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The Industrial Revolution was a time between the 18th and 19th centuries that marked the industrialization and urbanization of Europe and America. Before the Industrial Revolution most manufacturing was done in people’s homes and they used very basic hand tools and machines. The Industrial Revolution marked a new era of specialized, automatic machines and mass production. Many important advancements, such as the ones in transportation and the invention of the steam engine, led to many future technological inventions, making the Industrial revolution and important mark in history.
Before the Industrial Revolution, most people lived in rural farms, producing their own food, clothing, etc., incomes were small and disease was common making life very hard for the common person. Britain being able to become the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution was based on a number of factors. It had plenty of natural resources, especially iron and coal, also Britain was politically stable and had many colonies in which they could receive resources from and sell their goods to.
The textile industry was completely changed by the Industrial Revolution. Before, textiles were made in people’s homes, however in the 1700s many innovations led to increased production while also needing less human effort. James Hargreaves invented the “spinning jenny” around 1764, this machine allowed multiple spools of thread to be produced simultaneously, and by Hargreaves’ death in 1778 over 20,000 spinning jennys were being used across Britain. British inventor Samuel Crompton improved on the spinning jenny’s design with his spinning mule and eventually more machines.
Great advancements in the iron industry were also very significant in the Industrial Revolution. Abraham Darby discovered an easier and more cost-efficient way to produce cast iron. Also Henry Bessemer invented the first inexpensive way to mass produce steel in 1850. Iron and steel were very essential as materials to build machines, tools, buildings, ships, and just about everything during the Industrial Revolution.
There were also significant advancements in transportation during the Industrial Revolution. Before goods were hauled by horse and wagon or by boats through canals and rivers. In the early 1800s, an American, Robert Fulton, built the first commercially successful steamboat, by the 19th century steamboats were carrying freight across the Atlantic. At the same time, steam locomotives were also beginning to be used. British engineer Richard Trevithick invented the first railway steam locomotive. In 1830 the Liverpool and Manchester railway in England became the first to offer regular, timetabled passenger services. By 1850 Britain had more than 6,00 miles of railroad track.
With the new inventions, quality of life was generally improved for people. However the poor still faced many problems, wages were extremely low and work conditions were often very dangerous. Unskilled workers had no job security and were easily replaced. Children were a part of the work force and often were used for very dangerous jobs such as cleaning the machines. The labor conditions were reformed during the later half of the 19th century when the government instituted labor laws and gave workers the right to form trade unions.
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