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The period of growth in Europe and America in the later part of the 18th century that converted primarily rural agricultural cultures into industrialized urban ones is called the Industrial Revolution. With the development of new machinery and techniques in textiles, iron production, and other sectors, goods that were formerly carefully fashioned by hand began to be manufactured in vast quantities by machines in factories.
See the fact file below for more information on the Industrial Revolution. Alternatively, you can download our 20-page Industrial Revolution worksheet pack to utilize within the classroom or home environment.
Key Facts & Information
- The Industrial Revolution was the shift to a new industrial method in the United Kingdom, mainland Europe in 1760, and the United States between 1829 and 1840.
- This transition comprised the move from manual methods of production to machines, new chemical manufacturing and iron production processes, increased use of steam and water power, the creation of machine tools, and the establishment of the mechanized industrial system.
- Output rose dramatically, resulting in an unprecedented increase in population and pace of population growth.
- Textiles were the Industrial Revolution’s primary industry in terms of employment, production value, and capital invested.
- The Industrial Revolution began in the United Kingdom and developed many technical and architectural advancements there. Britain was the world’s premier commercial power by the mid-18th century, commanding a worldwide trade empire with North America and the Caribbean colonies.
- The Industrial Revolution got marked as a watershed moment in history. Regarding material improvement, the Industrial Revolution was only second to humanity’s adoption of agriculture, and it touched practically every area of everyday life in some manner.
England – The Birthplace of the Industrial Revolution
- The UK has a lengthy history of producing textiles such as wool, linen, and cotton. Before the Industrial Revolution, the British textile industry was a real “cottage industry,” with individual spinners, weavers, and dyers working in small workshops or even their houses.
- Beginning in the mid-18th century, technologies such as the flying shuttle, spinning jenny, water frame, and power loom simplified weaving cloth and spinning yarn and thread. Cloth production got faster, requiring less time and significantly less human work.
- Because of more efficient, automated manufacturing, Britain’s new textile mills could supply expanding demand for fabric at home and abroad, where the country’s many foreign colonies offered a captive market for its products. Aside from textiles, the British iron industry embraced new technologies.
- Among the new techniques was using coke (a substance generated by burning coal) instead of the regular charcoal in the smelting of iron ore. This technology was cheaper and developed higher-quality materials, allowing Britain’s iron and steel production to increase in response to demand caused by the Napoleonic Wars (1803-1805) and the railroad industry’s rise.
Important Technological Developments
- The start of the Industrial Revolution is intimately associated with a limited number of inventions that began in the second part of the 18th century. The 1830s had accomplished the following advances in significant technologies.
- Textiles: Mechanized cotton spinning driven by steam or water boosted a worker’s production by more than 40. The cotton gin increased cotton seed removal productivity by a factor of 50. Productivity advances in spinning and weaving wool and linen were also significant, although not as significant as in cotton.
- Steam Power: the efficiency of steam engines rose to the point that they utilized one-fifth to one-tenth of the fuel. Stationary steam engines were converted to rotational motion, making them ideal for industrial applications. Because of its high power-to-weight ratio, it suited the high-pressure engine for transportation. After 1800, steam power saw remarkable growth.
- Iron making: The replacement of coke for charcoal reduced the fuel cost of pig iron and wrought iron manufacturing significantly. Using coke also allowed for more enormous blast furnaces, resulting in scale economies. In the mid-1750s, the steam engine got employed to power blast air (indirectly by pumping water to a waterwheel), allowing a significant rise in iron output by overcoming the restriction of water power.
- The invention of machine tools: the first machine tools got invented. Screw cutting lathe, cylinder boring machine, and milling machine were among them. Although it took decades to establish successful processes, machine tools enabled the cost-effective manufacturing of precise metal components.
Impact of Steam Power
- When Thomas Newcomen constructed the prototype for the very first modern steam engine in the early 1700s, he became a symbol of the Industrial Revolution. Newcomen’s innovation, known as the “atmospheric steam engine,” was first employed to power devices that pumped water out of mine shafts.
- Scottish engineer James Watt began working with one of Newcomen’s versions in the 1760s, installing a separate water condenser that made it significantly more efficient.
- Watt then teamed with Matthew Boulton to develop a rotary motion steam engine, which allowed steam power to expand throughout British industries such as flour, paper, and cotton mills, iron works and distilleries, waterworks, and canals.
- Steam power, like engines, allowed miners to drill deeper and collect more of this relatively cheap energy source. Coal consumption increased during the Industrial Revolution since it was required to power the factories producing manufactured products and the railways and steamships transporting them.
