The Industrial Revolution in England
- supply and demand
The political and moral advantages of this country, as a seat of manufactures, are not less remarkable than its physical advantages. The arts are the daughters of peace
and liberty. In no country have these blessings been enjoyed in so high degree, or for so long a continuance, as in England. Under the reign of of just laws, personal
liberty and property have been secure; mercantile enterprise has been allowed to reap its reward; capital has accumulated in safety; the workman has "gone forth to his
work and to his labour until the evening;" and, thus protected and favoured, the manufacturing prosperity of the country has struck its roots deep, and spread forth its
branches to the ends of the earth. [Edward Baines, The History of the Cotton Manufacture in Great Britain, 1835]
- In 1700, 80% of the population of England earned its income from the land. A century later, that figure had dropped to 40%.
- Most people forget that pre-industrial Europe was vastly poorer than contemporary Africa and had a much lower life expectancy. (http://www.aynrand.org/medialink/africa.shtml)
- Even a relatively well-off country like France is estimated to have suffered seven general famines in the 15th century, thirteen in the 16th, eleven in the 17th and sixteen in the 18th. And disease was rampant. Given an utter lack of sanitation, the bubonic plague, typhus and other diseases recurred incessantly into the 18th century, killing tens, sometimes hundreds of thousands at a time.
- The effect on life expectancy was predictable.
- In parts of France, in the middle of the 17th century, only 58 percent reached their 15th birthday, and life expectancy was 20.
- In Ireland, life expectancy in 1800 was a mere 19 years. In early 18th century London, more than 74 percent of the children died before reaching age five.
- Then a dramatic change occurred throughout Europe. The population of England doubled between 1750 and 1820, with childhood mortality dropping to 31.8 percent by 1830.
- Something happened that enabled people to stay alive. What did that early period lack that the later period had? Capitalism.
The Industrial Revolution - Introduction
- In the eighteenth century, a series of inventions transformed the manufacture of cotton in England and gave rise to a new mode or production -- the factory system.
- During these years, other branches of industry effected comparable advances, and all these together, mutually reinforcing one another, made possible further gains on
an ever-widening front.
- The abundance and variety of these innovations almost defy compilation, but they may be subsumed under three principles: the substitution of machines -- rapid, regular, precise, tireless -- for human skill and effort; the substitution of inanimate for animate sources of power, in particular, the introduction of engines for converting heat into work, thereby opening to man a new and almost unlimited supply of energy; the use of new and far more abundant raw materials, in particular, the substitution of mineral for vegetable or animal substances. These improvements constitute the Industrial Revolution. [David Landes, The Unbound Prometheus, 1969]
- The Industrial Revolution of the late 18th and early 19th centuries was revolutionary because it changed -- revolutionized -- the productive capacity of England, Europe and United States.
- But the revolution was something more than just new machines, smoke-belching factories, increased productivity and an increased standard of living. It was a revolution which transformed English, European, and American society down to its very roots.
- Like the Reformation or the French Revolution, no one was left unaffected. Everyone was touched in one way or another -- peasant and noble, parent and child, artisan and captain of industry.
- The Industrial Revolution serves as a key to the origins of modern Western society. As Harold Perkin has observed, "the Industrial Revolution was no mere sequence of changes in industrial techniques and production, but a social revolution with social causes as well as profound social effects" [The Origins of Modern English Society, 1780-1880 (1969)].
The INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION can be said to have made the European working-class. It made the European middle-class as well. In the wake of the Revolution, new social relationships appeared.
- As Ben Franklin once said, "time is money."
- Man no longer treated men as men, but as a commodity which could be bought and sold on the open market. This "commodification" of man is what bothered Karl Marx -- his solution was to transcend the profit motive by social revolution
- There is no denying the fact that the Industrial Revolution began in England sometime after the middle of the 18th century.
- England was the "First Industrial Nation." As one economic historian commented in the 1960s, it was England which first executed "the takeoff into self-sustained growth."
- And by 1850, England had become an economic titan.
- Its goal was to supply two-thirds of the globe with cotton spun, dyed, and woven in the industrial centers of northern England.
- England proudly proclaimed itself to be the "Workshop of the World," a position that country held until the end of the 19th century when Germany, Japan and United States overtook it.
- The Industrial Revolution implied that man now had not only the opportunity and the knowledge but the physical means to completely subdue nature.
- No other revolution in modern times can be said to have accomplished so much in so little time.
