The London Times
1 January 1761
A Revolution in Industry
Lately a boom in advancements in industrial production has been taking place. It is being dubbed The Industrial Revolution. There has been a shift to much more modern ways of manufacturing products and materials. The process of making things by hand is giving way to using new and improved machines in factories to manufacture products. There are new and improved methods of making chemicals, textiles, and steel, and factories are beginning to burn coal instead of wood. This has led to such inventions as the steam engine, which is said to be able to power vehicles such as trains and boats.
This period of industrial growth period started right here in England in 1760 and is projected to end somewhere between 1820 and 1840. Already we have seen changes in the standard living among the common workers, not just here but in North America and other parts of Western Europe as well. However, many contradictions are evident among different workers as to the way this Industrial Revolution is affecting them. some people report higher wages and living standards, while others report the opposite. While many people are earning more in factories than they would on a farm, studies show that these wages still do not meet the minimum standard of a decent earning. The increased populations in cities have also caused a need for more housing. This need is being met by tenement housing. However, some experts say that the high population density in such dwellings is causing an increase in diseases such as tuberculosis.
Already the impact of the Industrial Revolution can be seen every day. Hunger seems to be becoming a thing of the past. Increased industrialization has allowed the cost of food to plummet, a relief for the common worker. The cost of manufactured goods is falling due to the simple fact that industrialization is allowing more products to be made in less time. More and more people are moving to cities, where new factory jobs are opening up every day. This change in industry is bringing changes to England, and the world as a whole.
Due to the current Industrial Revolution, many inventors and scientists have come forth with innovations in science and industry. Among these are James Watt, Eli Whitney, Henry Bessemer, Edward Jenner, and Louis Pasteur.
James Watt is a Scottish inventor and mechanical engineer. He was able to improve the conventional Newcomen steam engine. The past design wasted a lot of energy and was quite inefficient. Watt combatted this by adding a condenser that was separate from the rest of the engine. This made the engine more cost effective, efficient, and powerful. But Watt did not stop there. He recognized his steam engine's true potential. He recognized that by adapting it in a to include motion, it could be used as more than a water pump. His steam engine and similar designs are currently being used in steamboats and steam-powered locomotives.
Eli Whitney is an American inventor. He is responsible for making major improvements to the cotton gin. Since cotton fibers grow tightly around the seeds, it must be unravelled to get rid of the seeds. Whitney helped make this usually labor intensive task more efficient by adding teeth to the cotton gin that would allow it to comb through the fibers to remove the seeds. This has made cotton farming a much more profitable industry in America, which has made the slave industry there increase greatly.
Henry Bessemer is an English inventor. He is responsible making the steel industry more economical. Steel used to be extremely expensive to manufacture. However, Bessemer was able to come up with a process of refining steel from pig iron by pushing oxygen through it. This has made steel a more affordable material for the military. The increased steel industry has also made the town of Sheffield, England a major industrial center.
Edward Jenner is an English physician and scientist. He created the first vaccine, which happened to be for the extremely dangerous smallpox virus. He realized that cowpox is less harmful than smallpox, but can provide an immunity to the deadly disease. He tested his theory on young James Phipps by inoculating him with cowpox. After the boy got over his fever, Jenner exposed Phipps to smallpox. The boy did not contract the disease. Jenner's vaccination technique has the potential to save so many lives that he is being called "The Father of Immunology".
Louis Pasteur is a French chemist and microbiologist. He is best known for his process of pasteurization. This process involves heating perishable foods and beverages to very high temperatures and cooling them quickly while sealed. This kills any harmful bacteria in the food without letting any in. Pasteur is also credited with developing vaccines for the harmful diseases rabies and anthrax, and coming up with the Germ Theory of Diseases which states that bacteria come are caused by fermentation and biogenesis, not spontaneous generation, and that they can cause diseases.
A modern steam engine
The Consequences of Progress
By Tulane SimpsonMany new technologies and innovations are emerging right now during this Industrial Revolution. The effects of these innovations can be either positive or negative.
The introduction of the improved steam engine and steam locomotive has caused a more people to be able to migrate to cities for work. Before, people lived and worked on farms in the country. Now, factory workers are able to be paid more regular salaries as opposed to farm laborers who are often not sure exactly how much they should be paid. The steam locomotive is also being used to transport goods long distance, which allows goods to be sold in more areas. However, the coal that these steam engines burn is creating smoke that is polluting the environment and lowering the air quality. While the invention of the cotton gin allows more cotton textiles to be produced in a shorter amount of time, it has increased the need for African slave labor in the United States. Bessemer steel is reducing the labor needs for steel production. The railroads that are made out of Bessemer steel are much stronger and longer lasting than those with iron rails. However, steel mill workers work as many as twelve hours a day in often dangerous conditions.
Two examples of resoundingly positive innovations from the Industrial Revolution include the development of the smallpox, anthrax, and rabies vaccines and pasteurization. The vaccines that are being developed right now are in such high demand because the high concentration of people in cities means that diseases will spread very quickly now. Pasteurization is allowing foods to be shipped longer distances, which adds to the increase in commerce.
Only time will tell what the long term effects of all these modernizations will be.
Our Modern Society
Even with all of this modernization, there are still many drawbacks. Child labor is on the rise. Young children are needed to support their families by working in factories. In contrast, urban women are expected to stay home and tend to the home while their husbands (and children) go off to work in factories, whereas on farms the whole family would often work in the fields together. Meanwhile, the owners of the factories are making large sums of money and paying their workers very little.
Also, a new caste in society is beginning to emerge. For centuries, the only two levels of society have been the wealthy, privileged aristocrats and the underprivileged peasants. Now there appears to be a middle class in urban areas. Those who work as shop keepers, teachers, and bank clerks. These people can hire help and servants, but still live off of a weekly or monthly wage. So now instead of nobility and peasants, there are the factory owners, middle class, and the factory workers.
Society is changing very rapidly without a doubt, but it is nearly impossible to tell if it is for better or worse.