Transportation During the Industrial Revolution
- Britain’s road network, which had been essential previous to industrialization, quickly improved, and by 1815, it had used more than 2,000 miles of canals across the country.
- Richard Trevithick presented a steam-powered locomotive in the early 1800s, and similar locomotives began moving freight (and people) between the industrial centers of Manchester and Liverpool in 1830.
- Steam-powered boats and ships were already widely used at the time, transporting commodities through Britain’s rivers, canals, and the Atlantic.
Communication and Banking in the Industrial Revolution
- People increasingly perceived the need to effectively communicate across great distances throughout the latter portion of the Industrial Revolution, which witnessed significant breakthroughs in communication technology.
- While Samuel Morse and other inventors worked to develop their versions in the United States, British innovators William Cooke and Charles Wheatstone registered the first commercial telegraph system in 1837.
- Cooke and Wheatstone’s technology would be employed for railroad signaling, as the increased speed of the new trains necessitated more complex communication methods.
- During this time, industrial financiers and banks became prominent, as did a manufacturing system based on managers and owners. The London Stock Exchange was created in the 1770s, while the New York Stock Exchange got established in the early 1790s.
- Adam Smith, the Scottish social philosopher, often acknowledged as the pioneer of modern economics released The Wealth of Nations in 1776. Smith advocated for an economic system based on free enterprise, private ownership of means of production, and an absence of government intervention in it.
Working Conditions During the Industrial Revolution
- According to Robert E. Lucas, Jr., the true impact of the Industrial Revolution was that “for the very first time in history, the standard of living of the masses of ordinary people have begun to increase continuously.” Classical economists do not refer to anything like this economic behavior, even as a theoretical possibility.”
- Others, however, argue that the growth of the economy’s overall productive capabilities was unexpected during the Industrial Revolution. Most of the population’s living standards did not rise meaningfully until the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and workers’ living standards declined in many ways under early capitalism.
- Though many people in Britain began to migrate to cities from rural regions before the Industrial Revolution, this trend intensified drastically with industrialization. The growth of massive industries transformed little towns into major cities over decades.
- This fast urbanization created enormous issues, such as congested cities suffering from pollution, poor sanitation, and a shortage of safe drinking water.
- Meanwhile, while industrialization boosted total economic production and raised the standard of life for the upper and middle classes, the poor and working classes struggled.
Impact on Crime and Public Health
- Until the late nineteenth century, chronic malnutrition and hunger were the standards for most of the world’s population, including Britain and France. Until around 1750, the average lifespan in France was about 35 years and approximately 40 years in Britain, owing primarily to hunger.
- The population of the United States at the time was well-fed, considerably taller on average, and had a life span of 45-50 years, though this had fallen by a few years by the mid-nineteenth century.
- The Corn Laws harmed food production in the United Kingdom (1815-1846). The Corn Laws, which placed tariffs on foreign grain, were passed to maintain prices high for domestic farmers, and the Great Irish Famine abolished the Corn Laws.
- The Industrial Revolution increased the population, but the probability of surviving childhood did not change, even if it significantly lowered neonatal mortality rates.
- There was still a scarcity of educational opportunities, and kids were required to work. Manufacturers could pay a child lower than an adult even though their output was equivalent; there was no requirement for strength to run an industrial machine, and there were no experienced adult employees because the industrial system was brand new.
- In the early stages of the Industrial Revolution, between the 18th and 19th centuries, this constituted child labor, the labor of preference for manufacturing. In 1788, two-thirds of the employees classified the youngsters in 143 water-powered cotton mills in England and Scotland.
- Because of technical innovation’s industrialization of labor, employment in factories had become increasingly dull (and occasionally dangerous), and many people were obliged to work long hours for low earnings.
- Such significant changes generated industrialization opponents, especially the “Luddites,” infamous for their violent opposition to reforms in Britain’s textile sector.
- Such substantial changes caused industrialization opponents, especially the “Luddites,” to become notorious for fierce resistance to reforms in Britain’s textile sector.
- Outrage over substandard living and working conditions would fuel the formation of labor unions, along with the public health regulations and the passage of new child labor laws in the United Kingdom and the United States in the decades to come. All to improve life for working-class and poor citizens negatively affected by industrialization.
The Industrial Revolution in the United States
- When the United Kingdom was at its peak in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, As the remaining countries of Western Europe started to industrialize, the United States remained essentially a natural and agricultural resource generating and processing economy.
- The construction of a textile mill in Pawtucket, Rhode Island, in 1793 by recent English immigrant Samuel Slater got regarded as the start of industrialization in the United States.