- The Industrial Revolution attempted to effect man's mastery over nature. This was an old vision, a vision with a history.
-->In the 17th century, the English statesman and "Father of Modern Science, Francis Bacon (1561-1626), believed that natural philosophy (what we call science) could be applied to the solution of practical problems, and so, the idea of modern technology was born.
--> For Bacon, the problem was this: how could man enjoy perfect freedom if he had to constantly labor to supply the necessities of existence? His answer was clear -- machines. These labor saving devices would liberate mankind, they would save
labor which then could be utilized elsewhere. "Knowledge is power," said Bacon, and scientific knowledge reveals power over nature.
- The vision was all-important. It was optimistic and progressive. Man was going somewhere, his life has direction. This vision is part of the general attitude known as the idea of progress, that is, that the history of human society is a history of progress, forever forward, forever upward.
--> This attitude is implicit throughout the Enlightenment and was made reality during the French and Industrial Revolutions.
--> With relatively few exceptions, the philosophes of the 18th century embraced this idea of man's progress with an intensity I think unmatched in our own century. --> Human happiness, improved morality, an increase in knowledge were now within man's reach. This was indeed the message, the vision, of Adam Smith, Denis Diderot, Voltaire, Thomas Jefferson and Ben Franklin.
- "Tremble all ye oppressors of the world," wrote Richard Price -- and tremble they did (see Lecture 14). The American and French Revolutions, building on enlightened ideas, swept away enthusiasm, tyranny, fanaticism, superstition, and oppressive and despotic governments.
- "Sapere Aude!" exclaimed Kant -- Dare to know! With history and superstition literally
swept aside, man could not only understand man and society, man could now change society for the better. These are all ideas, glorious, noble visions of the future prospect of mankind.
- By the end of the 18th century, these ideas became tangible. The vision was reality. Even Karl Marx understood this when he wrote, "Philosophers have only interpreted the world in various ways; the point, however, is to change it."
- Engines and machines, the glorious products of science began to revolutionize the idea of progress itself. If a simple machine can do the work of twenty men in a quarter of the time formerly required, then could the New Jerusalem be far behind?
- When you view the Industrial Revolution alongside the democratic revolutions of 1776 and 1789, we cannot help but be struck by the optimism so generated. Heaven on Earth seemed reality and no one was untouched by the prospects.
- But, as we will soon see, while the Industrial Revolution brought its blessings, there was also much misery. Revolutions, political or otherwise, are always mixed blessings. If we can thank the Industrial Revolution for giving us fluoride, internal combustion engines, and laser guided radial arm saws, we can also damn it for the effect it has had on social relationships. We live in the legacy of the Industrial Revolution, the legacy of the "cash nexus," as the mid-19th century English critic Thomas Carlyle (1795-1881) put it, where the only connection between men is the one of money, profit and gain.
ORIGINS OF INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION
- The origins of the Industrial Revolution in England are complex and varied and, like the French Revolution, the Industrial Revolution is still a subject of a vast historical debate over origins, developments, growth and end results.
- This debate has raged among historians since at least 1884, when Arnold Toynbee (1852-1883), an English historian and social reformer, published the short book, Lectures on the Industrial Revolution in England. Toynbee was in a fairly good position to assess the revolution in industry -- England had, by the 1880s, endured more than a century of industrialization.
- What the Industrial Revolution accomplished was nothing les than a structural change in the economic organization of English and European society. This is what made the Revolution revolutionary.
- In other words, England, then the Continent and the United States, witnessed a shift from a traditional, pre-modern, agrarian society to that of an industrial economy based on capitalist methods, principles and practices.
- In general, the spread of industry across England was sporadic. In other words, not every region of England was industrialized at the same time. In some areas, the factory system spread quickly, in others not at all.
- Such a development also applies to the steam engine -- one would think that once steam engines made their appearance that each and every factory would have one.
- But this is clearly not the case. The spread of industry, or machinery, or steam power, or the factory system itself was erratic. I imagine the reason why we assume that
industrialization was a quick process is that we live live in an age of rising expectations -- we expect change to occur rapidly and almost without our direction.
- Late 20th century developments in technology are perhaps most responsible for this attitude. We know that technology supplies a constant stream of products that are "new and improved." We know that the moment we bring home a top of the line computer that within six months it will become not necessarily obsolete but "old."
- Historians are now agreed that beginning in the 17th century and continuing throughout the 18th century, England witnessed an agricultural revolution.
