The Industrial Revolution was one of the most significant developments in human history. In the current context, a revolution can be described as a drastic change or transformation event that attempts to change a nation, region, or society. The motivations and goals of revolutions vary. Like the American and French revolutions, both aim to destabilize and replace the existing political order.
Often the revolution is looked at as an ending to old beliefs and systems and the start of something new which would significantly change people’s lives. On the other hand, the Industrial Revolution lasted almost indefinitely and had a snowball effect that affects our daily lives.
Start of the Industrial Revolution
Historians often reckon the Industrial Revolution as not one revolution but a series of revolutions. The Industrial Revolution occurred between roughly 1700 and 1900, and it was a coordinated work effort of many individuals to bring about a significant change in the industries. After years of continuous warfare and diseases like the plague, the population of Europe grew in the eighteenth century, when European industrial production has considered to have begun. People’s lives improved and became longer as a result of the stable situation and other small-scale advancements. Now people had more time to think, experiment, and invent.
As a result, the revolution begins with a transition away from human-based labor and toward the creation and development of things via machines and industry. New machinery, such as the spinning jenny and the power loom, allowed more production with less human effort. This new machinery converted the cottage industry, which had previously been produced on a small scale by women in their homes, into enormous productions and several machines, eventually leading to the factory system.
The inventions during the revolution
1. Steam Engine
When you trace the history of improved transportation, communication, industrial efficiency, or better chemical manufacturing, you always come back to coal because the industrial revolution was essentially based on the use of various types of energy to automate production. So what is a steam engine? , it is a machine that converts heat energy into mechanical energy
Thomas Newcomen invented the first commercially successful steam engine, which worked on the principle of piston and cylinder and was used to pump water out of coal mines. Later in 1764, a Scottish instrument maker named James Watt invented a more advanced version of the steam engine, which enabled the construction of steam-powered locomotives such as rails and steamboats. As a result, the steam engine was improved and redeveloped in numerous ways and applications for several more years.
2. The Locomotive
The steam-powered locomotive has considered being the most important invention of the time. These locomotives allowed large-scale movement of people and goods over long distances. The invention of railways and roadways significantly increased the trade potential. In 1807, engineer Robert Fulton built the first steamship, which sailed from New York and covered 240 km in 32 hours. Next to the steamship, a new invention was on its way. Richard Trevithick built the first locomotive tramway locomotive. In 1830 the first steam train transported 52 people from Liverpool to Manchester.
3. The Roads
British roadways system didn’t have any significant changes since the 1700s. The road system was decaying as they were not well connected and maintained until the late 1750s when the British government decided to apply new rules and budgets to develop and reconstruct the roads. For constructing smooth gravel roads, a new method known as “macadam” was used. Thus during the Industrial Revolution, the streets throughout Britain became more inter-connected and well-mannered.
Joseph Nicéphore Niépce generated the first long-lasting image. There were many innovators before Joseph Nicéphore Niépce who attempted to create a photograph and succeeded in doing so. Still, they were unable to preserve them long-lasting since they quickly turned black and became unusable.
Cotton and wool were spun by hand in the cottage industry during the beginning of the Industrial Revolution. The majority of the production was done on a relatively small scale by women in their homes. Before creating John Kay’s flying shuttle in 1733, weaving was a far more complex operation that often required more than one person. The flying shuttle made this process automated, and an unskilled worker was needed to monitor the process and maintain supplies.
To meet the growing demand for cotton and wool worldwide, inventor and entrepreneur Richard Arkwright developed a newly organized work system known as factories. Arkwright factory system was the first to control the flow of the entire production with continuous operations that converts the raw material into finished products.
With the introduction of the steam engine, the pace of manufacturing and production increased rapidly. The combined development of the textile industry and the steam engine significantly improved the economy of labor and speed.
6. The Electric Generator
Michael Faraday invented the electric generator in 1831, which was earlier called the Faraday disk. Although the machine’s design was ineffective, Faraday’s experiments with electromagnetism, which included discovering electromagnetic induction (the production of voltage across an electrical conductor in a changing magnetic field), led to improvements, including the dynamo the first generator capable of delivering power to industry.
As we all know, Europe, particularly Britain, was the birthplace or start of the Industrial Revolution. But the real question is, “Why Britain?” When we examine China, India, and Europe around 1800, we can see that they were practically at the same stage of industrialization. So, how come the British continued to dominate the industrial revolution for hundreds of years? Let’s find out why.
While we talked about how coal played a massive role in the industrial revolution, England had ample supplies of coal close to the surface, making coal cheap for mine. On the other hand, coal was found in the north of China, while industrial activity was centered to the south, making coal production less effective.
2. Limited Monarchy
The European countries especially had little to no monarchy rule compared to the other nations, which let them think, develop, and invent freely. Also, Britain had a free enterprise system; limited government participation, which allowed people to produce and earn for their own.
Britain had the highest wages for labor work globally, which encouraged people to work in these factories. Also, Britain used slaves in America to produce cheap cotton.
Consequences of the Industrial Revolution
The effects of the industrial revolution are the reality of the twenty-first century we live in; a hundred centuries ago, smartphones, the internet, television, space shuttles, and other technological marvels would have been nothing more than a silly idea. Many individuals around the world enjoy the advantages of industrialization today. Many of us must do considerably less demanding physical work with so much more energy than ever before pouring through human systems. But these are the pros of the industrial revolution. Now let’s see the cons.
1. Population growth
Because Britain paid decent wages to factory employees, many people from the countryside flocked to the cities searching for work, making the towns overcrowded and terrible places to live.
2. The gap between rich and poor increased
Many individuals had a better quality of life during the industrial revolution than they had before, but the wealth gap between the rich and the poor increased. Poor factory workers were frequently forced to work 12-hour shifts seven days a week. As a result, the rich became more prosperous, and the poor became poorer.
3. City life deteriorated
As the population of urbanized cities grows, so does the growth of slums, which lack fresh air and clean water, leading to increased sickness. Garbage and population were big issues in these places, making people’s lives a living hell.
4. Industrial accidents
People were unaware of the dangers that newly launched steam-powered equipment posed, resulting in several life-threatening industrial accidents.
5. Use of unpaid orphans and children
The factory used orphans from government institutions as labor to keep labor costs as low as possible. Children used to work 12 hours a day in the dangerous steam industries, which harmed their health and resulted in many kid deaths.
6. Increase in Slavery
Slave demand grew as industrialization progressed, as slaves were responsible for supplying raw materials for industries such as cotton. As a result, the industrial revolution fueled and indirectly increased slavery.