Stephen Gardiner once said, “The Industrial Revolution was another of those extraordinary jumps forward in the story of civilization.” The Industrial Revolution, which began in Britain in the later 1700’s, was a time when a simple, rural, and primitive society jumped to more urban, competent, and industrial one. It’s natural resources, buyer demand, stable government, and growing population, led Britain to be more innovative in manufacturing goods.
They started building new tools and machines to more efficiently produce goods. Examples such as the cotton gin, modern roads, steam engines, and factories increased production speeds immensely. With more ways to produce, employers looked for more employees, which led to overcrowding in cities and extreme urbanization. Although both improved economy was a positive outcome of the Industrial Revolution, the horrible living and working conditions for people left a huge negative impact.
Firstly, the manufacturing and value of goods, and urbanization, all led to a greatly improved economy. “Every day is adding something to your comforts. Your houses are better built, your clothes are cheaper, you have an infinite number of domestic utensils. You can travel cheaply from place to place, and not only travel at less expense, but travel ten times quicker that two hundred years ago.” (Doc. 4). The cost of goods became cheaper, so people could afford more/better things. They spent less, which saved more money for other investments or expenses. This allowed anybody to grow their own wealth in any way that they want. “The little town of Hyde was at the beginning of the century a little hamlet of only 800 people.
The brothers Ashton have [since] peopled and enriched this desert… Mr. Ashton employs 1500 work people [in his factories]. The houses inhabited by the work people form long and large streets. Everywhere is to be observed a cleanliness which indicates order and comfort.” (Doc. 7). Mr. Ashton turned the town of Hyde into a manufacturing town. He grew its population from 800 people, to over 1500 people by just by urbanizing.
With a larger population, production of goods increases, which leads to cheaper prices on goods. “One cannot evaluate the phenomenon of child labor… unless one realizes that the introduction of the factory system offered a livelihood, a means of survival, to tens and thousands of children.” (Doc.14). The point this evidence is trying to make is that because of the manufacturing system, people have more opportunity. People can work, earn, live, and grow. People can improve and live better lifestyles. This leads to factory cities being inhabited by people who are growing their wealth.
With growing industrialization and urbanization, the living and working conditions during the Industrial Revolution grew rapidly worse. “The streets are usually unpaved, full of holes, filthy and strewn with refuse. Since they have neither gutters nor drains, the refuse accumulates in stagnant, stinking puddles.” (Doc. 10). Living in England really was hard because everything was unclean and unsafe. “A boy was caught in a machine and had both his thigh bones broke and from his knee to his hip flesh was ripped up the same as it had been cut by a knife. His hands were bruised, his eyes were nearly torn out and his arms bruised … The boy died.” (Doc. 12). This shows that the working conditions were dangerous, and literally deadly. “We began working at five in the morning and stopped at nine at night.” (Doc. 1). This shows that everybody is overworked and spend long hours all day every day in factories.
Despite the terrible living and working conditions people faced during the Industrial Revolution, the Industrial Revolution positively impacted the economy greatly. The shift to this more industrial and urban lifestyle changed how everybody functioned. Long term, the Industrial Revolution brought new technologies, improved manufacturing, gave people more opportunity, allowed people to be more creative, the value of goods changed for the better, and much more. At the same time, the industrialization took a toll on people’s health, there was more pollution.
The positive effects of the Industrial Revolution greatly outweighed the negative effects because the positive outcomes were long term. Today, we can buy anything we want, have opportunity to earn and spend, travel anywhere. All because people went through these productive times, even though it was hard at times. It is safe to say that without the Industrial Revolution in Britain, we would not have the luxuries we often take for granted today.
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