--> English (and Dutch) farmers were the most productive farmers of the century and were continually adopting new methods of farming and experimenting with new types of vegetables and grains.
* England's agricultural revolution came as a result of increased attention to fertilizers, the adoption of new crops and farming technologies, and the enclosure movement.
* Jethro Tull (1674-1741) invented a horse-drawn hoe as well as a mechanical seeder which allowed seeds to be planted in orderly rows.
* A contemporary of Tull, Charles "Turnip" Townshend (1674-1738), stressed the value of turnips and other field crops in a rotation system of planting rather than letting the land lay fallow.
* Thomas William Coke (1752-1842) suggested the utilization of field grasses and new fertilizers as well as greater attention to estate management.
* "George Stephenson [the inventor of the steam locomotive] began as a cowherd; Telford, a shepherd's son, as a stonemason. Alexander Naysmith started as an apprentice coach painter. ... Joseph Bramah, the machine-tool inventor, creator of the first patent lock, the hydraulic press, the beer pump, the modern fire engine, the fountain pen, and the first modern water closet, started as a carpenter's apprentice and got his essential learning, and experience from the local blackmith's forge. Henry Maudsley, perhaps the ablest of all machine-tool inventors, who created the first industrial assembly line for Brunel's block-making factory in Portsmouth, began work at 12 as a powder-monkey in a cartridge works and graduated in the smithy [sic]. Joseph Clement learned nothing at school except to read and write and began helping his father, a humble handloom weaver; he too was a forge graduate. So was the great engine designer and manufacturer Matthew Murray of Leeds, who shared with James Fox of Derby the honor of inventing the first planing machines (1814). Fox began as a kitchen boy and butler. The Welshman Richard Roberts, another brilliant inventor of machine tools and power looms, including the Self-Acting Mule - described by Smiles as "one of the most elaborate and beautiful pieces of machinery ever contrived" - was a shoemaker's son, had literally no education, and began work as quarry laborer. William Fairbairn, who designed and built the second generation of machinery for the textile industry in the 1820's, was the son of a Kelso gardener, who left school at age 10 to work as a farm laborer. John Kennedy, Fairbain's partner in this second Industrial Revolution and the first great builder of iron ships, was another poor Scot, who received no schooling except in summer and, like Bramah, started as a carpenter's boy. It was the same story with clever immigrants. Frederick Koenig, who built the first steam presses in London, was the son of a Saxon peasant and began as a printer's devil. Charles Bianconi, who created the first successful passenger transport system, in the remote west of Ireland of all places, was a packman from Lake Como. Such clever and enterprising men came to the British Isles because of the opportunities provided by its great wealth and, still more, by its free economic climate. The English universities might be comatose and the government indifferent to industry, but the law left the entrepreneur and the self-advancing artisan free to pursue their genius. Moreover, it was the only country with an effective patent system."
[Paul Johnson, Birth of the Modern Society (New York: HarperCollins, 1991) pp. 571-2.]
--> They also learned a great deal about manure and other fertilizers. In other words, many English farmers were treating farming as a science, and all this interest eventually resulted in greater yields.
--> English society was far more open than French -- there were no labor obligations to the lord. The English farmer could move about his locale or the country to sell his goods while the French farmer was bound by direct and indirect taxes, tariffs or other kinds of restrictions.
- Incidently, the law protects inventors and authors by patents and copyright. A patent is a license to manufacture, sell, or deal in an article or commodity, to the exclusion of other persons; it is a grant from the government. Once a patent is secured, then the invention can only be employed by the patent holder or his assigns. Without such legal protection -- which was to first appear in England before the Industrial Revolution began -- anyone might steal the work of another; thus, dampening the enthusiasm of would be inventors.
- The result of these developments taken together was a period of high productivity and low food prices. And this, in turn, meant that the typical English family did not have to spend almost everything it earned on bread (as was the case in France before 1789), and instead could purchase manufactured goods.
- There are other assets that helped make England the "first industrial nation." Unlike France, England had an effective central bank and well-developed credit market.
- The English government allowed the domestic economy to function with few restrictions and encouraged both technological change and a free market. England also had a labor surplus which, thanks to the enclosure movement, meant that there was an adequate supply of workers for the burgeoning factory system.
- England faced increasing pressure to produce more manufactured goods due to the 18th century population explosion -- England's population nearly doubled over the course of the century.
- And the industry most important in the rise of England as an industrial nation was cotton textiles. No other industry can be said to have advanced so far so quickly.
