The industrial revolution was a revolutionary time that shifted the economy from countryside and handicrafts to machines and industries. The revolution began in Britain in the 18th century and later spread in other parts of the world. Dated back to before the revolution, life in Britain was very miserable. People were badly influenced by the Kingdom domains. There were two classes of people: upper and lower class. The upper class was enjoying all the pleasures of life while depriving the lower one even from their basic needs of life. Their standard of living was far below the poverty line. Moreover, getting an education was only a dream for poor people and it was only considered for the elite people, the upper class. Besides all, there was no concept of technology. People were using the ways of their fore-father for daily earning.
Furthermore, women were only confined to the door of the house. Their job was only restricted to the kitchen and raising children. More inhumanly, they were kept in such a house having no doors and windows. Men were only considered to be the breadwinner and to feed their families. Their job was mainly working in the farms and making hand-crafted goods. Labor’s wages were far below the work they were doing. They were treated like animals. Moreover, the lives of the people start changing. More people shifted to cities to have work in the factories and industries. The family and rural life were ruined and in large numbers, urbanization occurred.
First Industrial Revolution
The period of the first industrial revolution was from 1760 to 1830 and was only confined to Britain. At that time, the British monopoly was not allowing machinery, skilled workers, and other techniques to export. But they did not last for a long time. Later, when they sensed the opportunities abroad then they start exporting machinery and other materials. First of all two Englishmen, William and John Cockerill brought the revolution to Belgium by building machine shops at Liege. Just like Britain, they brought a revolution in the industries of Belgium in coal, iron, and textile. So in this way, Belgium, the first European country, has brought the industrial revolution.
France at that time has unstable political leadership and was grabbed by the revolution that was started in 1789, the French Revolution. As Britain’s rival, they do want to have an industrial economy but their instability was discouraging the investors. Later, they had industrial power in 1848 but were behind Britain. Other European countries were lagged because of their political condition and the weak economy. Germany despite its enormous resources of coal and iron had begun their industrialization in 1870 after the national unity. Once they stepped in they left behind their counterpart Britain in steel production and became the leader in the chemical industries. Similarly, countries like the US, USSR, China, and India began their industrialization in the 19th and 20th centuries. Also, Japan entered into the race with a sticking force.
Second Industrial Revolution
The second industrial revolution was mainly started in the late 19th and early 20th century and was largely concerned with the automation of the factories with the inventions of machines, computers, and other tools. Although, up to some extent automation of factories and industries was already achieved in the early 19th century but the major achievement was done in the second half of the 20th century.
The exploitation of natural and synthetic resources: lighter metals, new alloys, and other plastic materials, which were not used before were started with the modern industries. Similarly, the oligarchic system was started to ruin with the purchasing of common stocks by individuals, institutes, and insurance companies. The laissez-faire concept of the economy was changing to the social and economic domain. In short, European countries were socializing their economies.
Seven Years War
The war fought between Britain with its allies against France and its allies are remembered as seven years war. It was started in 1756 and ends in 1763. The war started from a regional conflict between Great Britain and France. It was the fourth war fought between them in a century, 1689. The war ended with the victory of Great Britain and a humiliating defeat to France.
Although the war was won by Great Britain at the same time they were facing severe financial and geo-political problems. They have lost the manpower and there was a dire need of someone to protect and govern the vast area they had won. Canada and areas of the Mississippi River were now under the control of the British. The people living in the former colonies of France including; Indians and French-Catholics were not in favor to live under the British Crown and follow English common law. Also, Britain was dropped into the depth of the financial crisis.
Before the industrial revolution, men were the head of the family, and women were only limited to the houses and their core job was to raise children and holding of the kitchen. They were only used for pleasure-seeking. Most of the families were living in the farms where they were working to survive. With time, the situation for women was getting worst. The industrial revolution shifted men from farms to industries, where they started earning money. But the problem arises when men got busy in the war against France and also come up with a lot of casualties. After the Britain-France war, there was a shortage of manpower. It was getting hard for the families of those people to live under such circumstances. There was a dire need for someone that can earn their daily bread. So, in this way, women came out of their homes and start working shoulder to shoulder with men.
But they also faced a lot of humiliation. They started working in factories, industries, and coal mines. Now, women were suffering more as compared to the past. They were now performing double duties at a time; taking care of the house, raising children, and also, they have to work in the factories. The families were ruined. Moreover, there working condition was dangerous and unhealthy. The high rate of illiteracy was also a big hurdle as per the requirement of work. Similarly, men were giving supremacy and have high wages for the same work that women were doing. The owner of the industries and factories were also manipulating women to fulfill their desires. According to the need of an hour, families were now dependent on women’s wages. They were getting stronger with time as they have the economic power in their hands.
Not all of the works done by a child come in the circle of child labor. Labor that do not affect their health, schooling, and personal development are not be classified as child labor but have positive effects. According to the above definition, at that time in Britain, there was no education for poor people and their children. Similarly, during the industrial revolution, Pauper apprentices and Scavengers were the core job of children which was also disastrous for their health. In such circumstances, they were living far away from their homes and were living miserable lives.
Child labor is also the production of the industrial revolution. According to studies, their working hours were inflexible and also range from 14 hours a day to about 70 hours a week. The condition where they were working was also unhealthy and dangerous for their physical and mental health. Many of the children in their teenage lost their lives, legs, mentally distorted, and crushed under machines and other gas explosions. Furthermore, if a child remained safe from machines there supervisors take that responsibility by beating and torturing them. If they tried to escape: they were chained.
