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.
Living Standards
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 dramatically. !
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.

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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