Industrial Revolution

The Industrial Revolution refers to the time period that started in the late 1700’s in Great Britain, spreading throughout Europe and the United States, and lasting around 100 years.

It was a time of sudden expansion in the way that manufacturer’s goods were made, changing them from small local shops and homes and moving them to large factory environments.

This change altered the way people lived and where they lived as more moved away from the rural communities and into the larger cities to find work.

It was also a time that introduced new advances in manufacturing technologies that used iron and coal, new forms of transportation, and new and different lifestyles.

The Two Waves of the Industrial Revolution

There were two phases of the Industrial Revolution, the first one began in the late 1700’s and lasted to the mid-1800’s.

In this wave we see the new technologies such as the cotton gin that allowed easier and faster cotton crops, combined with steam power in use with locomotives for faster transport of products.

This increase in textile manufacturing played an important role in imports and exports.

The second Industrial Revolution phase began in the mid-1800’s and lasted to the early 1900’s.

It was during his time that we see the start of large factories using mass production for goods and additional innovations such as the production line, the widespread use of electricity, and the start of the process of Bessemer steel.

The United States becomes the Leader

The northeast New England area is credited for being the starting place for the Industrial Revolution in the U.S. Historians give credit to the 1793 opening of Slater’s Mill in Pawtucket, Rhode Island as the first official location.

As more factories began to be created, many of those in England brought their knowledge to the U.S. and started lucrative businesses. The U.S. was the most industrialized nation around the globe by the end of the 1800’s.

Industry Causes Problems

The amount of changes that happened in society occurred at a really fast rate. People were leaving the farming areas and showing up in large numbers to the cities so that they could work.

This brought rapid overcrowding, pollution, and unsanitary conditions.

The cities weren’t set up to be able to handle sheer volume of people. In many cities, the workers lived in unsafe, poor neighborhoods.

No Protection for Workers or Children

Since there weren’t any laws for pollution or any help for the poor, many people became sick. It was very common for children in families to work in sweat houses, putting in 10 hours a day in hard labor.

Working conditions were governed by the companies that ran the factories and no one was protected. It was quite common for workers, including children, to die on the job.

It took until the end of the 1900’s for the people to rise up against these practices as they formed labor unions. New laws were created to require safe working conditions and working guidelines.

Horse & Buggy Moves to Automation

Prior to the Industrial Revolution, the usual way that people traveled on land was horse and buggy and by large ships when traveling across the ocean.

This all changed with the introduction of railroads, automobiles, and steam boats. Products as well as people now had the ability to travel more quickly anywhere in the world.

Facts about the Industrial Revolution:

  • Since electricity wasn’t common, a majority of the early factories were powered by waterwheels and they had to be located near rivers.
  • The Industrial Revolution radically changed the way people got their news. Printers made use of steam power to print books and newspapers more cheaply and with better transportation, people got news faster. This also encouraged more people to learn how to read.
  • Inventors were encouraged during the Industrial Revolution and during this time we saw some of the best inventions created that we even use today. A few of these include: the practical light bulb, sewing machine, cotton gin, telephone, vulcanized rubber, and the telegraph.
  • The most important thing to happen in human history is the domestication of plants and animals. The Industrial Revolution is considered to be the second most important occurrence.
  • Capitalism was born due to the Industrial Revolution.