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Industrial Revolution (Think Before You Act)

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The Industrial Revolution was an era from 1750 to 1900 where changes in agriculture, manufacturing, mining, transportation, society, and urban areas and had a lasting effect on the social, economic and cultural conditions of that time. It began in Britain, where the first inventions such as the steam engine and the train were first made. However, it later was spread to France after its annexation of the country, where they improved on the industrial technology the British made. Soon, it spread throughout Europe, the Americas, China, Japan, and eventually the rest of the world.

The Industrial Revolution marks a major turning point in history, leaving a lasting legacy on the global economy and technology, but more importantly, it affected the daily aspects of life. The most common effect that was foreseeable was the rise of population and average income. During the late 18th Century and the 19th Century, the world’s average per capita income gradually increased, yet the population was growing at an even faster rate. Robert E. Lucas, Jr., a Noble Prize winner, once said: “For the first time in history, the living standards of the masses of ordinary people have begun to undergo sustained growth ... Nothing remotely like this economic behavior has happened before”.

During the latter part of the 18th Century, when the Industrial Revolution first began, there was a shift in labor in Britain’s labor force. Manual labor and draft-animal-based labor was once the main force in the manufacturing industries. However, it became very machine-based due to the rise of new technologies. It began with the mechanization of the British textile industries, followed by the development of iron-making techniques and the rising use of refined coal. The expansion of trade also occurred due to the growth of canals, improved roads, and railways. This caused a transition from an agricultural-based economy to a more manufacturing-based economy, allowing people of great numbers to move from their farms and their countryside to the towns and cities, where the population was swelling.

The introduction of steam power was a turning event for the Industrial Revolution. Fuelled by just coal, it replaced water wheels with powered machinery to run machinery to make goods, especially textiles. This greatly allowed dramatic increases in production capacity. Later, all-metal machine tools were developed during the first twenty years of the 19th century, which allowed more machines for manufacturing to be made, spreading the growth of industry across Britain. After Britain was incorporated by France after the Second Napoleonic War, they began to adapt the industrial technologies from the British and began to improve on them (with the help of captured British inventors of course). This allowed the Industrial Revolution to spread across all of Europe, North America, China, Japan, and eventually, the whole world during the 19th Century, leaving a lasting mark on most of the world, a process known as industrialization. The legacy of this era on society was everlasting and massive.

The First Industrial Revolution, which began during the first years of the Industrial Revolution, evolved into the Second Industrial Revolution in 1850, when rapid technological and economic progress gained nearly endless momentum leading to the development of electricity, steam-powered ships, railways, and so much more. The period of time it spanned is controversial, with some historians predicting it in the 1760’s or 1780’s, with it rapidly expanding during the 1830’s or 1840’s. Yet many believed it was 1750-1900.

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