The Industrial Revolution

London Times

By: Kayla Sriver

What was the Industrial Revolution, and where did it begin?

The Industrial Revolution began in the 18th century in England, and it was the time of a great increase in the output of machine-made goods. Before this time, almost all jobs were performed solely by hand, but new inventions made it possible to get things done by machine. After it's beginnings in England, the Industrial Revolution spread to Continental Europe and North America.

The majority of England's land used to be covered in farmland, but during the 1700's this land was bought by wealthy landowners and they used it to improve farming techniques. This was the beginning of the Industrial Revolution. The reason this started in England was because of the large deposits of coal and iron ore, and they were politically stable. They were also the worlds leading colonial power at this time. They could provide raw materials as well as manufactured goods. Besides farming, one of the biggest innovations of the Industrial Revolution was the textile industry as well as the first factory and new forms of transportation. New jobs were popping up all over and houses were being built. As these jobs opened up, more and more people moved into the city. The higher classes were better off and their living conditions were even improved, but I can't say the same for the poor and working classes. Houses were being built, but there were very cramped living conditions. They gained a very little salary and the jobs were extremely dangerous. Children worked as well and were used for highly dangerous tasks. Many craftsmen lost their jobs to a machine that took their place. Because of overcrowding, the living conditions were polluted and unsanitary leading to the spread of many diseases. Although conditions were poor, the end result was amazing and led to the expanding of inventions and greater job opportunities and lives. Industrialization was well established in the rest of Europe and North America by the mid 19th century. And by the early 20th century, America became the world's leading industrial nation.

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Who Were the First Inventors, and What Were Their Inventions?

In 1712, Thomas Newcomen invented the first steam engine. Although it wasn't very useful at the time, his idea of using steam to power machines was spread and further developed later down the road. In 1764, probably coined as the first and most important invention of the revolution, James Hargreaves invented the spinning jenny. At this time, "Jenny" was short for engine. Hargreaves was a carpenter and weaver from England who thought that there must be a faster way to make clothing. During the time before the revolution, the average working person was lucky to have one or two shirts. The spinning jenny was able to spin more than one ball of yarn at a time making it more efficient to make cloth and textiles. In 1769 the earlier mentioned steam engine was brought back by James Watt. He improved the original and made a more efficient steam engine. This was another very important invention of this era. It ended up powering the first trains, steamboats, and factories. In 1794, the textile industry is further expanded and the gotten gin is invented by Eli Whitney. Whitney was born in Massachusetts and even studied at Yale before becoming one of the greatest inventors of the Industrial Revolution. The cotton gin separated the cotton seeds from the fiber in a more efficient manner. It reduced the amount of time it took to clean cotton and increased income on cotton crops in the south. In 1796, Edward Jenner invented the smallpox vaccine. In 1844, Samuel Morse invented the telegraph. This was a message that could be sent over wire. The way to send a message was through a language called Morse code, which Samuel co-invented. In 1846, Elias Howe invented the sewing machine. Because of this invention, clothes could also be made in large factories. In 1855, Henry Bessemer invented a process where steel can be made out of iron. In 1870, Louis Pasteur develops vaccines for diseases. Pasteur was a chemist who believed the cause of disease was germs, so he used this information to create vaccines that cured many common diseases and resulted in longer life-spans. In 1876, Alexander Graham Bell patents the telephone. He didn't necessarily invent it, but he developed and patented it. This invention greatly changed communication, and the telephone, along with many other inventions created during the Industrial Revolution, are being expanded upon and used today.

How did their inventions change the way people did things? Were the changes positive, negative, or both?

As soon as these new inventions began to pick up steam, this is when we start to see a change. Before the Industrial Revolution, most workers were farmers or craftsmen who did their work by hand and jobs would go by very slowly. Soon after farming methods were enhanced, and machines were made for producing textiles efficiently, the lives of the people changed drastically. People who used to live out in the countryside for farming jobs starting moving into the city for a job in the industry. As small towns grew into cities, there was an increase in the demand of manufactured good. People began working in factories and with machines. The factory system was developed in the 1800's and greatly changed the way people worked. Employers rarely their workers because they no longer worked side by side. This was also because they started to care less about their workers' welfare and more about the cost of their labor. People were angry at these changes, one of the reasons being that they used to take pride in their handicraft skills and now those were all taken away and replaced by machines. No one was set apart by their skills any longer and instead they were all classified as common laborers. When times got rough it was easy to lose your job and be replaced by another worker. Women were also allowed to work, but were pushed harder for less pay then the men. Factory owners began to continuously decrease the pay to lower the cost and price of products. Children were forced to work as well and given the most dangerous jobs. They got sick easier and couldn't be looked after by their moms like they were used to.

Along with these dangerous working conditions, living in the city wasn't much of a step up. There were overcrowding problems which led to unsanitary and all around poor living conditions as well as the spread of many diseases. The middle and lower classes kept moving into the city and worsened these issues. There was no work out in the country, so the only way they could live was to move into the city and find a job. They got very little money and their living conditions only worsened. It was a very bad time for people to live in these filthy cities, but as time went on, living conditions gradually became better as well as communication and transportation. People were able to move to different cities faster, and this even helped the spread of cities and the colonies. By the end, vaccines were being invented and public health was an issue that was starting to be covered and acted upon. Communication to other sides of the country became easier and everything slowly started to fall into place.

How Was Society Changed by Each Invention?

Before the Industrial Revolution, making clothes took a very long time because everything was by hand. Most people only had a few pieces of clothing and the majority of jobs were on a farm or being a craftsman. When the textile industry was developed and inventions like the spinning jenny were created, this all changed. Because of this invention, clothes could be made faster and more efficient. People didn't have to spend hours every single day getting only a small amount of cotton threaded. There were more jobs and everyone started to move into the city because jobs on the farm weren't needed as much anymore. This was basically the start of the Industrial Revolution. A few years later, the steam engine, which was introduced earlier but unsuccessful, was innovated. There was now a form of transportation that was faster than a horse or a wooden ship. The steam engine powered trains, boats, factories, and many more. Trips that used to take weeks would only take a few days on a train. This resulted in and increase and quicker growth in urban population. The cotton gin was later invented expanding the textile industry even further and providing more opportunities. Men, women, and children were all working in these big factories. The jobs in these factories were very dangerous, especially for the children, but the families couldn't afford not to employ their children. Money was scarce and the wages were low. The people, including the children, worked as much as 16 hours a day and lived in unsanitary conditions due to overcrowding. Because these inventions took place of manmade products, the only jobs at the time were these jobs in the factories. In the late 1700's and the 1800's vaccines were developed. The first one was the smallpox vaccine, invented by Edward Jenner, and later came vaccines for common diseases, invented by Louis Pasteur. This began to come to the rescue in public health issues and the high spread of diseases caused by overpopulation and factory settings. Later, in the late 1800's, Alexander Graham Bell patented the telephone. The telegram had already been invented but was not commonly used by the people. The telephone allowed people to have conversations with someone cities away without waiting days or weeks for their message to get to them. Information was spread quicker and the people were way more up to date on news. All of these inventions caused a great change in the world and continued to spread afterwards. These inventions and many more are still used today and are still shaping our culture and society.