Industrial Revolution a changing System

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Industrial Revolution
A Changing System
The Industrial Revolution is best identified in history as:
A time of transition when machines began to significantly replace human and animal power in methods of production, producing and distributing goods. It was a move for domestic manufacturing to goods being mass produced in factories.
Factory System - The factory system developed around machines, divisions of labor, and mass production.
Beginnings in Britain

The Agricultural and Industrial Revolutions began in Great Britain because of its unique assets.

Land, Labor, Capital

Natural Resources-large supplies of coal to power steam engines and iron to build new machines

Through its colonies, Great Britain had an unlimited supply of raw material such as cotton (Egypt)

Human Resources-large number of workers because of a shift from agricultural production to industrial production.

Industrial workers mined coal and iron.

They built factories and ran the machines.


As a result of the commercial revolution, Great Britain had a large supply of wealth (capital) to invest in enterprises such as shipping, mining, railroads, and factories.

Great Britain was in a great geographic location and she had a large fleet merchant ships.

Strong navy to protect interests

Spread of the Industrial Revolution

The Industrial Revolution flourished in America for the same reasons it flourished in Britain.

Innovations of the Agricultural Revolution
John Deere

Newbold invented the first cast iron plow. Deere uses Newbold’s design to create the first steel plow. It greatly assists the Great Plains farmer and will make Deere a millionaire.

Cyrus McCormick

Invented the first mechanical reaper used to harvest wheat in 1834

His company became the International Harvester Company

The reaper dramatically increased the speed of cutting gram from man operated, hand held scythes.

The Old Industrial Revolution (1750-1870)

Characteristics of the Industrial Revolution include:

The development of the steam engine; New inventions and new textiles; New methods of communication
Innovations of the Old Industrial Revolution
Newcomen developed the first practical device to harness the power of steam to produce mechanical work.

James Watts improved the design of the steam engine making it more practical. He developed the concept of horsepower.

Samuel F.B. Morse (1844) was an American inventor who sent an electrical current though a wire causing a machine at the other end to click. The telegraph was accomplished by a system of dots and dashes that were translations of the alphabet called Morse code.

Alexander Graham Bell transmitted the human voice over a long distance through a wire. The invention became the telephone and was patented in 1876.

New Industrial Revolution (1870-present)
The springboard to the boom of the industrial growth in America was the railroad. As industries grew, they competed with each other. “Competition” should drive down price and increase quality. Competition caused corporations to lose money. Their function was to earn profits for their stockholders. Instead of working against each other, corporations come up with new business practices for these reasons:

  • Decrease competition

  • Increase efficiency in production methods

  • Increase profits

The corporation’s best tactic to eliminate competition was the formation of monopolies or trusts.

A monopoly is a company that owns all parts of a business

A trust is different companies that give control to a “Board of Directors” whose purpose is to reduce competition and fix prices at about the same range.


Many early steam engines exploded because the iron used to build them could not withstand the high pressure of steam

Henry Bessemer developed a cheap and efficient way to make steel called the Bessemer process. The new steel was lighter, harder, and more durable than iron and would soon be used in tools, bridges, and railroads.
In the United States, Andrew Carnegie created the Carnegie Steel monopoly in the steel industry. Carnegie Steel would become the 1st billion dollar industry in the USA. His company would eventually be sold to J.P. Morgan.

The first oil well was drilled in the U.S in Titusville, PA in 1859. Once sold as medicine, John D. Rockefeller would turn his oil company into the largest trust in the United States. His company was called Standard Oil.


The inventions of the steam engine and Bessemer process lent themselves to the transportation industry as other industries.

Henry’s Ford assembly line and mass production techniques made autos cheaper. The idea of mass production spread to other industries.
Wilbur and Orville Wright flew the first airplane for 12 seconds at Kitty Hawk, NC.

