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It has been called the "Western Miracle" and the "European Miracle," but it is commonly known as the Industrial Revolution. During the later half of the 1700's and to the beginning of the 20th century, The European continent and North America went through some amazing changes. These changes did not involve politics, but centered on economics and a new way of business in the U.S. They would also bring a new way of life for the middle and lower classes. These changes are no referred to as the Industrial Revolution, and it brought forth a new way of producing goods. It changed the face of our nation from and agricultural emphasis to one of industry and mass production of processed goods, which in turn changed how the country would look at work places and how workers were treated.
Great Britain gave birth to this whole concept of industry while it was also the strongest power in the modern world. This was a revolution that could first only be started by a very powerful country. The U.S., France, and Germany would soon follow in the footsteps of Great Britain. With the introduction of this new huge concept, society took a turn toward complexity and the rural lifestyle which dominated these countries heard its "two-minute warning." The improved economic power of an industrialized society also created complex new problems would have to be tackled.
Compared with what it had been a century before then, the standard of living of the British people in 1850 was higher on the average and a great deal more varied. Compared with their contemporaries in other countries, the British people enjoyed a richer and more varied standard of living as a result of industrialization. Estimates of average national income per head suggest that they were then the most affluent people in the world. Rates of growth are the final signs that a country underwent an industrial revolution. Population, national output and incomes per head were all growing faster than they had done in the pre-industrial era and they were growing continuously. For industrial production the peak rate of growth was reached in the 1920's and the 1830's. For exports the peak rate came in the period 1846-1856, when the volume of British domestic exports more than doubled in less than a decade.
Britain couldn't have supported an industrial revolution without the help of the railroads. In 1830 England had approximately twenty thousand miles of turnpike roads. There were also 4670 miles of canals and improved rivers. The decade after 1830 witnessed the building of many short stretches of important lines, and by 1840 nearly eight hundred miles of railroad had been built in England. A veritable railroad mania swept the country; by 1850 over six thousand miles were built in Great Britain and, by 1879, fifteen thousand miles. Concurrently with the railroad construction a network of telegraph wires spread over Europe, to bring people into still more immediate touch, and to make of Europe, and then the world, a single market. In 1843 the first electric telegraph line in England was opened between Paddington and Slough; in 1851 a submarine cable was laid between England and France; and in 1866, after several earlier attempts had failed, Cyrus Field laid the first transatlantic cable.
Britain's colonial empire allowed the country to make a revolution toward mass production and quantities. Britain controlled much of the sugar islands of the West Indies. Britain also drove the French from the fur-bearing area of America and strengthened her hold on the Newfoundland fishing banks. England thus was in a position to experience the most effective reactions from colonial trade and supplies, and presently certain industries found themselves unable to meet the demands for goods made upon them unless fundamental changes in organization and technique were made.
One of the most famous technological advancements was that of steam power, and more exact, the steam engine which made the railroad possible, but also catalyzed changed in the manufacturing plants. The world was also finding methods of fuel for energy, such as coal and petroleum. This revolutionized many industries including textiles and manufacturing. Also, a new communication medium was invented called the telegraph. This made communicating across the ocean much faster. Though technology was thriving, it was at the cost of the socioeconomic status of the general population, which was falling. One consequence was the birth of large cities with massive housing. Many people were driven to the cities to look for work. In turn, they ended up living in the cities that could not support them. This new revolution also brought forth the idea of a materialistic society, which we still have today. This made people and families consume more than was needed and whatever they could get. Small wages made it so that every member of a family that was able had to work, even small children.
The industrial revolution could not have happened without the contribution of the financing and banking industry. The chief contribution of the banks to the industrial revolution consisted in the mobilizing of short-term funds and their transfer from areas where there was little demand for them to others that were hungry for capital. It meant that in effect that rural England was providing foodstuffs for the growing urban communities without requiring an immediate return. Industrial was then able to use its own resources to put up factories and construct canals and railways which benefited manufacturing and agricultural areas alike.
The Industrial Revolution was not beneficial to the environment, and harmed it in many ways... From its beginning, carbon dioxide was created in massive amounts. While our world focused on the benefits of manufacturing, our natural resources were also being sacrificed, hurting the agricultural societies. Samual Slater was the one man credited with bringing the revolution from Great Britain to the U.S. He believed the textile industry would soon level off in his homeland, and took his chances with him to a young industrial society in America. While others with textile manufacturing experience had emigrated before him, Slater was the first to use his earlier experience and knowledge to benefit his business and be successful. Slater, with funding from Providence investors, built the first successful water powered textile mill in Pawtucket in 1793. Working conditions in a factory soon took a sharp turn for the worse during the late 1800's. Immigration to major metropolitan cities in the U.S. was at an all time high. Since they were desperate for work at almost any wage to stay alive, industry owners saw this as an opportunity to save money on labor. They were paid slave wages and worked the immigrants to death. Hours were many too long, working conditions were often unsafe, and workers had no voice if they were not happy with their work in any way. Children as young as five or six would do any job they could that would bring the family an added flow of money. No laws prevented factories from using these children during the early industrial era. Severe punishments awaited young children that were late for work. If children arrived late for work they would also have money deducted from their wages. Since wages were so low, many families could not afford any device to keep time. In some factories workers were not allowed to carry a watch. The children suspected that this rule was an attempt to trick them out of some of their wages. William Hutton in 1816 wrote:."..the ground was again caught by a frost, which glazed the streets. I did not awake, the next morning, till daylight seemed to appear. I rose in tears, for fear of punishment, and went to my father's bedside, to ask the time. He believed six; I darted out in agonies, and from the bottom of Full Street, to the top of Silk mill Lane, not 200 yards, I fell nine times! Observing no lights in the mill, I knew it was an early hour, and the reflection of the snow had deceived me. Returning, the town clock struck two."
The youngest children in the textile factories were usually employed in a position known as scavengers. These children would be required to pick up loose product from under machinery, such as cotton. The main danger in this was that the bosses would not turn off the machine while children did this job, and made it very hazardous. Owners were, however, required to feed their children workers and apprentices. Children constantly complained about the quality of the food. In most work environments, children had no break to eat, and had to eat and work at the same time. Children would work long hours and become run-down, unable to carry out their tasks at an optimal level. Children would be whipped and physically harmed in order to keep them working at full speed. In some factories children were dipped head first into the water if they became drowsy; owners believed this would…[continue]
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