The first industrial revolution, 1750-1850, profoundly changed the way that people in England and America lived their lives. Whether it was by the increased transportation, new efficient machines, the increase in urban areas, or the new job opportunities people were directly impacted by the transformation in technology.
As Foundations of Western Culture states, “The coke fueled blast furnace, made by Abraham Darby, is one of the many inventions that shaped the modern world. The blast furnace revolutionized the way that pig iron was melted down for the production of steel. It was also a much easier and more efficient way of producing steel. The blast furnace was created […] as a way to use coke instead of charcoal, as a fuel Charcoal was becoming increasingly scarce and as a result it was also becoming increasingly expensive. This increase in price caused the production of steel to slow. This increasingly difficult way to produce steel created a demand for a new, cost efficient way to make steel. […] The success of the blast furnace would continue to make great strides in creating new jobs.” The invention of the blast furnace helped the industrial revolution progress. The picture below is from Adam Mossoff’s twitter page. He is a law professor and his page includes many patents from the industrial revolution. The picture of a patent below is of a new type of blast furnace patented in 1826. This new type of blast furnace improved upon issues of the old one. Inventions in the industrial revolution were constantly being improved upon to continue the progression of technology. The blast furnace was very important because it made the metals used for many other things in the industrial revolution, like railroads, cost less. Therefore, inventions in the first industrial revolution were very important because they were what created the new ideas and technologies for today.
The book, Condition of the Working Class in England by Friedrich Engels written in 1844 is a book that overviews the impacts of the industrial revolution occurring. Putting the book into Voyant, the top five most frequent words were: working (564), workers (436), work (429), class (408) and bourgeoisie (305). The top three words all directly relate to work, and the other two words both relate to social class. Therefore, it is likely that these are issues that many people were concerned about. All these words are expected to be mentioned in a book about the first industrial revolution because these issues were very apparent at the time. Many people were moving from rural areas to urban areas in order to find jobs because many new factories were being made. According to U.S. History Pre-Columbian to the New Millennium, “The impact of the creation of all these factories and corporations was to drive people from rural areas to the cities where factories were located. This movement was well underway by the Civil War. During the 1840s, the population of the country as a whole increased by 36%. The population of towns and cities of 8,000 or more increased by 90%. With a huge and growing market, unconstrained by European traditions that could hamper their development, the corporation became the central force in America’s economic growth.” This shows that urbanization played a major role in many people’s lives, as many people moved to find better jobs in the city. Some people found better opportunities, but for many the working conditions in factories were terrible and the pay was not great. Many women were taken advantage of because it cost less to pay them; therefore, many textile mills employed women to work for them. The Lowell Mill is a famous example of this. A letter from Mary Stiles Paul, a girl who worked at the factory, outlines their poor pay and working conditions in her letters preserved by the University of Massachusetts Lowell. One reads,
“Dec 21st, 1845
I received your letter on Thursday the 14th with much pleasure. I am well which is one comfort. My life and health are spared while others are cut off. Last Thursday one girl fell down and broke her neck which caused instant death. She was going in or coming out of the mill and slipped down it being very icy. The same day a man was killed by the [railroad] cars. Another had nearly all of his ribs broken. Another was nearly killed by falling down and having a bale of cotton fall on him. Last Tuesday we were paid. In all I had six dollars and sixty cents paid $4.68 for board. With the rest I got me a pair of rubbers and a pair of 50.cts shoes. Next payment I am to have a dollar a week beside my board. […]
This from Mary S Paul”
Thus, the new jobs and opportunities during the first industrial revolution changed where people lived, and how they viewed society.
The invention of the steam engine train was a pivotal moment during the first industrial revolution. The train transformed the way that people traveled and assisted in the transportation of goods. George Stephenson was an English engineer that helped change transportation by making trains and railroads. The British Broadcasting Corporation explains, “In 1821, Stephenson was appointed engineer for the construction of the Stockton and Darlington railway. It opened in 1825 and was the first public railway. […] The opening of the Stockton to Darlington railway […] stimulated the laying of railway lines and the construction of locomotives all over the country.” His models also influenced technology and transportation in America. The first industrial revolution is often characterized by English inventions and ideas spreading and developing in America, which is the case with the train and can be seen with the GIS map from ArcGIS. There are two layers of the map. The red is of the railroads in America in the 1840’s, and the purple lines represent the railroads in the 1850’s. There are significantly more railroads in 1850 than there are in 1840. This shows that the train was very effective, so more railroads were made in America. The train not only transformed America, it transformed England as well. Both images from Aspects of the Industrial Revolution in Britain show the changes trains brought with them. The first one from 1848 shows the social reform that was brought. It exemplifies the progress that came. The second one from 1841-45 shows a broken stage coach. In the background a train is going by, showing how trains were the future. Overall, trains radically changed the way that people lived in America and England. Trains and railroads brought social change and helped transport goods faster and farther than ever before.
“1800’s Railroads.” ArcGIS. Accessed December 07, 2018. https://arcg.is/0bePni.
Engels, Friedrich. *The Condition of the Working Class in England: From Personal Observations and Authentic Sources*. London: Granada, 1969. https://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/download/pdf/condition-working-class-england.pdf.
“History – Historic Figures: George Stephenson (1781-1848).” BBC. 2014. Accessed December 19, 2018. http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/historic_figures/stephenson_george.shtml.
“Important Inventions of the Industrial Revolution.” Foundations of Western Culture. Accessed December 19, 2018. http://foundations.uwgb.org/inventionsoftheindustrialrevolution/.
Koot, Gerard. “Aspects of the Industrial Revolution in Britain.” Industrial Revolution in Britain: NEH Seminar. 2006. Accessed December 19, 2018. https://www1.umassd.edu/ir/gallery/railways.cfm.
“LibGuides: Lowell Mill Girl Letters: Paul, Mary.” The Little Canada Story – Little Canada – LibGuides at University of Massachusetts Lowell. December 06, 2018. Accessed December 07, 2018. https://libguides.uml.edu/c.php?g=542883&p=3734537.
Mossoff, Adam. “On This Date in #innovation History: Cotton Foss Gets #patent in 1826 for His #invention of a New Type of Blast Furnace for Making Metals Necessary for Industrial Processes and Manufacturing #IndustrialRevolution #PatentsMatter #FireOfGenius @edisonnation @USPTO Pic.twitter.com/pkWPSiFo4q.” Twitter. August 02, 2018. Accessed December 07, 2018. https://twitter.com/AdamMossoff/status/1025091438781100032.
Stéfan Sinclar and Geoffrey Rockwell, “Cirrus”, Voyant Tools, accessed December 7, 2018, http://voyant-tools.org
“The First American Factories.” Ushistory.org. 2018. Accessed December 07, 2018. http://www.ushistory.org/us/25d.asp.