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Industrial Revolution

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Agriculture History
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The Steam Engine - Invented By James Watt - 1769
The Industrial Revolution was a period of significant change that started in the mid 17th century in Britain before spreading to the United States and the rest of Europe in the following century.[1] It was called a “revolution” because the world underwent major changes in industrial organization and processes that transformed the very nature work and social relationships. All of these changes were interconnected and brought about by “cause and effect”—developments and changes in one area quickly sparked development and changes in another. One of the most fundamental transformations during the Industrial Revolution was the mechanization of work—manual labour was replaced with the use of machines. 

Contents

[edit] History

[edit] The Growth of Industry: Agriculture & Textile Manufacturing

Rapid developments in agriculture in the mid 17th century led to changes prompting the advent of the Industrial Revolution. This period in history has been referred to as the Agricultural Revolution. Before the Agricultural Revolution, agricultural practices were mainly rooted in subsistence and in providing a steady stream of raw material for a “cottage” textile industry.

Several key developments in agricultural however led to an increase in the production of food and raw materials such as cotton and wool. These included the introduction of new crops and agricultural techniques like four crop rotation, the mechanization of labour with machines, and the selective breeding of livestock. Livestock once slaughtered before the cold set in could be fed a diet of turnips or other root vegetable grown using the four crop rotation method. A larger livestock inventory on farms gave farmers the opportunity to experiment with selective breeding techniques. Energy was also being invested into insect control, better irrigation and farming practices. The invention of sturdier farming implements such as the seed drill, reaper and plough devised of metal instead of wood mechanized farm labour. All these changes and others led to not only an increase in the food supply chain but greater yields of wool and cotton for textile manufacturing. 

Prior to the Industrial Revolution textile manufacturing existed as a domestic “cottage” industry that took place in people’s homes. From raw material to finished product, textile manufacturing lacked any kind of organizational structure—it was an extremely fragmented, laborious and time-consuming process carried out by people during their spare time. In this type of system, called the “putting out system” production was decentralized. The first cotton mills in England were established in 1733.[2] But eventually as the abundance of raw material increased new technologies were introduced—production was centralized in factories. England wanted to keep its industrialization a secret from the rest of the world but news of the country’s progress on many fronts could not be contained. New technologies were developed in the UK before being adopted overseas in the U.S. and other parts of Europe.

Flying shuttle – was invented by John Kay in 1733 and enabled one weaver to accomplish the work of two. Before Kay’s invention, textiles could only be woven on shuttles passed backwards and forwards from hand to hand and up to a maximum of the width of a man’s body across his arms. The flying shuttle allowed the thread to be shot across a much wider bed as well the thread to be woven at a faster rate.[3]

Spinning jenny – the invention of Kay’s flying shuttle led to a new problem in the manufacturing of textiles—it now took three spinners to keep up with one weaver. James Hargreaves rectified the problem when he invented the spinning jenny in 1764—a machine capable of spinning eight count threads of cotton yards instead of only one from the spinning wheel.[4]

Water frame – in 1768 wigmaker Richard Arkwright witnessed that even with the improvements made by Hargreaves, hand loom weavers were still unable to keep up with the demand for textiles. He decided to devise a much larger spinning machine that could cope with the increased demand—the water frame. The water frame was so large it relied on energy produced from a watermill, hence the name. Since it was too large for cottage work—it had to be placed in a much bigger building known as a factory.[5]

Power loom – the first version of power loom was invented by Edmund Cartwright in 1785. The power loom was invented to benefit weaving and was immediately incorporated into the weaving industry. Its design was later improved upon by William Horrocks, who also invented the variable speed batton in 1813. The power loom was used alongside Crompton’s Spinning Mule in many factories. Cartwright never received much money for his patents but he did receive 10,000 pounds in recognition of his contribution to the industry in 1809 by the British House of Commons.[6]

Spinning mule – was invented by Samuel Crompton in 1779 after he discovered that one of the problems with the Spinning Jenny was that the thread kept breaking. He called his new machine the Spinning Mule incorporating the best features of both the Spinning Jenny and the Water Frame into its design. The machine was also able to produce fine enough thread capable of spinning yarns for making muslin. Unfortunately, Crompton was very poor and unable to patent his design. This didn’t dissuade the textile industry from quickly adopting it.[7]

In the U.S progress in textile manufacturing started off slower. A reward to anyone capable of designing a cotton-spinning machine on U.S. soil was actually offered to prompt development. This changed when Samuel Slater, an apprentice in an English factory, disguised himself as an American and building a spinning machine from memory, and opened up his own factory. Another notable American inventor was Eli Whitney who invented and patented the cotton gin in 1794.[8] The machine played a huge part in American industrialization—revitalizing both the South’s cotton industry and with it slavery. Another influential person in the industry was Francis Cabot Lowell, a textile manufacturer during the early 1800s. Lowell built a number of cotton mills in the U.S. based on the designs of British cotton factories he visited while in England. His mills eventually became famous, able to carry out the complete process for manufacturing cotton.