- The United States took its route to industrialization, aided by “borrowed” ideas from Britain and local inventors like Eli Whitney. Whitney’s 1793 development of the cotton gin changed the nation’s cotton industry (and strengthened the hold of slavery over the cotton-producing South).
- Slater, having worked at one of Richard Arkwright’s (creator of the water frame) mills, and despite regulations forbidding textile employees from emigrating, he transported Arkwright’s inventions over the Atlantic. He built numerous more cotton mills in New England and got dubbed the “Father of the American Industrial Revolution.”
- By the mid-nineteenth century, the industry had spread over western Europe and the northeastern United States. The United States, by the early twentieth century, had risen to become the world’s dominant industrial power.
- With the so-called Second Industrial Revolution in full swing at the end of the 19th century, the United States would likewise be transitioning from a primarily rural to an increasingly urbanized culture, with all the issues it entails.
- The benefits and drawbacks of the Industrial Revolution are complicated. On the one hand, hazardous working conditions were common, and pollution from gas and coal are legacies that we are still dealing with today. On the other hand, the urbanization of the population and technologies that made clothes, communications, and transportation more inexpensive and available to the people altered the path of world history.
- Regardless of these concerns, the Industrial Revolution had a profound economic, social, and cultural influence, and it was critical in creating the groundwork for contemporary civilization.
The Impact of the Industrial Revolution on the U.S.
- The Industrial Revolution transformed the American economy, which provided the framework for the United States to control technological advancement and development throughout the Second Industrial Revolution and the Gilded Age.
- The Industrial Revolution consequently reduced the labor shortages that had defined the American economy in its early years.
- The first Industrial Revolution significantly impacted labor in the United States. At the time, companies like the Boston Associates would hire hundreds of New England agricultural girls to work in textile mills.
- The first Industrial Revolution, therefore, marked the beginning of the emergence of paid labor in the United States. Wage work would radically affect American culture over the following century as it increased.
Industrial Revolution: Important Events and Inventions
1712 – Thomas Newcomen invented the steam engine known as the Newcomen Engine. The machine was only used to pump water out of mines and wasn’t very useful yet. But the use of steam to power machines became a vital turn-point in the Industrial Revolution.
1719 – John Lombe started his own silk factory, the first silk throwing mill in England and the first factory ever built.
1733 – John Kay invented and patented the Flying Shuttle, a simple weaving machine that allowed one weaver to weave wider fabrics cutting labor force by half.
1764 – James Hargreaves invented the Spinning Jenny [Jenny being a variant of the word Engine], a machine that made cloth-making faster and easier as one worker could spin eight spindles altogether.
1767 – Richard Arkwright invented and patented the water-powered spinning frame known as the Water Frame, which made cotton thread creation easier. The machine was first used in 1768 and manufactured yarns that were sturdier and harder than what the spinning jenny produced. Arkwright’s invention played an important role in the development of the factory system.
1769 – James Watt improved the Newcomen Engine and built a more efficient steam engine, considered one of the most vital inventions of the Industrial Revolution.
1775-1779 – Between these years, Samuel Crompton invented the spinning mule, a machine that combined the spinning and weaving processes. It was so named as the mule is the crossbred offspring of a female horse and a male donkey, much like the machine, which combined the works of the spinning jenny and the water frame. Later on, in 1825, the self-acting or automatic mule was patented by Richard Roberts.
1776 – Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations [whole title read as “An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations”] was published. Smith’s work is considered fundamental in Classic Economics.
1783 – Henry Cort patented the puddling process used for refining iron ore. It was also around this time that the ironmaster started to refine pig iron to wrought/bar iron using his own-devised production systems.
1785 – Edmund Cartwright’s invention, the power loom [a weaving machine], replaced the flying shuttle.
1794 – Eli Whitney patented the cotton gin, a machine that made the separation of cotton seeds from the fiber easier, allowing America’s southern states to make more money from their cotton crops.
1801 – December 24 of this year, Richard Trevithick introduced his Puffing Devil to the world, so-named because it puffed steam in the air]. The Puffer was the first steam-powered passenger vehicle ever made cementing Trevithick’s importance in the Industrial Revolution. Unfortunately, the Puffer was destroyed a few days later when it overheated and combusted.
1804 – Trevithick built the first steam locomotive to run along a track. Eventually, the inventor died penniless as his inventions didn’t last after a few measly trips, but his legacy in the Industrial Revolution did live on.
1807 – Robert Fulton commercially developed the first passenger steamboat which went into business in that year. In 1800, Napoleon Bonaparte commissioned him to design history’s first practical submarine, the Nautilus.
