that was actually a technological gift of the last decades of the first industrial revolution. The second industrial revolution also introduced mechanical typesetting with the Linotype and Monotype. Numerous inventions connected with communication and paper encouraged greatly the growth of technical journalism and periodicals by cheapening production costs. Inventions and their applications were much more diffuse in the second phase of the Industrial Revolution than in the previous one. This period recorded the growth of machine tools (powered mechanical device, generally used to fabricate metal components of machines by the selective removal of metal). This period also presented the assembly line for the production of consumer goods. An assembly line is a manufacturing process in which interchangeable parts are added to a product in a sequential manner to create an end product. …

We should also note that initial focus of industrialization was on textiles. Cloth was needed by almost everyone. Early textiles were produced by a “cottage industry”, the system in which a central agent would provide raw cotton and supervise the work of a range of production units. Usually individual families, farm wives and daughters, mastered one part of the process — spinning, dyeing, weaving and so forth. Moreover, the most controversial inventions of all times have taken place within the textile industry. It is obvious that human need for clothing has been a constant since the beginning of time. The loom is of ancient origin, and the first industrial invention to strengthen its productivity was the flying shuttle patented by John Kay in 1733. Due to this device there was greater production from a single loom, cloth of much greater width. Other major improvements in textile machinery were Richard Arkwright’s spinning machine and James Hargreaves’ invention of the jenny in the same year that Kay died. Actually, the chronicle of inventions within the textile industry shows how new machines improved outcome of the trade and encouraged the demand for new products. Possibly, no device could increase the demand for textile products more than the invention of the sewing machine in the middle of the l9th Century.

Another important sphere that had essential impact on the social field is home-building. Here we should mention the name of Henry Bessemer who was a man whose name we connect today with one of the significant processes of producing steel. It was Bessemer’s discovery of a process of making steel cheap, this inevitable led to its use in the industry of construction. However, the idea of the skyscraper was the due to the efforts of another inventor George A. Fuller. One of the first skyscrapers Flatiron Building in America appeared in 1902.

Electric power also received its development in the years of the Industrial revolution. Throughout the nineteenth century the utilizing of electric power was restricted by small productive capacity, short transmission lines, and also very high costs. It is also important to speak about railroads the coming thereof facilitated the further industrialization either of Europe or of the United States. Especially, with the expansion of commerce, transportation facilities for the movement of goods from the factory to the ports or cities were in demand. In Canada and the United States, railways served to link communities separated by vast distances.

As for the further advances in transportation, the First World War saw the start of commercial aviation that later has developed into civilian airlines. At the beginning of the nineteenth century the steam-driven ship appeared on the horizon. And by the 1840’s the North Atlantic was already crossed regularly by steamship.

Overall, it should be mentioned that Industrial Revolution had an enormous impact on all sides of our life. It had serious consequences in the social sphere. The Industrial Revolution represented a sharp increase in population and urbanization. New social classes have come to existence. The increase in population was rather predictable. The growth rate in England and Germany was something more than one percent annually, according to this rate the population would double in about seventy years. In the United States showed an increase in three percent, which might have been dramatic if not disastrous, had it not been for an empty continent and enormous natural resources. Only French population remained stable after the eighteenth century. It should be highlighted that general population growth was contributed by a greater supply of food made available by the Agricultural Revolution, and also by the development of medical science and public health measures which balanced the death rate.

Before the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, the majority of the world’s population was rural. Although, by the middle of the nineteenth century, half of the European and American people lived in towns and big cities. During 1800 and 1950 most large European and American cities showed considerable growth, either in social or in industrial sphere. The rapid rise of big cities can be attributed to the fact that industrialization made inevitable the concentration of a work force near plants and factories that were usually situated where coal or some other important material was available. The example thereof is the Ruhr in Germany or Lille in northern France. The appearance of the cities can also be accounted to the necessity for marketing and advertising finished goods that created big urban centers with the access to water or railways to facilitate its transportation. Such centers were Liverpool, Hamburg, and New York.

