Things to Know about the Industrial Revolution
The Industrial Revolution lasted from the mid-to late-1700s until around 1820 or so. It was a time of tremendous advancements in technology, at least for that time frame, and it changed the way we worked and lived.
One of the biggest changes that resulted is that the world became more urbanized and less rural, but that wasn’t the only advantage it offered.
How Did the Industrial Revolution Increase the Population?
When you understand what happened during the Industrial Revolution, it’s easy to figure out why the population basically doubled during that time frame. Lots of changes were happening, and they happened quickly. These included:
- Much better sanitation
- Increased food production
- A lot of advances in medicine and, therefore, medical care
- An increased birth rate
People’s health naturally increased, and therefore, they were living longer, and because they were healthier, they began to have more children who survived past their fifth or so birthday. At various times throughout history, many children barely made it past their toddler years, but the Industrial Revolution improved things and changed that.
What Was the Significance of the Industrial Revolution?
Perhaps the most significant result of the Industrial Revolution is that it simplified people’s lives and helped them feel like they had a little more control. Why? Because during this time, society went from living in rural areas to living in urban and suburban areas, and numerous machines were developed that allowed workers to produce goods at great speeds.
Because of the machinery and tools developed, workers could essentially mass-produce a lot of items, which meant businesses thrived and people had jobs since most of this machinery needed humans to operate it.
The tools also allowed farmers to produce crops for more than just their families’ use, which resulted in healthier livestock and, therefore, a healthier population. Life expectancy also increased because people had access to more of the foods they needed to thrive.
Of course, all was not perfect. Factories would hire women and even children to do a lot of the work, and working conditions were not always perfect. Nevertheless, this was a time of rapid growth throughout Great Britain, many parts of Europe, and, of course, the United States.
Around the time the Industrial Revolution began, the first vaccination against smallpox was administered, and the pasteurization process was developed, which made milk a lot healthier to consume. Advancements in medicine were also a result, with ether being used in surgery for the first time in the mid-1800s.
What Was the Human Cost of the Industrial Revolution?
There was indeed a human cost during the Industrial Revolution. Working conditions could be very dangerous, not only because of the accidents that occurred because the workers were not always trained on the tools and equipment, but also because there were materials they didn’t know were dangerous, such as chemicals, including mercury.
While the Revolution resulted in many positive changes, the growth and advances happened so quickly that, in some ways, society didn’t have time to prepare for them. For instance, many cities were divided into very wealthy and very poor areas, and the poor had to live with dirty streets and often unsanitary conditions, which led to diseases such as cholera.
In addition, some factory owners paid their workers very little, which meant that even though they might be working seven days a week, the workers actually were making very little money. Because workers often went from working on their own farms to working in a factory, there was often a psychological toll as well.
Even war became more sophisticated because of the advancements in technology, so wars automatically were deadlier and bloodier. In many areas, the crime rate went up because instead of staying on their own land and being self-sufficient, workers had to leave their homes and work in large groups, which meant that more criminals were on the prowl.
Why Did the Industrial Revolution Start in Britain?
Historians have debated the answer to this question, but it seems to boil down to a few possibilities. First of all, there was a shortage of wood, but Britain had a lot of coal. There was also a limited monarchy and, therefore, limited government to mess up their plans for advancement. They also had a strong navy to support the ships needed to transport products to other countries.
In addition, they had a free enterprise system, and their government was incredibly supportive of all commercial projects. The country had very high literacy rates and a large pool of immigrants who were willing and able to work. Britain’s convenient location, as well as lots of land and labor, also added to the ease of what they needed to do to start this Revolution.
In other words, starting the Industrial Revolution in Britain, as opposed to places such as Japan, was simply more convenient. The pieces fell into place with the resources they already had, so in a way, it was a lot easier to take place in Britain than it was in many other countries. Japan, for example, didn’t even have the support of the government for any advances to be made, which made it difficult for the Revolution to begin there.
What Was the Industrial Revolution?
The Industrial Revolution was a period of phenomenal growth and advancements in what seemed like a very short period of time. The world had an abundance of fossil fuels, and therefore, advanced tools and equipment were developed that essentially paved the way for advances in medicine, employment, and many other areas important for a strong and productive populace.
As a result of all of this and more, moving from one area to another to find work became easier, as did other opportunities, such as communicating with others and even eating the right foods. It had to have felt like the changes were happening too quickly to many people living during these times, but nevertheless, it was a welcome change to most people.
Fossil fuels such as natural gas and coal were developed, which means people didn’t have to rely on animals to get from one place to another. They were more mobile and transient, and the steam engines they developed started to run more efficiently due to the switch to the “black stones” that they called coal.
Machines made it easier and more productive to create fabrics and clothing instead of having to sew everything by hand, and all of these advances led to products being mass-produced and therefore utilized by people in almost every part of the globe. The Industrial Revolution was indeed a time of fast advancements that, in most ways, made people’s lives a lot easier.
The Industrial Revolution happened quickly and super-charged people’s lives so that they were more productive and enjoyed an easier lifestyle. That being said, there were negative aspects of the Revolution that were brought on by these same changes. And while the population doubled thanks to better health and better food, there were some disadvantages as well.
Factory supervisors were not always attentive to their employees, and working conditions could be dangerous.
War was even more disastrous due to the advances in the guns and other weapons they used. But while the Industrial Revolution had its downside, it is still generally looked upon as something that made people’s lives easier.