The industrial revolution in the mid-18th century was the most influential transformation of human culture. It was a period of great change, new industries developed rapidly as a result of a number of new inventions and the way in which things were produced. The reformation of agriculture in England paved the way for industrialization. Wealthy landowners dramatically improved farming methods that amounted to an agricultural revolution. Charles Townshend’s four field crop rotation system was one of the major inventions.
This system helped keep the ground good for farming almost all year by using complimentary crops to naturally rejuvenate the soil. Besides that, Jethro Tull’s seed planting drill was an innovation that allowed seeds to be easily planted deep into the earth instead of on top where the majority was washed away. These inventions aided the agriculture caused food supplies to increase & living conditions to improve thus eventually increased the population in Europe. (Table 22. 1, The European Population Explosion, 1700-1900)
Population explosion & urbanization during the 18th century explained a vital revolution resulted by the agricultural changes. (pg 537, 538, Document 22. 1 – Thomas Malthus On the Principle of Pupulation) During this time, many diseases struck the people like cholera; sanitation problem of the water greatly decreased the child morality too. In the midst of this, many women too died of childbirth. Through the improvement of diet & the conquering of diseases as well as the creation of medical anesthesia, vital revolution was overcome & rates of reproduction continued to increase.
With more productive farms & a smaller workload during the agricultural revolution, people were able to leave the farms & go to the cities. Moreover, the Enclosure Movement (page 541) which required all farmers to build an expensive gate around their lands – had led many people especially poor farmers to move to cities to find work. Because of that, the urban population expanded & caused the conditions in industry changed where farm laborers & artisans flocked to the manufacturing centers & became industrial workers.
Factory owners who were very successful made huge profits with which to buy more machines, put up larger buildings & purchase supplies in greater quantities at enormous savings. Thus capital increased far more rapidly which allowed them to buy more machines & open factories. Furthermore, much of the capital was invested in building canals, railroads, steamships & in developing foreign trade. Therefore, industrialization began to develop from here. Besides that, the presence of plentiful quantities of raw materials like coal & iron, had made industrialization possible through inventions like the steam engine developed by James Watt.
Industrialization came to depend on plentiful resources of iron, from which the steam machinery technology was made, and coal with which it was powered. Another factor was the many inventions in textile industry. John Kay’s flying shuttle enabled one person to handle a wide loom more rapidly than two persons could operate it before. As the flying shuttle sped up weaving, the demand for cotton yarn increased, inventors were working to improve spinning wheel. Richard Arkwright developed his water frame, then Samuel Crompton combined Hargreaves’ jenny & Arkwright’s roller frame into a spinning machine, called a mule.
Mules were installed in mills where they were tended by women & children. Many other machines contributed to the progress of the textile industry. The available supply of cotton was increased by Eli Whitney’s invention of the cotton gin. (Page 542 – HANDCRAFT, COTTAGE INDUSTRY & THE STEAM ENGINE 1700-1850) All these factors of production led the industrial revolution to spread. It impacted the whole society that humanity experienced the most profound changes ever.