- Although the putting-out system (cottage industry) was fairly well-developed across the Continent, it was fully developed in England. A merchant would deliver raw cotton at a household. The cotton would be cleaned and then spun into yarn or thread. After a period of time, the merchant would return, pick up the yarn and drop off more raw cotton. The merchant would then take the spun yarn to another household where it was woven into cloth. The system worked fairly well except under the growing pressure of demand, the putting-out system could no longer keep up.
- There was a constant shortage of thread so the industry began to focus on ways to improve the spinning of cotton.
* The first solution to this bottleneck appeared around 1765 when James Hargreaves (c.1720-1778), a carpenter by trade, invented his cotton-spinning jenny.
* At almost the same time, Richard Arkwright (1732-1792) invented another kind of spinning device, the water frame.
--> Thanks to these two innovations, ten times as much cotton yarn had been manufactured in 1790 than had been possible just twenty years earlier.
- The first consequence of these developments was that cotton goods became much cheaper and were bought by all social classes.
- Cotton is the miracle fiber -- it is easy to clean, spin, weave and dye and is comfortable to wear. Now millions of people who had worn nothing under their coarse clothes could afford to wear cotton undergarments.
- Although the spinning jenny and water frame managed to increase the productive capacity of the cotton industry, the real breakthrough came with developments in steam power.
--> Developed in England by Thomas Savery (1698) and Thomas Newcomen (1705), these early steam engines were used to pump water from coal mines.
-->In the 1760s, a Scottish engineer, James Watt (1736-1819) created an engine that could pump water three times as quickly as the Newcomen engine.
--> In 1782, Watt developed a rotary engine that could turn a shaft and drive machinery to power the machines to spin and weave cotton cloth. Because Watt's engine was fired by coal and not water, spinning factories could be located virtually
- Steam power also promoted important changes in other industries.
--> The use of steam-driven bellows in blast furnaces helped ironmakers switch over from charcoal (limited in quantity) to coke, which is made from coal, in the smelting of pig iron.
--> In the 1780s, Henry Cort (1740-1800) developed the puddling furnace, which allowed pig iron to be refined in turn with coke.
--> Skilled ironworkers ("puddlers") could "stir" molten pig iron in a large vat, raking off refined iron for further processing. Cort also developed steam-powered rolling mills, which were capable of producing finished iron in a variety of shapes and forms.
- These are perhaps cultural reasons. Although the industrial revolution was clearly an
unplanned and spontaneous event, it never would have been "made" had there not been men who wanted such a thing to occur.
- There must have been men who saw opportunities not only for advances in technology, but also the profits those advances might create.
- Which brings us to one very crucial cultural attribute -- the English, like the Dutch of the same period, were a very commercial people. They saw little problem with making money, nor with taking their surplus and reinvesting it.
- Whether this attribute has something to do with their"Protestant work ethic," as Max Weber put it, or with a specifically English trait is debatable, but the fact remains that English entrepreneurs had a much wider scope of activities than did their Continental counterparts at the same time.
(based on: http://www.libertyhaven.com/countriesandregions/britain/childlaborbritish.html)
REMINDER: Capitalism is not a system of compulsion.
- "Free-labour" children were those who lived at home but worked during the days in factories at the insistence of their parents or guardians.
- British historian E. R Thompson, though generally critical of the factory system, nonetheless quite properly conceded that "it is perfectly true that the parents not only needed their children's earnings, but expected them to work."
- Professor Ludwig von Mises, the great Austrian economist, put it well when he noted that the generally deplorable conditions extant for centuries before the Industrial Revolution, and the low levels of productivity which created them, caused families to embrace the new opportunities the factories represented: "It is a distortion of facts to say that the factories carried off the housewives from the nurseries and the kitchens and the children from their play. These women had nothing to cook with and to feed their children. These children were destitute and starving. Their only refuge was the factory. It saved them, in the strict sense of the term, from death by starvation."3
- Private factory owners could not forcibly subjugate "free-labour" children; they could not compel them to work in conditions their parents found unacceptable.
- The mass exodus from the socialist Continent to increasingly capitalist, industrial Britain in the first half of the 19th century strongly suggests that people did indeed find the industrial order an attractive alternative.
- And no credible evidence exists which argues that parents in these early capitalist days were any less caring of their offspring than those of pre-capitalist times.
- The situation, however, was much different for "apprentice" children, and close examination reveals that it was these children on whom the critics were focusing when they spoke of the "evils" of capitalism's Industrial Revolution. These youngsters, it turns out, were under the direct authority and supervision not of their parents in a free labor market, but of government officials.