1811- 1813 – The beginning and end of the Luddite Rebellion.
1816 – George Stephenson patented a steam engine locomotive that ran on rails. While he wasn’t the first one to do so, the improvements he made on steam-powered locomotives and the railways they ran on were greatly significant that he was named the “Father of Railways”. He went on to build the first-ever public inter-city railway line in the world, which was the Liverpool and Manchester Railway. It opened in 1830.
1845 – German philosopher Friedrich Engels published his book “The Condition of the Working-Class in England”, which tackled the negative effects of industrialization.
1846 – On September 10 of this year, Elias Howe was awarded the first US patent for a sewing machine using the lockstitch design. He wasn’t the first to invent the sewing machine, but he developed it, and his developments made him a sewing machine pioneer.
1847 – Samuel Morse received the patent for the telegraph, which allowed messages to be sent via wires. When 1860 rolled in, telegraph wires went as far as the United States East Coast. He also was the co-developer of the Morse Code.
1851 – Elisha Graves Otis, with his sons, designed and developed a safety break for elevators. He wasn’t the inventor of the elevator, but he made riding it safer. He exhibited the safety break in the 1854 New York World’s Fair. it subsequently gained traction, and this time, he made a company out of it, the Otis Elevator Company.
1855 – In January of this year, Henry Bessemer created a process that turned iron into steel. This process was later on called the Bessemer Method in his honor.
1856 – Isaac Singer made his own improvements on existing sewing machine designs of his time and obtained great success from it. However, his design was greatly contested by Elias Howe, who held the patent for the lockstitch. Eventually, Singer and the other sewing machine inventors agreed to pool their patents [they were the first ones to do so] and convince Howe to cooperate. He did so on terms that he be given royalty for every sewing machine sold.
1866 – Alfred Nobel invented dynamite which was safer to use in blasting holes compared to just using black powder.
1870 – Chemist Louis Pasteur developed vaccines to weaken the effects of diseases like anthrax. This was in connection with his belief that illnesses were mainly caused by germs. His pioneering works helped developed the medical world. He was also the first one to encourage and practice sanitation and sterilization before doing surgical procedures.
1876 – Alexander Graham Bell secured the patent for the telephone, a breakthrough in communication.
1880 – Thomas Edison was granted the patent on the carbon filament electric lamp, the first commercially practical incandescent light. Edison is also credited for inventing the phonograph.
1883 – May of this year, what was then the world’s longest suspension bridge, the Brooklyn Bridge, opened for public use.
1888 – Nikola Tesla got the credit for developing the induction electric motor, a significant contribution to the modern electric supply system.
1902 – German inventor Rudolf Diesel invented the diesel engine, which was named in his honor though it went through many hands for its development.
1908 – Car maker Henry Ford manufactured the Model T, a car that was cheaper than the others as it was made on an assembly line. The Model T made cars more available to common people.
Industrial Revolution Worksheets
This is a fantastic bundle that includes everything you need to know about Industrial Revolution across 20 in-depth pages. These are ready-to-use Industrial Revolution worksheets that are perfect for teaching students about the Industrial Revolution, which was the transition to new manufacturing processes in the period from about 1760 to sometime between 1820 and 1840. It was a time when many of the modern inventions we take for granted today were created.
Complete List Of Included Worksheets
- Industrial Revolution Facts
- Name the Inventions
- Revolution in Britain
- Child Workers
- Steam Power
- Industrial Revolution Quiz
- Revolution In Letter
- Inventions Everyday
- Grandfathers of Industrial Revolution
- Modern Thinker
Frequently Asked Questions
What is Industrial Revolution?
The Industrial Revolution was the shift to a new industrial method in the United Kingdom, mainland Europe, and the United States between around 1760 and 1829–1840.
What started the Industrial Revolution?
The start of the Industrial Revolution is intimately associated with a limited number of inventions that began in the second part of the 18th century.
Which country began the Industrial Revolution?
England is the country that initiated the Industrial Revolution.
What are the harmful effects of the Industrial Revolution?
This fast urbanization created enormous issues, such as congested cities suffering from pollution, poor sanitation, and a shortage of safe drinking water. While industrialization boosted total economic production and raised the standard of life for the upper and middle classes, the poor and working classes struggled.
What is the impact of steam power?
Steam power, like engines, allowed miners to drill deeper and collect more of this relatively cheap energy source. Coal consumption increased during the Industrial Revolution since it was required to power the factories producing manufactured products and the railways and steamships transporting them.
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