[edit] Fueling Industrialization: Coal & the Steam Engine

Large textile factories demanded new sources of power to run efficiently besides wind and water. Coal and steam would become the two primary sources of power that would drive the Industrial Revolution. The invention of the steam engine by James Watt was one of the greatest technical success stories of the Industrial Revolution.[9]

The steam engine was able to generate large amounts of power that drove machinery and brought production levels to new heights. Its application also freed mills and factories from having to be situated close to a fast moving water supply. Factories still needed to be located next to a water source but the field of choice was much broader in city centers and near seaports where the need for labor and the transportation of goods and materials could be more easily accommodated. The steam engine would also play an important role in the development of a modern transportation system—railways and the steam locomotive.

The development on the steam engine however placed an increased demand on coal. Coal was the primary fuel that provided power for factory engines, steam engines, steam ships and steam locomotives.

This demand for coal brought about new developments in coal mining that made the work a little safer and less dangerous than it had been before the start of the Industrial Revolution. Coal was transported out of the mine in baskets by hand along horizontal tunnels and hauled up a vertical shaft to the surface. Eventually production progressed slightly with the use of “pit ponies” and rail carts. Eventually, railways became the primary means of hauling coal out of mines.

Other developments such as better ventilation, illumination of mine passages with safety lamps, underground and surface transportation and gun powder to blast away coal seams, made coal mining less risky and increased coal production.

[edit] Building a New World: Iron

In the early part of the 18th century, major improvements were made in the iron industry when a man by the name of Abraham Darby produced pig iron smelted from coke. Prior to this ability, pig iron was smelted with use of charcoal derived from charring wood in a kiln. Though this method was still highly effective it caused a serious depletion of England’s forests. Darby’s technique quickly garnered widespread application though the iron industry though the quality of iron was impure and brittle—it use was limited to castings.[10] Metal makers soon discovered ways of using coal and coke to speed the production of raw iron, bar and other metals.

The biggest development in iron production occurred in 1784 when an Englishman by the name of Henry Cort invented a new technique for rolling raw iron—a type of finishing process that shapes iron into the desired size and form.[11] Such advances were critical to the industrialization movement because they enabled iron to be used for many new ways such as building heavy machinery. It was well-suited for use in heavy machinery because of its durability and strength.

Iron was also an important component in building the railroads. With railroads came an improved transportation system.

[edit] The Road to Progress: Transportation

During the rise of the Industrial revolution the surplus of goods, materials, food and people required a more reliable, faster and cost-effective system of transportation. By the mid 1700s canals were being constructed between industrial settlements. The building of trunk lines in the 1770s also helped open up more centrally located industrial areas with much of the funding coming from the merchants and capitalists dedicated to industrial progress.

The foundations of rail transport were also in use by the late 1700s in the form of tramways. By 1800 more than 200 miles of tramway was being used by the coal mining industry to move and transport coal. Engineers connected with coal mines soon began looking at a viable way to apply the power of steam to railways.[12]

In England many men dabbled in the experimentation of steam and its application to rail. The first successful attempts at rail transport were made from 1804 to 1820. These included Richard Trevithick’s “New Castle,” a locomotive too heavy for rails, John Blenkinsop’s locomotive, which employed a toothed, gear like wheel and William Hedley’s “Puffing Billy,” which was used for hauling coal wagons from the mines. The building of railway proliferated across England—by 1836 the country had built 1,000 miles and by 1852, more than 7,000 miles of track was laid.[13]

[edit] The Rise of Capitalism

In a feudal system, land owned and controlled by a powerful aristocratic class, was the primary source of wealth. The advent of the Industrial Revolution brought about a new source of wealth derived from the ownership of factories and machinery. Those who invested in factories and machinery came from diverse backgrounds and were not necessarily aristocrats. Factory owners did share one trait in common—they were fearless in seizing the opportunity to invest in new ventures.