- Many were orphans; a few were victims of negligent parents or parents whose health or lack of skills kept them from earning sufficient income to care for a family. All were in the custody of "parish authorities."
--> As the Hammonds wrote, ". . . the first mills were placed on streams, and the necessary labour was provided by the importation of cartloads of pauper children from the workhouses in the big towns.
--> London was an important source, for since the passing of Hanway's Act in 1767 the child population in the workhouses had enormously increased, and the parish authorities were anxious to find relief from the burden of their maintenance.... To the parish authorities, encumbered with great masses of unwanted children, the new cotton mills in Lancashire, Derby, and Notts were a godsend."
- Though consigned to the control of a government authority, these children are routinely held up as victims of the "capitalist order."
- The parish apprentice children, he writes, were "sent into virtual slavery by the parish authorities, a government body: they were deserted or orphaned pauper children who were legally under the custody of the poor-law officials in the parish, and who were bound by these officials into long terms of unpaid apprenticeship in return for a bare subsistence."
- Indeed, Hessen points out, the first Act in Britain that applied to factory children was passed to protect these very parish apprentices, not "free-labour" children.
The Sadler Report
- Written by a Member of Parliament in 1832 and filled with stories of brutality, degradation, and oppression against factory workers of all ages and status, it became the bible for indignant reformers well into the 20th century.
In his book, The Condition of the Working Classes in England, Engels says this of the Sadler Report: "This is a very partisan document, which was drawn up entirely by enemies of the factory system for purely political purposes. Sadler was led astray by his passionate sympathies into making assertions of a most misleading and erroneous kind. He asked witnesses questions in such a way as to elicit answers which, although correct, nevertheless were stated in such a form as to give a wholly false impression."
As already explained, the first of the factory legislation was an act of mercy for the enslaved apprentice children. Successive acts between 1819 and 1846, however, placed greater and greater restrictions on the employment of free-labor children. Were they necessary to correct alleged "evils of industrialization"?
The evidence strongly suggests that whatever benefits the legislation may have produced by preventing children from going to work (or raising the cost of employing them) were marginal, and probably were outweighed by the harm the laws actually caused. Gaskell admitted a short time after one of them had passed that it "caused multitudesof children to be dismissed, but it has only increased the evils it was intended to remedy, and must of necessity be repealed."
Hutt believes that "in the case of children's labor the effects [of restrictive laws] went further than the mere loss of their work; they lost their training and, consequently, their skill as adults."
Conditions of employment and sanitation were best, as the Factory Commission of 1833 documented, in the larger and newer factories. The owners of these larger establishments, which were more easily and frequently subject to visitation and
scrutiny by inspectors, increasingly chose to dismiss children from employment rather than be subjected to elaborate, arbitrary, and ever changing rules on how they might run a factory employing youths.
- The unintended result of legislative intervention was that these dismissed children, most of whom needed to work in order to survive, were forced to seek jobs in smaller, older, and more out of-the-way places where sanitation, lighting, and safety were markedly inferior.
- Those who could not find new jobs were reduced to the status of their counterparts a hundred years before, that is, to irregular and grueling agricultural labor, or worse-in the words of Mises-"infested the country as vagabonds, beggars, tramps, robbers, and
- So it is that child labor was relieved of its worst attributes not by legislative fiat, but by the progressive march of an ever more productive, capitalist system. Child labor was virtually eliminated when, for the first time in history, the productivity of parents in free labor markets rose to the point that it was no longer economically necessary for children to work in order to survive.
- The emancipators and benefactors of children were not legislators or factory inspectors, but factory owners and financiers. Their efforts and investments in machinery led to a rise in real wages, to a growing abundance of goods at lower
prices, and to an incomparable improvement in the general standard of living.
- Of all the interpretations of industrial history, it would be difficult to find one more perverse than that which ascribes the suffering of children to capitalism and its Industrial Revolution. The popular critique of child labor in industrial Britain is unwarranted, misdirected propaganda.
- The great improvement in mortality rates seems to indicate that either child labor was not extensive as before or was less harmful
Rich Got Richer, Poor Got Poorer
(based upon http://www.libertyhaven.com/theoreticalorphilosophicalissues/economichistory/indusrev.shtml)
- For the general public, the horrors of the industrial revolution prove the horrors of capitalism.
