The Industrial Revolution In England Essay, Research Paper
The Industrial Revolution in England
The Industrial Revolution brought about a major change in the lives of
almost all of the people of England. The people of the working class
benefitted from the Industrial Revolution. In other words, I am an
optimist. I think that the standard of living of the people increased.
However, I also believe that many people of the working class lost their
independence as a result of the revolution. Greed did not increase over
this time period because there was just as much greed before the
Industrial Revolution. The Industrial Revolution was a step forward for
women because they wanted to be at home with their children. The working
class in England had a higher standard of living during the Industrial
Revolution than before it started.
The living standards of the working class of England improved during the
Industrial Revolution. At the start of the revolution, from 1790 to 1815,
prices and wages grew steeply. At this point, the prices were a little
higher than the wages. This was due to the war against France from 1793
to 1815. Was it just a coincidence that the prices were higher only
during the time that the war was going on? I do not believe that this was
the case. Prices tend to go up during wars. After the war with France
ended, the prices went back down very sharply. Wages did not decrease as
much. They went down marginally, but not close to the sharp decline in
prices. For the bulk of the revolution, wages were higher than the
prices. After the people of England had bought their necessities to live
on, they still had money left over because of the decrease in prices.
This constituted higher living standards because the people had more money
to spend on things other than the necessities. !
Pessimists argue that the chart from which this information was taken is
incorrect because it only shows factory workers. However, the factories
were where most of the people of England were working. People knew that
they would make more money in the factories, and consequently, the people
of England flocked to the factories. Pessimists also claim that it is
unfair to disclaim responsibility for the Industrial Revolution during the
war time years with France. But why should optimists be responsible for
the years of poor living standards when it was not the revolution’s fault?
It was the war’s fault, not the revolution’s fault. It is obvious that
over the course of the Industrial Revolution, death rates in England
decreased. There was also a large population increase because of the
decreased mortality rates. “20% of the population growth came from
increased birth rates, while the rest came from declining mortality
rates.” (Bin. p. 103) From 1700-1750, the death rates i!
n England were 32 out of every thousand people per year. By the
1810’s, death rates were down to 21 out of every thousand people. At the
end of the revolution, in the 1840’s, the death rates were at 22 out of
every thousand people per year. “There were no significant medical
advances until after 1850 …, so improved housing, clothing, real wages,
and diets reduced the mortality rates.” (Bin. p.103) The pessimists point
out that almost all of the decline in death rates occurred before 1800.
This is correct. However, the death rates still went down. They also
point out that when the effects of industrialization took hold, the
national death rates rose from 21/1000 to 23/1000. But, even though they
rose by two more people per thousand, this is insignificant compared with
how much the death rates had already decreased. While from the 1810’s to
the 1830’s, the rates went up by two people per thousand, in the 1840’s,
the death rates went back down to 22/1000. The starting point used by the
pessimists of 1820 is unfair because it fails!
to include the portion of history during which the death rates fell the
most. “The pessimists unfairly select 1820 as their starting point, which
is to their advantage in the debate, but the technological changes in
cotton and iron, which brought about industrialization all occurred in the
1770’s and 1780’s.” (Bin. p.104) The pessimists also say that the death
rates increased in the cities. In fact, throughout the whole revolution,
they did not. In Manchester, the death rates fell from 40/1000 in 1770 to
33/1000 in the 1840’s. The death rates did go up from the 1830’s to the
1840’s, but that does not outweigh the decrease in the rates before then.
These decreased mortality rates point to an increase in the living
standards in the general population of England.
During the Industrial Revolution, the people of England lost their
independence. Before the changes were made which brought about the
Industrial Revolution, the people of England worked for themselves.
During and after the revolution, the people no longer worked for
themselves, but for large companies in factories. They now worked for a
wage instead of being paid by the amount of work that they completed. The
people of England lost their right to determine how much they would work.
Now they had to work a certain number of hours that their employers in the
factories wanted them to work. This is exactly what happened to the
handloom weavers. They were forced out of their business and into
factories. From 1795 to 1810, the amount of handloom weavers increased.