Rapid rise of the cities was not only a blessing. The factory or mining towns usually were in a form of long rows of company-built cottages, providing minimal shelter. Poor living conditions in the cities can be connected with the lack of good brick, the absence of well-established building system, and also absence of machinery for public sanitation.

As one more social effects of the Industrial revolution we may mention the appearance of a new factory-owning class of bourgeoisie. Moreover, the Industrial Revolution created a new working class. This class of simple industrial workers included all the men, women, and children working in all kinds of newly appeared industries, the textile mills, pottery works, and mines. Unfortunately, living conditions of these people were poor, wages were low, working hours were long, and working conditions unpleasant and sometimes even dangerous.

As a matter of fact we note that in the last part of the 18th century, the world experienced a new transformation that it was not actually ready for. This revolution was not of a political nature, but it led to many implications later. Neither was this a social or cultural revolution. This revolution was of economic nature. These transformations within economic sphere later were called by historians as Industrial Revolution that in fact modified the ways the world produced and produces its goods now. It also transformed our societies from an agricultural society to the society with predominance of industry and manufacturing.

During the course of the revolution, there were numerous new technological advancements on the one hand, and socioeconomic and cultural problems on the other.

It should be emphasized that along with great progress in technology, there was general downfall in the socioeconomic and cultural situation. Growth of cities was one of the major consequences of the Industrial Revolution as it has been said previously. Definitely, workers became more productive, and in view of the fact that more items were manufactured, prices decreased, making exclusive and hard-to-make-items available even to poor people and not only to the rich and elite. Life generally improved, but the industrial revolution also proved harmful. Pollution increased, working conditions were harmful, and capitalists employed women and young children, making them work long and hard hours. The industrial revolution was a time for change. For the better, or for the worse.

In addition, during the time of the Industrial revolution we may witness different international strifes taking place at this time. The American Revolution occurred within the primary stage of the Industrial Revolution. Moreover, the French Revolution was in motion at the turn of the 19th century.

The Industrial Revolution was not a good revolution for the planet. Especially its second phase. It had very severe environmental consequences. From the time of the start of the revolution, the factories and industry has increased the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere by two-folds. In the industrial long run and in our drive for consumerism, natural resources on our planet are being depleted at an alarming rate. Pollution by nuclear waste, pesticides and other chemicals are also the result of the Industrial Revolution.

But along with negative there were also positive factors. One very significant aspect is that there appeared more goods available due to mass production according to it goods also dropped significantly in prices. Along with mass production appeared new employment opportunities. Slowly but straightforwardly new inventions were leading to the improvement of quality of living. Moreover, there is still may be mentioned one aspect of the revolution and the effects thereof on present day. Without the inventions and transformations brought by Industrial revolution we would not be what we are today. Our lives would not be so tightly intervened with technology that helps us live.

If we have a look on the event of the Industrial revolution as a whole and integrated process we can see that people suffered and struggled in the beginning that is usual for any big change or transformation. But as time proceeded, we come to realization that people actually benefited more and their lives became much better. Everyone can experience in our everyday life that our work became not so tedious and due to new technologies people have extra time. Want it or no, technology and industry dominate our world, and in spite of former hardships and struggles the progress continues.


  1. David Landes, The Unbound Prometheus, 1969
  2. The History Guide. Lectures on Modern European Intellectual History. Lecture 17.The Origins of Industrial Revolution. 2001.
  3. Blackburn Through the Ages. 27 July 1997. http://www.tardis.ed.ac.uk/~sl/cotton.htm  (Last accessed March, 10  2006)
  4. Toynbee, Arnold. Lectures on The Industrial Revolution in England.1984. http://www.ecn.bris.ac.uk/het/toynbee/indrev (Last accessed March, 12)
  5. Backer, Patricia Ryaby. The Cause of the Industrial Revolution. http://www.engr.sjsu.edu/pabacker/causeIR.htm (Last accessed March,10)

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