- For the great majority of the laboring class the results of the policy (of laissez faire) were inadequate wages, long hours of work under sordid conditions, and the large-scale employment of women and children for tasks which destroy body and soul.
- increase in real wages: the average worker was much better off in any decade from the 1830s on than any decade before 1820
- Although money wages remained stable, the prices of manufactured and agricultural goods plummeted as entrepreneurs struggled to deliver consumers low-priced goods and services.
- Per capita consumption of meat, sugar, tea, beer, and eggs all increased.
- An even better indication of the rising affluence was the great increase of imported foods. Per capita consumption of foreign cocoa, cheese, coffee, rice, sugar, and tobacco increased.
- Meanwhile, meat, vegetables, and fruits, long considered luxuries, were by 1850 eaten regularly
- In fact, the average weekly English diet of 1850 -- five ounces of butter, thirty ounces of meat, fifty-six ounces of potatoes, and sixteen ounces of fruits and vegetables -- is quite similar to the English diet of today
- The unemployment rate was at most eight per cent per year, and was probably far lower.
- As for underemployment, the tremendous shift from agriculture, which provided only seasonal employment, to the more stable manufacturing sector, led to decreasing underemployment
- Progress was slow, uneven, and sometimes nonexistent during many periods. For example, in the early stages of the revolution growth was minimal, resulting in little or no improvement for the working class.
- Is capitalism to blame for this slow rate of progress? To the contrary, it was the many forms of government intervention, not capitalism, which slowed British economic growth during the industrial revolution.
- Perhaps the most important of these many interventions that hindered progress was the long period of intense war during the early years of the revolution. From 1760 to 1815, Britain was constantly engaged in war, either against France or the American Colonies. In fact, between 1780 and 1810, England was in the midst of a massive military build-up that was unmatched until World War I
- Early commentators were quick to recognize the debilitating effects of this military build-up on the English economy. The historian J.E. Thorold Rogers, for instance, observed that the cost of the Napoleonic Wars was high indeed:
Thousands of homes were starved in order to find the means for the great war . . . the resources on which the struggle was based, and without which it would have speedily collapsed, were the stint and starvation of labor, the overtaxed and underfed toils of childhood, and the under-paid and uncertain unemployment of men.
- Government war spending and borrowing increased interest rates, thus "crowding out" private investors who desperately needed capital to construct new factories, build better canals, and design new inventions. Growth was present during the war, but it was excruciatingly small. In the long run, this meant fewer jobs and lower wages for the working class.
- But, for the common man, the war had more painful and immediate consequences than slowing the rate of economic growth. Various government schemes to finance the war debt led to monetary instability and uncertainty. This monetary instability, coupled with severe harvest failures, led to rapidly increasing food prices throughout the Napoleonic Wars.
- In fact, food prices soared upward by more than twenty--five per cent. Considering that the British working class then only earned on the average little more than £11 per year, it is no wonder how these developments led to hardships and deprivation that invariably resulted in social unrest.
Its A Miserable Life??
- Gibbon, the 18th-century historian, explained that his father, also named Edward, named many of his sons Edward in hopes that at least one would survive to carry on his name. His concern was justified. Edward the historian was the only survivor of seven children.
- On the eve of the Industrial Revolution the twenty years between 1730 and 1749 74.5 percent of English children died before the age of five.
- Oliver Cromwell was the only child of ten to reach adulthood. Queen Anne of England had seventeen children, none of whom survived her. It was not uncommon for women in the Scottish highlands to bear twenty children and only two survive, Adam Smith wrote in The Wealth of Nations.
- Most 17th-century women were pregnant from puberty to death and often saw none of their children live to adulthood.
- Children realized that their lives were marginal, since death was always at hand. Few knew a grandparent, and many had lost one or both parents and many siblings. Childhood diseases would quite possibly carry them off before age 15.
- A high death rate results in a young population. During the 18th century fifty percent of the available workforce was under the age of fifteen.
- Britain was eighty percent rural, and for centuries rural children had worked from the age of five. It should be no surprise, then, that whole families sought employment in the coal mines during slack agricultural season and children, harnessed to coal carts in narrow underground tunnels, worked 12-hour shifts for starvation wages.
- But the greater demand for labor and the improved technology occasioned by the Industrial Revolution meant higher wages. Men were able to retire most of their families from the pits, and we find no record of women or girls working in the northern mines afte 1780, according to British economist and historian T.S. Ashton.