Before the industrial revolution, going to schools for children, adults, and women was a dream. The main reasons were that the elite class was not allowing the poor people to get an education. Education was only considered for the upper class. Second, the lower class was very poor and education was not free that was the main reason that they cannot afford the expenditure of schooling. Rather than sending their children to schools, they were put to work to earn for their living. Most of the adults and children don’t know how to read and write.
With time, the situation has been changed. During and after the industrial revolution, the life of the common people was changing. They were getting money and their economic condition was getting better and better. The government has started giving opportunities for getting education by passing Acts and improving schools in the country. Getting education became compulsory and was of the view that with education the country could be more developed and prosperous. They built libraries and night school institutes to give education to those that work in the daytime. There every law was surrounding getting their people education.
Urbanization in Britain took place after the industrial revolution. Before the revolution, most of the people were living in the countryside, and mainly their job was farming. They earn their daily bread by working in the field and were producing. They were living a simple life and following the footprints of their forefathers and the techniques they have left behind. However, after the industrial revolution, the whole course of the working was changed.
The rural and family life was ruined. Men who were considered the head of the family shifted to work in the industries in the cities. They have to live away from their dear ones. Production and cultivation of farms have been stopped and started cooperating with machines. Once earning enough money, they had shifted their whole families to cities. With time, the ratio of people living in rural areas was decreasing and the cities were getting populated.
Inventions of the Industrial Revolution
The industrial revolution has paved the way for many of the inventions that were a trademark in history. Many machines were invented that enhances human efforts and brought fastness in the production. Following are some of the major inventions that came during the industrial revolution.
Spinning and Weaving
The invention of such machines helped in the mass production of cotton and woolen thread that made Great Britain the top manufacturer of textiles. Following are the machines that enhance production.
The Spinning Jenny
The spinning jenny was invented by James Hargreaves in 1764, which was living in Lancashire, England. He was a spinner and weaver and was uneducated. This new machine was capable of drawing thread from eight spindles at a time that was just one by traditional way.
The water Frame
The water frame was producing a large quantity of thread than the prior one. It was invented in 1769 by Richard Arkwright. The water frame was powered by the water wheel. Unlike spinning jenny, it required larger space and also a fast-running stream.
The Spinning Mule
The spinning mule was a combination of the spinning jenny and water frame. It was designed by Samuel Crompton in 1779. It was capable of working on more than 1000 spindles, producing fine coarse yarn, and was operated by a single person.
The Steam Engine
During the revolution, there were also some of the important inventions in the steam engines. This was the startup of the automobile industry and helped a lot in the transportation of people and goods. Some of its important inventions are given below.
Watt’s Steam Engine
Steam engines were used to drive out water from a mine, which was improved in 1765 by Scottish inventor James Watt. He added a condenser to increase its efficiency. Later in 1781, its motion was changed from ups and downs to rotating a shaft. It was mainly used in iron mills, distilleries, and paper and flour mills.
The stream Locomotive
In 1803, Richard Trevithick invented the steam railway locomotive. Trevithick generated a greater power engine that drives a barge by turning paddle wheels. Active was the first steam-powered locomotive that carried passengers.
Steamboats and Steamships
It was designed by an American engineer Robert Fulton in 1807. Mainly, it was used in the 18th and 19th centuries in Britain, France, and America. In 1819, the steam power ship carries passengers from Savannah by an American sailing ship.
By the early 19th century, European and American scientists first found the relationship between electricity and magnetism. From there they came up to use the electromagnetic phenomena practically. Following are their main achievements.
Electric motors and Generators
A British scientist Michael Faraday found experimentally that passing an electric current through a coil of a magnet having poles of a magnet cause the coil to turn around. That turning of the coil generates electricity in the coil. The phenomena become the base for electric motors that generate mechanical energy from electrical and the second was used in dynamo that generates electricity from mechanical energy.
Electric railways and Tramways
The electric railway was first demonstrated by German engineer Werner Von Siemens in 1879. Later in the 20th century, these rails started operating in different cities of Britain and among several countries in Europe. The London’s underground electric train system was first started in 1890
The Telegraph and Telephone
The communication that we do today is the production of the industrial revolution in Britain in the 19th century. The electric telephone and the telegraph made communication possible over great distances. It has its influence on diplomacy, journalism, military operation, etc.
The electric telegraph was first invented in Britain and America simultaneously in 1837. The British inventors William Fothergill Cooke and Charles Wheatstone pointing a needle to specific letters and numbers to be printed when an electric current passes through it. A telegraph line was laid between Baltimore and Washington D.C and was completed in 1844. The first message sent through it was, “What hath God wrought!”
A Scottish-born American scientist named Alexander Graham Bell successfully invented the telephone that was able to send sound, including the human voice, in 1876. It was composed of two membrane and electromagnetic coils. The sound waves produced at one membrane pass with the help of current through the coil and produce a sound of the same frequency at the other membrane. The first call took place between two rooms of bell’s laboratory.
To sum up the whole discussion, the revolution was a time that keeps a significant role in the history of Great Britain, subsequently of the whole world. The revolution is a landmark of today’s technology. It was also like a resurrection for the lower class that put an end to the kingdom domain. The lower class start rising with time and all their worries and difficulties were going to an end. Their standard of living was getting better and more people became educated. The social and economical condition of the country was becoming better. Moreover, Europe and especially Britain became the hub of these technological inventions and paved their way for becoming the civilized and advanced country that we see today.