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Spinning Thread in a
It is your first day at work and you're already exhausted. You wanted to help your family by earning extra money, so you came to Manchester to work with your uncle in a textile mill. You must work on several machines at once, keeping the thread from tangling and breaking. The factory still seems so strange.
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On a hot August day in 1819, workers gathered in St. Peter's Fields in Manchester to hear reformers speak. Suddenly, soldiers attacked the crowd. The incident became known as the Peterloo Massacre.
Theme: Art and Literature Did the artist who created this cartoon favor the workers or the soldiers? Explain.
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In the 1830s and 1840s, British lawmakers looked into abuses in factories and mines. Government commissions heard about children as young as five years old working in factories. Some died; others were stunted in growth or had twisted limbs. Most were uneducated. Slowly, Parliament passed laws to regulate child labor in mines and factories.
The Working Class
In rural villages, farm families had strong ties to a community in which they had lived for generations. When they moved to the new industrial cities, many felt lost and bewildered. In time, though, factory^ and mine workers developed their own sense of community.
Protests As the Industrial Revolution began, weavers and other skilled artisans resisted the new "labor-saving" machines that were costing them their jobs. Some smashed machines and burned factories. In England, such rioters were called Luddites after a mythical figure, Ned Ludd, who supposedly destroyed machines in the 1780s.
Protests met harsh repression. When workers held a rally in Manchester in 1819, soldiers charged the crowd, killing a dozen and injuring hundreds more. Workers were forbidden to organize in groups to bargain for better pay and working conditions. Strikes were outlawed.
Spread of Methodism Many working-class people found comfort in a new religious movement. In the mid-1700s, John Wesley had founded the Methodist Church. Wesley stressed the need for a personal sense of faith. He urged Christians to improve their lot by adopting sober, moral ways.
Methodist meetings featured hymns and sermons promising forgiveness of sin and a better life to come. Methodist preachers took this message of salvation into the slums. There, they tried to rekindle hope among the working poor. They set up Sunday schools where followers not only studied the Bible but also learned to read and write. Methodists helped channel workers' anger away from revolution and toward social reform.
The New Middle Class
Those who benefited most from the Industrial Revolution were the entrepreneurs who set it in motion. This new middle class came from several sources. Some members were merchants who invested their growing profits
in factories. Others were inventors or skilled artisans who developed new technologies. Some rose from "rags to riches/' a pattern that the age greatly admired.
Middle-class families lived in solid, well-furnished homes. They dressed and ate well. Middle-class men gained influence in Parliament, where they opposed any effort to improve conditions for workers.
As a sign of their new standard of living, middle-class women were encouraged to become "ladies." They took up "ladylike" activities, such as drawing, embroidery, or playing the piano. A "lady" did not work outside the home or do housework. Instead, the family hired a maid-servant. The family then set about educating its daughters to provide the same type of happy, well-furnisihed home for their future husbands. Sons gained an education that allowed them to become businessmen.
The new middle class valued hard work and the determination to "get ahead." They had confidence in themselves and often little sympathy for the poor. If they thought of the faceless millions in the factories and mines, they generally supposed the poor to be responsible for their own misery. Some believed the poor were so lazy or ignorant that they could not "work their way up" out of poverty.
Benefits and Problems
Since the 1800s, people have debated whether the Industrial Revolution was a blessing or a curse. The early industrial age brought terrible hardships. Said English writer Thomas Carlyle, "Something [ought] to be done."
In time, "something" would be done. Reformers pressed for laws to improve working conditions. Workers' organizations called labor unions won the right to bargain with employers for better wages, hours, and working conditions. Eventually, working-class men gained the right to vote, which gave them political power.
Despite the social problems created by the Industrial Revolution—low pay, unemployment, dismal living conditions—the industrial age did bring material benefits. As demand for mass-produced goods grew, new factories opened, creating rnore jobs. Wages rose so that workers had enough left after paying rent and buying food to buy a newspaper or visit a music hall. As the cost of railtoad travel fell, people could visit family in other towns. Horizons widened; opportunities increased.
Industrialization has spread around the world today. Often, it begins with great sufferihg. In the end, however, it produces more material benefits for more people.
"Badly Cooked Dinners and Untidy Ways"
Women who reached middle-class status in the Industrial Revolution eagerly sought advice on how to be proper "ladies":
"What moved me ... to attempt a work like this was the discomfort and suffering I had seen brought upon men and women by household management. I have always thought there is no more fruitful source for family discontent than a housewife's badly cooked dinners and untidy ways. (These lead husbands to "flee" from home to] clubs, well-ordered taverns and dining houses."
—Isabella Beeton, Beeton's Book of Household Management
Primary Source What does the excerpt suggest about the role and status of middle-class women during the Industrial Revolution?
1. Identify: (a) Luddite, (b) John Wesley, (c) Methodism.
2. Define: (a) urbanization,
(b) tenement, (c) labor union.
3. Describe life in the new industrial city.
4. (a) What were the main characteristics of factory work?
(b) What special problems did . factory work create for women?
5. How did the conditions of the early industrial age improve?
Critical Thinking and Writing
6. Comparing Compare the life of a farmworker with that of an early factory worker.
q Connecting to Geography Look at the chapter opener map. What geographic feature do many of the industrial centers share? Why do you think this is so?
Take It to the NET
Search the Internet for information about working conditions during the Industrial Revolution. Draw a political cartoon that illustrates the life of factory workers. Write a caption for your cartoon.