- WOMEN BENEFIT: Improvements in economic, and thereby physical, well-being during the Industrial Revolution and the Industrial Age that followed ended child labor, put children in schools, and freed women from being child-bearing machines and beasts of burden to become literate and intellectually productive human beings.
- The most recent evidence suggests tha blue-collar real wages doubled between 1810 and 1850, McCloskey, although emphasizing a much longer period of time, also concludes that real wages increased significantly. He argues that real wages rose from an average of £11 per capita in 1780 to £28 per capita in 1860
- According to the estimates of economist N. F. R. Crafts, British income per person (in 1970 U.S. dollars) rose from $333 in 1700 to $399 in 1760, to $427 in 1800, to $498 in 1830, and then jumped to $804 in 1860. (For many centuries before the industrial revolution, in contrast, periods of falling income offset periods of rising income.)
- A 1983 paper by Peter Lindert and Jeffrey Williamson brought new life to the controversy. Lindert and Williamson produced new estimates of real wages for the years 1755 to 1851. Their estimates were based on money wages for workers in several broad categories, including both blue-collar and white-collar occupations. Their cost of living index attempted to represent actual working-class budgets.
- The Lindert-Williamson series produced two striking results. First, real wages grew slowly between 1781 and 1819. Second, after 1819 real wages grew rapidly for all groups of workers. For all blue-collar workersa good stand-in for the working classesthe Lindert-Williamson index number for real wages rose from 50.19
in 1819 to 100 in 1851. That is, real wages doubled in just thirty-two years.
Lindert and Williamson's findings were reinforced by estimates that economist Charles Feinstein made of consumption per person for each decade between the 1760s and 1850s. He found a small rise in consumption between 1760 and 1820 and a rapid rise after 1820.
Standard of Living
Between 1760 and 1860, technological progress, education, and an increasing capital stock transformed England into the workshop of the world.
First, we must consider what "standard of living" means. Economic historians would like it to mean happiness. But the impossibility of measuring happiness forces them to equate the standard of living with real income. Real income is money income adjusted for the cost of living and for the effects of things such as health, unemployment, pollution, the condition of women and children, urban crowding, and amount of leisure time.
* According to the estimates of economist N. F. R. Crafts, British income per person (in 1970 U.S. dollars) rose from
$333 in 1700
$399 in 1760
$427 in 1800
$498 in 1830
$804 in 1860.
* For many centuries before the industrial revolution, in contrast, periods of falling income offset periods of rising income.
* In 1760 the lowest 65 percent received about 29 percent of total income in Britain; in 1860 they got about 25 percent.
* So the lowest 65 percent were substantially better off. Their average real income had increased by over 70 percent betwwwn 1760 and 1860.
* If we take 0.3 percent per year as the annual rate of growth of real income, average real income in 1840 would have been about 16 percent higher than in 1790.
* Real wages rose after 1820.
* Real wages grew slowly between 1781 and 1819.
* Second, after 1819 real wages grew rapidly for all groups of workers.
* For all blue-collar workersa good stand-in for the working classesthe Lindert-Williamson index number for real wages doubled between 1819 and 1851
* There was a small rise in consumption between 1760 and 1820 and a rapid rise after 1820.
* In England, life expectancy at birth rose from thirty-five years to forty years between 1781 and 1851.
(life expectancy is now 67.)
(poverty reduced more in past 50 years than in past 500, according to U.N.)
1970 - 35% people starving
1996 - 18%
2010 - 12% starving (United Nations figures)
75% of people in developing world were illiterate in 1915
30% in 1970 developing world have access to clean drinking water
today about 80%
access to sanitation: 23% in 1970 to 53% in 2000
total loss of Amazon forest since arrival of man is 14%
urban air pollution down over 90% since 1930 (former pollution estimated to kill 64K annually)
In London, air pollution peaked around 1890 and the air is cleaner today than it has been since 1585. When countries grow sufficiently rich they will start to reduce their air pollution.
The Middle Class
* Industry, job opportunities, increased wages, and vision opened the way for a new class of citizenry by the 1850s - the middle class.
* This group consisted of factory owners, bankers, shopkeepers, merchants, lawyers, engineers, and other professionals. The new class was gaining power through economic and social means, not because of inherited titles or lands as the aristocracy. They soon knocked on the door of the upper class, demanding entry into the realm of the previously privileged. These men and women felt that wealth and social position were theirs for the taking through discipline and hard competition.