In 1876 Thomas Edison made the first incandescent light bulb illumination the whole world. Factories began to operate 24 hours a day. He also created the first research laboratory.

Science collides with Society

In 1859, Charles Darwin published On the Origin of Species. His book argued that all forms of life had evolved into their present state over millions of years.

Theory of Natural Selection-argued that in any generation some creatures would survive and some would perish. The strongest would survive and the fittest would survive.
“Man is descended from some less highly organized form.”
Darwin claimed that all other form of life on earth, humans were still evolving. This theory ignited a furious debate between scientists and theologians because

  • It contradicted the Bible.

  • Darwin reduced humans to the level of animals.

  • It undermined belief in God and the soul.

Herbert Spencer took Darwin’s theories a step further. He applied Darwin’s theories of Natural Selection to society called Social Darwinism. Spencer applied Darwin’s ideas to war and economic competition. Examples of Social Darwinism include

  • Industrial tycoons were more “fit” because they put their competition out of business.

  • War brought progress by weeding out weaker nations; victory = superiority.

  • Racism or belief that one racial group is superior to another. This lead to global expansion of imperialism, racial discrimination, and segregation.

Consequences of Industrialization

Until the Industrial Revolution, most of the world’s population was rural. The Industrial Revolution caused a dramatic shift from rural living to urban living. People began to urbanize. People moved to the cities to seek jobs, entertainment, parks, sports, schools, free concerts, etc.

Define urbanization—the movement of people to cities

Until the 1880s, most immigrants came from Western Europe. These immigrants were known as “Old Immigrants.” They were

  • fair skinned

  • Protestant

  • very literate

  • accustomed to form of representative government

  • easily assimilated into American society.

However, in the 1880s, the character of the immigrant stream changed drastically. The “New Immigrants” came from southern and eastern Europe.

  • Mostly Italians, Croats, Slovaks, Greeks, and Poles

  • Orthodox Christian and Jewish

  • Came from countries with little history of democratic government

  • Heavily illiterate and impoverished

  • Flooded cities instead of moving to farms

  • Had difficulty assimilating into American society

In the 1880s, New Immigrants made up only 19% of the immigrant population. By the turn of the century, New Immigrants constituted 66% of the total immigration.

Push and Pull Factors
Pull Factors: What attracts immigrants to America?

  • Jobs

  • Freedom of religion

  • Food “We eat here every day what we get only for Easter in our native country.”

  • No military conscription

  • Free land grants

  • Cheap steam travel by ship

Push Factors: What drives immigrants out of Europe?

    • Religious persecution (especially prevalent among Jews and the Polish areas of Russia)

    • Overcrowding in Europe due to the Industrial Revolution

    • Joblessness among the peasantry of Europe

Working and Living Conditions

As new immigrants flooded the cities, there were blessings and curses to the population increases.

    • Economic growth

    • Overcrowding

    • Poor working conditions

Most immigrants from the late 1880s through the early 1900s found jobs among the industries of the Atlantic Coast. They worked long hours for very low wages. Men, women, and children worked 14 hours a day six days a week around the clock.

Living conditions were not much better. Immigrants crowded into slums or tenements. There were dark, narrow alleys and no running water.
Sanitary facilities could not keep pace with the population explosion. Tenements smelled fowl and were shoddily made. Cities had problems with open sewers that were clogged with human waste, garbage, and dead animals. Disease was rampant. Tenements and slums were breeding grounds for Cholera, TB, influenza, Yellow Fever, Malaria, etc. “Lung Block” in NY was a prime example of how a lack of ventilation combined with diseases led urbanites to cough away their lives.
Child Labor

Many children worked in the textile industry because they had nimble fingers and could move quickly. Skills necessary for changing thread spools on the machines.

They also worked in mines because they were small and could fit through narrow corridors pushing carts, etc.

There were no safety devices. Coal dust destroyed the lungs of miners. Many textile workers breathed in lint.