But from 1810 to 1845, the amount of handloom weavers decreased
dramatically. This was because the first power loom factory opened in
1806. After 1806, the number of power loom factories increased
Handloom weavers were forced out of business because they could not keep
up with the efficiency in the factories. Two people working power looms
could produce as much cotton as seven handloom weavers. The handloom
weavers just could not keep up and either were forced out of business or
had to go work in a factory. But they lost their right to choose what
they wanted to do, and could no longer be handloom weavers. It was just
impossible for them. Another reason that people lost their independence
during the Industrial Revolution was that Enclosure came about. Enclosure
made the small land owners give up their land and find a new job. Only
the large land owners could afford to pay for all of the new requirements
that Enclosure called for. With Enclosure, all land owners had to pay a
flat tax on their land. It was also required to have your land fenced and
surveyed. People that did not own a large amount of land could not afford
to have these things done. People that !
could not afford to pay the tax on their land had their land take
n away. About 25% of the households could not afford to pay their taxes
on their land. Consequently, all of the small land owners were forced out
of business. They could not work their own land any longer. They had to
find work either on someone else’s land or in a different line of
business. Enclosure took away the population’s right to choose what they
wanted to do. It did not allow them to farm for themselves.
Greed did not increase during the Industrial Revolution. There was just
as much greed before the revolution as there was during it. The poor
treatment of children did not get any worse. It just became more
noticeable because it was all in the same place. People started noticing
the poor treatment of children because it was all in the factories instead
of being widespread as it was before the revolution. There are many
examples of the poor treatment of children before the revolution ever
started. Robert Owen was ten years old when he was an apprentice, and
said the following: “Frequently at two o’clock in the morning, after
working all day from 8 AM, I had been barely able, with the aid of the
bannisters, to go upstairs to bed.” (Bin. p.101) Another example of the
mistreatment of children is shown by the following quote: “He employed 17
apprentice girls, and had so cruelly ill- treated and starved them that 5
had died. The girls usually worked at embroidery on muslim !
from 4 or 5 in the morning until 10 or 11 at night. Their food was
usually bread and water… The 17 slept in an attic in 3 beds.” (Bin.
p.101) This kind of poor treatment of children before the revolution
started was common all throughout England. There was an improvement in
child labor laws towards the end of the revolution. The Factory Act of
1833 forbade the employment of children under 9 in textile mills, limited
children aged 9-13 to working 9 hours per day and 48 hours per week, and
limited children aged 13-18 to working 12 hours per day and 69 hours per
week. “The Mines Act of 1842 banned boys under 10 and all females from
working underground. The Ten Hours Act of 1847 limited work for children
under 18 and all females to 10 hours a day.” (Bin. p.102) Towards the end
of the revolution, the government passed these laws to limit child labor
and show that they were not greedy. Pessimists point to handloom weavers
being driven out of business as an example of the gre!
ed in the revolution. But, that was not greed. If there was a b
etter way to produce a product, then why would someone not want to use the
better method? “They had 20 years to shift to a new occupation. Their
refusal to do so was the result of stubbornness.” (Bin. p.97) Pessimists
point out that children were widely mistreated in factories. However, the
poor treatment was only noticed because it was in the same place instead
of being spread out all over the country as it was before the revolution
started. Laslett argued, “The coming of industry did not bring economic
oppression. Nor did it create a situation where workers were exploited.
These things were already there.” (B p.97)
The Industrial Revolution brought about a step forward for women. Many
people today would say that the revolution was a step backward for women,
but we are not considering what people think about this issue today. We
are analyzing whether or not it was good for the women of the early 19th
century. “In pre-industrial Europe most people generally worked as family
units.” (WS p.796) At the start of the revolution, families worked
together in the factories as well. Later, attitudes changed and child
labor was restricted. Men were expected to earn the money for the
household and women were supposed to stay at home and care for the
children. “The man emerged as the family’s primary wage earner, and the
woman found only limited job opportunities.” (WS p.796) A definite trend
formed with the men working and the women staying at home. The women of
this time period appreciated the new reforms because now they could run
their homes and watch their children grow up. Before then t!
hey could do