The Industrial Revolution

Written by Nathan Shellberg

What is the Industrial Revoluton?

The Industrial Revolution is a period of time in which technological advancements and innovations were aplenty. It all began in England in the 1800s, and eventually spread to America during the Reconstruction Era and all across the world. The Industrial Revolution made the populations in major cities skyrocket as farmers from the countryside went to the cities to work in the factories that kept popping up due to the availability of jobs and better pay. The process of moving from the country to the city is also called urbanization. New machines increased the output of those factories, making goods cheaper and cheaper. Also, there was the creation of the middle class, made up of people like doctors who weren't wealthy, but could still live comfortably.

For all of the good things that the Industrial Revolution brought, there were also bad things. Whole families of workers lived in shacks that only had one room. Disease would tear through the slums. Men, women, and children were all injured or killed in factories due to there being no safety regulations. Population growth in the cities caused people to cram together and live in poor housing. There was no concern for the environment, so it was essentially ruined. The advancements made during the Industrial Revolution didn't come without costs.

The Inventions and Inventors

James Watt- A mathematical instrument maker for the University of Glasgow in Scotland. While not the first to build the steam engine, he did improve on it greatly. His improvements made the steam engine the best and most efficient way to power factories and modes of transportation.

Eli Whitney- An American inventor who created the cotton gin. The cotton gin sped up the process of getting the seeds out of cotton exponentially, thus lowering the cost of making clothes.

Henry Bessemer- An English inventor who improved upon the steelmaking process. He made the city of Sheffield into a major manufacturing center in England.

Edward Jenner- An English physician and scientist who created the world's first vaccine. Smallpox was running rampant in his native Great Britain, so Jenner set out to eradicate it. Even with Parliament banning the use of a vaccination to cure Smallpox, he pushed through with the support of his colleagues and the King. He is now known as the Father of Immunology.

Louis Pasteur- A French microbiologist and chemist, he created a way to keep wine and milk from souring for a long period of time. He is also know for creating the vaccination for rabies, and his experiments supporting the Germ Theory of Diseases.

Inventions' Effect on People

The Industrial Revolution and the inventions that came with it changed the lives of people all across the world. Former farmers and their families moved into the cities for jobs at the factory. Each family member would work a ridiculous amount of hours, ranging from 12 to 18, due to England not having any regulations on factory labor. Working families rarely saw each other anymore, as the women and children would also work. Families were torn apart due to the unsafe conditions in the factories, losing mothers or fathers or even children to industrial accidents. The living conditions for working families were also terrible. They would live in large slums near the factories in shacks that had only one room. Disease would run rampant through the slums regularly. The working class was not well off at all.

A new class of individuals was brought on by the Industrial Revolution called the middle class. It was made up of factory owners and business men. The larger the Industrial Revolution grew, the more powerful the middle class became. With the prices of manufactured goods dropping tremendously, they were able to afford said goods with ease and live comfortably. They had much better housing than the working class which led to less disease, and with the sudden need for education they formed schools, universities, and libraries. Their population grew due to the better conditions that they lived in. Them, along with the upper class, benefited greatly from the Industrial Revolution.

Another effect on people include the working class' involvement in labor unions. Labor unions fought (and eventually won) against the unfair and unsafe conditions in the factories. Strikes against factories owners were a regular thing, and many workers lost their jobs because of it. A worker could be fired for even joining a union.

The effects on the people were both positive and negative. The upper and middle classes benefited from the Industrial Revolution, while the working class suffered.

Effects on Society.

Along with the creation of labor unions, who pushed for better working conditions and more fair pay, there were many other effects from the Industrial Revolution on society itself. Urbanization was one of those. Before the Industrial Revolution, many people lived out in the countryside, most of them being farmers, but when it began they all moved to the cites. Small towns that sat on natural resources soon became booming industrial cities. One famous example is the city of Manchester. Due to its temperate climate and location, it was a perfect place for textile manufacturing. The population in Manchester jumped from 22,000 people to nearly 180,000 in 5 years. Large cities like London and Paris grew even bigger to the point that some sections in the cities, particularly where the working class lived, was overcrowded. This also caused disease to spread rather easily. Urbanization was both good and bad.

Also changing was transportation and care for the environment. Inventions like the steam engine brought on faster and more efficient ways to travel. Steamships could move faster in the water and not have to depend on the wind to guide it. Horse-drawn carriages were still popular, but soon enough the car was invents, which allowed faster movement on the ground. Also being improved were the railways. Trains, powered by steam engines, transported resources and goods quickly. And then there's the environment. With everybody focusing on working and making money, and with careless practices from the factories, the environment was essentially overlooked and hurt pretty badly. Trees were cut down, rivers polluted, and the smoke from factories would release dangerous gasses into the air, in some cases smog would even envelop a city. The environment was not taken care of at all.

A new class also emerged from the Industrial Revolution called the middle class. Made up of factory owners and other professionals, they lived comfortably in good living conditions. These living conditions reduced the chance of disease, and with n o family member having to work the dangerous machinery in the factories, the population of the middle class grew greatly.

The effects on society were both positive and negative. Positive being the great technological advancements help push the world's economy forward into a new age, and labor movements eventually helped make factories safer to work in. Negative because of all of the damage done to the environment in the process, and the many people who died either to disease, overcrowding and starvation, or accidents in the factories.