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6.2 The First Industrial Revolution

#industrialeurope

⏱️  4 min read

written by

Sharii Liang

sharii liang

May 12, 2020


The OG Industrialized Country

In 1776, Adam Smith would write a book known as The Wealth of Nations. His novel would be the beginning of a new economic system known as capitalism and the free market. This idea of supply and demand driving the economy instead of the government being involved would eventually be adapted when investors began popping up with an increased interest in new technology and methods of production. Their money would help fuel the revolution, and political/social stability allowed the government to step back and allow the people to take control.

https://i.ibb.co/t2bpYmf/Screen-Shot-2020-03-08-at-7-37-54-PM.png

After the Agricultural Revolution, the world’s population increased exponentially. To show the correlation between food supply and population, Thomas Malthus created his Theory of Population (graph on the left!). However, the passing of the Enclosure Acts in England during this revolution kicked peasants off of their farms and left them without an occupation. This, combined with the rising and healthy population, led to a surplus of labor looking for work that could be found in the cities. 

An abundance of natural resources, such as coal, iron, wood, and water, being found inside the island of England was the match that kickstarted the First Industrial Revolution. They would go on to become the center of the First Industrial Revolution and a model for other countries to follow.

Natural Resources?  ✓

Surplus of Labor?  ✓ Investment & Money? ✓ 🔜🔜🔜 INDUSTRIALIZATION! 

Effects of Government Support

While investors and entrepreneurs played a large part in the creation of factories and new inventions, the government also got involved. Industrialization was making big bucks, and much of the effort was being led through private effort. Seeing how lucrative industrialization was for the country, the British Parliament sought to promote industrial and commercial interests. 🤑💰💰

To do this, Parliament would invest in innovation and transportation and repeal the Corn Laws in order to please the industrialists and urban workers. Inventors would often receive monetary rewards for new innovations to encourage them, and new methods of transportation, such as the railroad and canals, would be built by the government. 🚂

England was “a bit” of a bragger. In 1851, they would host the Great Exhibition at the Crystal Palace (not actually crystal or a palace). It was a major success, a shining example of the wonders of industrialization. Obviously, countries would try to follow in their footsteps, but England was “a bit” selfish. They prohibited inventors from leaving the country, but many sneaked out anyways. 💁‍♂️ Their services were much more in demand in non-industrialized nations. 💰💰

Disrupting & Improving Life

With all progress comes change, and this change uprooted many farmers and textile workers. New technology meant that their jobs were easier to perform and the cost of making products compared to the output of finished goods was significantly cheaper than going through the cottage system

This disruption forced many to move to the city to work for low wages in extraordinarily unhealthy conditions. In response to this sudden loss of work, one faction of textile workers called themselves the Luddites. They were angry people who protested against the use of machinery and even broke some machines but that did little to stop industrialization. 

New inventions improved the quality of life for all people, even those in the cities. Food could be produced more efficiently for less effort, and people could get to areas in less than half the time through the use of railroads and canals. Many items became a commodity and available to all due to how easy it was to produce them. However, the dirty conditions of the cities offset some of these improvements, especially for the working classes.

🎥 Watch: AP Europe - Industrial Revolution

Invention 

Inventor

Effect

Power Loom

Edmund Cartwright

Sped up the weaving process of textiles

Spinning Jenny

James Hargreaves

Allowed for cotton to spun faster and into better quality cloth

Steam Engine

Thomas Newcomen

Used water to generate steam and powered railroads, factories, etc

Cotton Gin

Eli Whitney

Allowed cotton to be more efficiently removed from the seed 

Copycats and Countries That Can’t

Industrialization practically made large amounts of fertile land worthless compared to factories that were not okay in Southern and Eastern Europe. Nations that continued to use primitive farming techniques would, coincidentally, face famine, debt, and fertile land shortages. Potato Famine and the Hungry 40s incoming! 💀💀

Seeing the success of England’s industrialization, other countries wanted that sweet money for themselves. However, England kept the blueprints and knowledge of their inventors a secret to all. That is... until many inventors snuck out of the country and fled to places like France and America with the blueprints of their inventions memorized. 

Countries like France and America quickly followed suit due to their abundance of natural resources and government support. Unlike England, they were much more gradual and much more careful with upsetting the traditional methods of production.

Other places, such as Italy and Russia, failed to follow suit due to a combination of factors. Serfdom meant that agriculture was still a large part of the peoples’ lives, and the government did not give enough support to those who did want to industrialize. Those who were in power were also in power due to the large amount of land they owned. 

Western Europe

Eastern Europe 

  • Industrialized or Trying to Be

  • Good geography

  • Government support

  • Wayyy more money

  • Power is held by factory owners

  • Not Industrialized

  • Bad geography

  • Lack of government support

  • Serfdom

  • Power is held by landowners

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