4 New Ways of Thinking
■ What was laissez-faire economics?
■ How did the views of utilitarians differ from those of socialists?
■ What were the ideas of "scientific socialism," introduced by Karl Marx?
means of production
As you read this section, prepare an outline of its contents. Use Roman numerals to indicate major headings. Use capital letters for subheadings, and use numbers for the supporting details. The example here will help you get started.
I. Laissez-faire economics
A. Legacy of Adam Smith 1. Benefits of
B. Malthus on population
1. Population outpaces food supply
The Industrial Revolution fostered new ideas about business and economics.
If anyone fit the image of the "absent-minded professor," it was Adam Smith. He'forgot things, spoke awkwardly, and rambled as he walked. "I am a beau in nothing but my books," Smith once said. Still, he had one of history's keenest minds.
At the age of 14, Smith was a student at a university in his native Scotland. There, and later in Paris, he met many influential thinkers of the Enlightenment. He also met local merchants, gaining practical knowledge about business.
Smith spent 10 years writing The Wealth of Nations. Published in 1776, it became an instant bestseller. Readers embraced Smith's ideas about laissez-faire and the benefits of capitalism.
Theme: Impact of the Individual How did Smith's education shape his work?
Setting the Scene Everywhere in Britain, Thomas Malthus saw
the effects of the population explosion—crowded slums, hungry families, unemployment, and widespread misery. After careful study, in 1798 he published his "Essay on the Principle of Population." Poverty and misery, he concluded, were unavoidable because the population was increasing • faster than, the food supply. Malthus wrote: "The power of population is [far] greater than the power of the Earth to produce subsistence for man."
Malthus was one of many thinkers who tried to understand the staggering changes taking place in the early industrial age. As heirs to the Enlightenment, these thinkers looked for natural laws that governed the world of business and economics.
During the Enlightenment, physiocrats argued that natural laws should be allowed to operate without interference. As part of this philosophy, they believed that government should not interfere in the free operation of the economy. In the early 1800s, middle-class business leaders embraced this laissez-faire, or "hands-off," approach.
Legacy of Adam Smith The main prophet of laissez-faire economics was Adam Smith, author of The Wealth of Nations. Smith asserted that a free market—the unregulated exchange of goods and services—would come to help everyone, not just the rich.
The free market, Smith said, would produce more goods at lower prices, making them affordable by everyone. A growing economy would also encourage capitalists to reinvest profits in new ventures. Supporters of this free-enterprise capitalism pointed to the successes of the industrial age, in which government had played no part.
Malthus on Population Like Smith's book, Thomas Malthus's writings' on population shaped economic thinking for generations. Malthus grimly predicted that population would outpace the food supply. The only checks on population growth, he said, were war, disease, and famine. As long as population kept increasing, he went on, the poor would suffer. He thus urged families to have fewer children.
During the early 1800s, many people accepted Malthus's bleak view. It proved to be too pessimistic, however. Although the population boom did continue, the food supply grew even faster. As the century progressed,
living conditions for the western world also slowly improved—and then people began having fewer children. By the 1900s, population growth was no longer a problem in the West, but it did continue to afflict many nations elsewhere.
Ricardo on Wages Another influential British economist, David Ricardo, agreed with Malthus that the poor had too many children. In his "iron law of wages," Ricardo pointed out that when wages were high, families had more children. But more children meant a greater supply of labor, which led to lower wages and higher unemployment. Like Malthus, Ricardo did not hold out hope for the working class to escape poverty. Because of such gloomy predictions, economics became known as the "dismal science."
Neither Malthus nor Ricardo was a cruel man. Yet both opposed any government help for the poor. To these supporters of laissez-faire economics, the best cure for poverty was not government relief but the unrestricted "laws of the free market." They felt that individuals should be left to improve their lot through thrift, hard work, and limiting the size of their families.
Others adapted laissez-faire doctrines to justify some government intervention. By 1800, Jeremy Bentham was preaching utilitarianism, the idea that the goal of society should be "the greatest happiness for the greatest number" of its citizens. To Bentham, all laws or actions should be judged by their "utility." Did they provide more pleasure (happiness) than pain? He strongly supported individual freedom, which he believed guaranteed happiness. Still, he saw the need for government to become involved under certain circumstances.
Bentham's chief follower, John Stuart Mill, also argued that actions are right if they promote happiness and wrong if they cause pain. He reexamined the idea that unrestricted competition in the free market was always good. Often, he said, it favored the strong over the weak.
Although he believed strongly in individual freedom, Mill wanted the government to step in to improve the hard lives of the working class. "The only-purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community, against his will," Mill wrote, "is to prevent harm to others. His own good, either physical or moral, is not a sufficient warrant [cause]." While middle-class business and factory owners were entitled to increase their own happiness, therefore, government should prevent them from doing so in a manner that harmed workers.
Millfurther called for giving the vote to workers and women. These groups could then use their political power to win reforms. Utilitarians also worked for reforms in many other areas affecting workers and the poor, from child labor to public health.
Most middle-class people rejected Mill's ideas. Only in the later 1800s were his views slowly accepted. Today's democratic governments, however, have absorbed many ideas from Mill and the other utilitarians.
Emergence of Socialism
While the champions of laissez-faire economics praised individual rights, other thinkers focused on the good of society in general. They condemned the evils of industrial capitalism, which they believed had created a gulf between rich and poor. To end poverty and injustice, they offered a radical solution—socialism. Under socialism, the people as a whole rather than private individuals would own and operate the means of production—the
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