Reactions to Immigration
Many Americans welcomed the immigrants to the U.S. and sought to Americanize or assimilate the immigrants into American society.
Define Americanize: To make American in form, style, or character; to absorb or assimilate into American culture; to bring under American influence or control.

As immigrants flooded the Atlantic Coast cities of America, nativism began to emerge.

Define Nativism: the policy of protecting the interests of native inhabitants against those of immigrants.

Nativists viewed the eastern and southern Europeans as cultural and religious plagues on American society. Nativists gave these immigrants a rude welcome to American shores.

Reasons for nativism:

Belief that the immigrant birthrate would cause immigrants to outnumber the original Anglo-Saxon groups in America

Nativists saw the new immigrants as inferior.

Immigrants worked for cheap thereby taking “American” jobs

Response and Reaction to the Industrial Revolution
As we know, the Enlightenment led many people to question all things. During the Enlightenment, economists also joined in the ideological revolution by attacking old economic systems and declaring that natural laws also governed economic life. Any attempt to interfere with these natural economic laws would bring certain economic disaster.
One such economist was Adam Smith.
Capitalism and Adam Smith

Academic Vocabulary: Capitalism
Economic system in which individuals rather than the government control the factors of production.

The father of capitalism is Adam Smith. In his book The Wealth of Nations, he argued that a free market (unregulated exchange of goods and services) was the best economic system. He called this idea Laissez-faire capitalism. He asserted that laissez-faire capitalism followed two basic laws:

Supply and demand – prices and profits are fixed by the relationship of supply and demand.

Competition – If too many businesses manufacture the same article the price of the item will go down so far that some businesses will not make enough profit to cover costs and therefore go out of business.

Smith also argued that every person should be free to go into any business and to operate that business to its greatest advantage. Smith wanted a system of completely free enterprise. He believed free enterprise would lead to laborers having jobs, more investors, and more business owners. Free enterprise produces greater profits and more buyers, and quality goods and lower prices.

By the mid 1800s, most regulations were discontinued and tariffs dropped. Free trade was the new rule. Laissez-faire capitalism had come to Great Britain.


Academic Vocabulary – Socialism

An economic system where the government owns the means of production and operated them for the welfare of all the people.

Some reformers of the 1800s advocated socialism. Socialists wanted to establish an economic system that would abolish the profit motive and competition. They believed that everyone, not just capitalists and owners, had a right to share in the profits of industry.

Socialists believed that people could live at peace with each other if they lived in small cooperative settlements, owning all the means of production in common and sharing the products. The ideas of early socialism eventually gave rise to the radical ideas of Karl Marx.
Communism and Marxism

Academic Vocabulary – Communism

Economic and political system in which the government owns almost all of the means of production and controls economic planning.

In 1848, Karl Marx and Fredrich Engels wrote the Communist Manifesto. The Communist Manifesto argues that class struggle between employers and employees is unavoidable and revolution is necessary to overthrow the capitalist system.

Academic Vocabulary – Marxism

Social change occurs because of the struggle between different classes within society. The Marxist analysis leads to the conclusion that capitalism oppresses the proletariat and the inevitable result is a proletarian revolution

They argue human history moves through stages. They write that great changes in history came from changes in economic conditions. History involves inequality struggle between the haves and the have-nots. In the capitalist state, the struggle exists between the owners and the working class, or proletariat. He thought the time would come when capitalist societies would divide into two classes: the capitalists and the proletariat.
According to Marx, the working class proletarians are taken advantage of by the capitalists who seek ever increasing profits. Marx said:

“The proletarians have nothing to lose but their chants. They have a world to win. Workingmen of all countries UNITE.”

Since many people would not easily accept socialism immediately following the revolution, workers need to initially control the government. This is called the dictatorship of the proletariat. After a period of education, people would grow used to working together cooperatively and eventually establish a classless society where all power is shared equally. Private property is abolished and the state takes over all means of production.

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