During the initial first years of the Industrial Revolution, industrialists focused on investments in an area closely related to their original source of capital. They then used the profits or (capital) to re-invest back into their business or into other ventures closely tied to their primary business. As opportunities came to make even a greater profit, capitalists were more apt to also take greater risks, investing in things they knew very little about.

Two types of capital needed by capitalists emerged from industrialization: long-term capital to expand business operations and short-term capital to purchase raw materials, stockpile inventories and pay employees. Long-term capital was generated by mortgaging assets like factory buildings and machinery. Securing short-capital was harder but accommodated by extending credit to the manufacturers by the producers or dealers. That meant a supplier could wait sometimes 6 to 12 months before even receiving payment on goods and only after the manufacturer was paid for the final product.[14]

Another problem faced by industrials was having enough legal tender on hand to pay employees. Different tactics were used to make up for the lack of legal tender. Sometimes employers staggered paydays while other paid employees in script. Another tactic was to pay a portion of the workforce early in the day so they could go shop for household items. The money then passed from the shopkeepers hands back to the employer who paid another portion of his work force. All these methods of payment were unacceptable to the workers. One reason for lack of legal tender was a poor banking system, particularly in more remote industrial centers. A more reliable banking system was established by the early 1700s within the U.K. with the country’s first banks. Many banks were actually established by early industrialists.

[edit] The Exploitation of Labour

As a result of the enclosure movement, many people lost their land and were forced to move from the countryside to the city looking for paid work. The invention of new machines also meant that there was less farm work to be done manually.

The working conditions in factories were harsh and deplorable. Workers were often forced to work 12 to 14 hour shifts.[15] One of the greatest injustices of the Industrial Revolution was the exploitation of labour—especially of children. It wasn’t uncommon that children as young as four to five years old were put to work in factories.[16] The factories, relying on coal to heat water to generate steam power for machines, caused a great deal of pollution, often blanketing entire towns in a layer of thick, dirty smoke. Many people also moved  from the country to the cities to work in the factories due to the enclosure of land. Factory owners build housing for workers but it was often overcrowded. Soon cities such as London were overflowing with people—by 1851 half the British population resided in London.[17]

Eventually Factory Acts enacted by the British Parliament regulated the number of hours men, women and children could work. Workers disenfranchised with the social injustices of factory life quickly realized that there was great “strength in numbers.” Eventually groups of workers began to rally and organize themselves into officially recognized unions. The power of these trade unions increased over time putting an end to the government’s stand back and do nothing “laissez faire” policy. The British government, forced from the external pressure exerted upon by them by the growing economic influence of trade unions, eventually introduced reform legislation that addressed these social injustices.

[edit] References

  1. Industrial Revolution. Encarta. 06-08-2009.
  2. Industrial Revolution. Library Thinkquest. 06-08-2009.
  3. The Textile Industry. Industrial Revolution. The Open Door website. 06-08-2009.
  4. The Textile Industry. Industrial Revolution. The Open Door website. 06-08-2009.
  5. The Textile Industry. Industrial Revolution. The Open Door website. 06-08-2009.
  6. The Textile Industry. Industrial Revolution. The Open Door website. 06-08-2009.
  7. The Textile Industry. Industrial Revolution. The Open Door website. 06-08-2009.
  8. Industrial Revolution. Library Thinkquest. 06-08-2009.
  9. The Industrial Revolution. Joseph A. Montagna. Yale-New Haven Teachers Institute. 06-08-2009.
  10. The Industrial Revolution. Joseph A. Montagna. Yale-New Haven Teachers Institute. 06-08-2009.
  11. Industrial Revolution. Encarta. 06-08-2009.
  12. The Industrial Revolution. Joseph A. Montagna. Yale-New Haven Teachers Institute. 06-08-2009.
  13. The Industrial Revolution. Joseph A. Montagna. Yale-New Haven Teachers Institute. 06-08-2009.
  14. The Industrial Revolution. Joseph A. Montagna. Yale-New Haven Teachers Institute. 06-08-2009.
  15. The Industrial Revolution. Joseph A. Montagna. Yale-New Haven Teachers Institute. 06-08-2009.
  16. Child Labour and the Industrial Revolution. Nettlesworth School. 06-08-2009.
  17. Child Labour and the Industrial Revolution. Nettlesworth School. 06-08-2009.