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The Early Industrial Revolution: The First Industrial Revolution. Best Study Notes

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The Early Industrial Revolution The First Industrial Revolution The Industrial Revolution The Industrial Revolution of the late 18th and early 19th centuries was revolutionary because it changed�... �and indeed revolutionized—the productive capacity of England, Europe and United States. But the revolution was something more than just new machines, smoke-belching factories, increased productivity and an increased standard of living. And change social relationships it did. The Industrial Revolution can be said to have made the European working-class. It made the European middle-class as well. In the wake of the Revolution, new social relationships appeared. Man no longer treated men as men, but as a commodity which could be bought and sold on the open market—an ugly idea all around. England and the Industrial Revolution The Industrial Revolution began in England sometime after the middle of the 18th century. England was the "First Industrial Nation." And by 1850, England had become an economic titan. England proudly proclaimed itself to be the "Workshop of the World," a position that country held until the end of the 19th century when Germany, Japan and United States overtook it. In order for these "high farmers" to make the most efficient use of the land, they had to manage the fields as they saw fit. This was, of course, impossible under the three field system which had dominated English (and European) agriculture for centuries. Since farmers, small and large, held their property in long strips, they had to follow the same rules of cultivation. The local parish or village determined what ought to be planted. There was a constant shortage of thread so the industry began to focus on ways to improve the spinning of cotton. The first solution to this bottleneck appeared around 1765 when James Hargreaves, a carpenter by trade, invented his cotton-spinning jenny, which was a multi-spool spinning wheel. Changing Social Patterns The Industrial Revolution brought with it an increase in population and urbanization, as well as new social classes. The increase in population was nothing short of dramatic. England and Germany showed a growth rate of something more than one percent annually; at this rate the population would double in about seventy years. In the United States the increase was more than three percent, which might have been disastrous had it not been for a practically empty continent and fabulous natural resources. Only the population of France tended to remain static after the eighteenth century. The New Classes Traditionally, English society (and most other European societies) had been divided into nobles and commoners, with distinctions of rank within those groups, and usually a relatively small “middling sort” class composed of financially comfortable non-nobles like merchants and artisans. In France, this group was called the bourgeoisie because of its association with urban areas. One of the most famous pieces of legislation that passed Parliament was the Factory Act of 1833, aimed at child labor. It stipulated: No child workers under 9 years of age. Employers must have an age certificate for child workers. Children of 9-13 years to work no more than 9 hours a day. Children of 13-18 years to work no more than 12 hours a day. Children are not to work at night. Two hours schooling each day for children. Four factory inspectors appointed to enforce the law. However, the passing of this Act did not mean that overnight the mistreatment of children stopped. [Show More]

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