Had it not been for all the many incidents and advances that lead to the industrial revolution, I would doubt very much that we would enjoy the technology we have in the 21st century. The reason we have this technology is because from around 1750 and on a great changes in the world s history were made. People started to discover faster methods of producing goods, which increased their economy. These people were mainly British and French, but after a few years the French were distracted by their revolution, and the British continued to industrialize. However the industrial revolution did not happen over night. There were many events that lead up to it. In this essay I am going to talk about the impact of the agricultural revolution, the earlier events that lead to the industrial revolution, and discuss why Britain led the way in the industrial revolution.
In the medieval ages people were living in total darkness, and they did not know what was going on in the world around them. Happily the medieval ages were followed by the renaissance. Then came the year 1750, the year of the agricultural revolution in Britain that led away to a revolution in industry. Charles Townshend for example was one of the people who made the agricultural revolution possible. He suggested rotating the crops every year or two, to help the soil get enriched with vitamins and nutrition s. The American s then introduced potatoes to Great Britain. New farm machines were invented, for example Jethro Tull developed a seed drill that planted seeds in straight rows and farmers began using new iron plows in place of inefficient wooden plows. In addition to that, the entire movement encouraged wealthier people to farm larger amounts of land, which was very good for the agricultural revolution. This revolution improved peoples diet and health leading to an increased population, which demanded healthy food, clothing and employment. Since many farmers were seeking jobs, they found it now in the textile industry, which created a new demand for laborers. As you can see the mechanical inventions were very rapid and each one triggered the next. A few examples of these inventions are the flying shuttle by John Kay, the spinning jenny by James Hargraves, the water frame by Richard Akriwght, the power loom by Edward Cartwight, Samuel Cromptons spinning mule, and Eli Whitney s cotton gin. All these inventions gave the British cotton industry a further boost. Because the new machines all depended on running water which turns a water wheel for power, they had to be placed right on the waters edge. Inventors such as Arkwright built spinning mills and for that he had to hire hundreds of workers all operating under the factory system. This system brought machines and workers together in one place under one roof for a number of hours each day and workers were paid daily or weekly wages.
As the industrial revolution unfolded new sources of power such as the steam engine were developed. Although the idea of the steam engine existed since 1698, it always had problems like intense pressure, or it required a lot of coal to fuel it. However in 1760 James Watt developed a perfect steam engine that revolutionized transportation. Not only so but also brought great changes in the iron and coal industries, which Henry Bessemer contributed greatly to by developing a procedure that helped the production of steel. This stronger more workable steel triggered the growth of other industries as well.
For these industries to flourish and be successful they need a good transportation systems to bring raw materials to factories and to distribute finished goods. Thus they started building canals between mines and factories, then a road surface, and finally a while later the railroad industry was developed. George Stephenson developed the Rocket; the first steam powered locomotive. Also the American Engineer Robert Fulton developed a way to use steam power for ships. Around this time the British had also developed a more cost efficient postal system.
There are many reasons why after all the years the British lead the industrial revolution. The reason is that they enjoyed many advantages that helped them take the lead in the revolution. As I previously stated, the agricultural revolution increased food production, which freed many laborers to work in industry. Also to add to that Britain had good iron and coal resources and had developed an excellent transportation system to speed the flow of goods. Britain was also the leading trading nation in Europe, which gave their merchants lots of capital. So as a result they used their capital to invest in textiles, mines and shipbuilding. Britain also had a large colonial empire, which supplied it with raw materials for their factories. In addition people in the colonies bought finished goods produced by the British industries. The government also encouraged industrial growth and lifted restrictions on trade, encouraged road- and canal- building, and maintained a strong navy to protect British merchant ships all over the world. Also the social and intellectual people in Britain encouraged industrialization even though a strong class structure existed in Britain. The British also promoted the idea that poor people did not have to stay poor, but instead they could better themselves by working for the many industries.
All the great intellects and inventors of the 18th century and the major events like the agricultural revolution that occurred paved the way for the industrial revolution. If it had not been for the agricultural revolution and the early industrialization of the 18th century that lead to the industrial revolution, the world might be a totally different place today. With that in mind it is possible that we should credit the brilliant minds and events of the 18th century for the many luxuries and the lifestyle we enjoy today.