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* Profit-making companies have incentives to be efficient. Economist Mikhail Bernstam compared the use of energy in capitalist and socialist countries. He found that the market-based economies used only 37 percent as much the energy as did the socialist nations to produce the same output. (Mikhail Bernstam, The Wealth of Nations and the Environment (London: Institute of Economic Affairs, 1991), p. 24. )
* Market-based economies conserve on other materials as well. In 1965, for example, 164 pounds of metal were needed to produce 1,000 beverage cans. But that went down to 35 pounds by 1990, the change caused by the shift to lighter-weight aluminum and a reduction in the amount of material used. Competition pressured the companies to use less raw material. (Lynn Scarlett, "Make Your Environment Dirtier - Recycle," The Wall Street Journal, January 14, 1991. )
* And environmentalist Randal O'Toole points out that we can thank the automobile for the dramatic regrowth of forests in the twentieth century! By displacing horses, the automobile eliminated the need for so much pastureland for horses, so millions of acres of farmland reverted to forest.
* Free market ended whaling ::
1. By 1833 there were 392 American whaling vessels. By 1846 there were 735 whalers, comprising 80 percent of the whaling fleet of the entire world. Each year whaling produced 4-5 million gallons of sperm oil, 6-10 million gallons of train oil, and
1.656 million pounds of bone. The price of train oil rose from 35 cents per gallon in 1825 to 95 cents in 1855.
2. The American whaling industry peaked in the 1850s because of the march of technology.
3. 1849: kerosene is discovered
4. The 735-ship fleet of 1846 had shrunk to 39 by 1876. The price of sperm oil reached its high of $1.77 per gallon in 1856; by 1896 it sold for 40 cents. Yet it could not keep pace with the price of refined petroleum, which dropped from 59 cents per gallon in 1865 to a fraction over seven cents in 1895.
5. In 1879 Thomas A. Edison began marketing the incandescent light bulb he had invented the previous year. As the country was electrified, whale oil and kerosene were both driven from the illumination market.
The "Pollution Prevention Pays" program at 3M has reduced emissions by more than a billion pounds while saving $500 million.
One Westinghouse plant in Puerto Rico reduced contamination spread by chemicals as they flow from one tank to another by 75 percent by shaking the tank to remove solids.
Chevron saved $10 million in waste disposal costs and reduced hazardous waste by 60 percent in the first three years of its "Save Money and Reduce Toxics" (SMART) program.
International Paper saved about $100 million in disposal expenses between 1988 and 1995 by recycling and reusing its manufacturing wastes.
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* Smallpox, dysentery, and malaria-once common threats to humankind-are today totally conquered in the industrial world. (Smallpox is no longer a threat even in the poorest parts of the world.)
* Antibiotics regularly protect us from many infections that routinely killed our ancestors.
* Before refrigeration, people ran enormous risks of ingesting deadly bacteria when ever they ate meat or dairy products. Refrigeration has dramatically reduced the "bacteria pollution" that constantly haunted our pretwentieth-century forebears.
* We wear clean clothes; our ancestors wore foul clothes. Pre-industrial humans had no washers, dryers, or sanitary laundry detergent. Clothes were worn day after day without being washed. And when they were washed, the detergent was often made of urine.
* Our bodies today are much cleaner. Sanitary soap is dirt cheap (so to speak), as is clean water from household taps. The result is that, unlike our ancestors, we modems bathe frequently.
* Not only was soap a luxury until just a few generations ago, but because nearly all of our pre-industrial ancestors could afford nothing larger than minuscule cottages, there were no bathrooms (and certainly no running water).
* Baths, when taken, were taken in nearby streams, rivers, or ponds-often the same bodies of water used by the farm animals. Forget about shampoo, clean towels, toothpaste, mouthwash, and toilet tissue.
* The interiors of our homes are immaculate compared to the squalid interiors of almost all pre-industrial dwellings. These dwellings' floors were typically just dirt - which made the farm animals feel right at home when they wintered in the house
with humans. Of course, there was no indoor plumbing. Nor were there household disinfectants, save sunlight.
* Unfortunately, because pre-industrial window panes were too expensive for ordinary families-and because screens are an invention of the industrial age-sunlight and fresh air could be let into these cottages only by letting in insects too.
* Also, bizarre as it sounds to us today, the roofs of these dwellings were polluted with all manner of filthy or dangerous things.
Thatched roofs had formidable drawbacks; they rotted from alternations of wet and dry, and harbored a menagerie of mice, rats, hornets, wasps, spiders, and birds; and above all they caught fire. Yet even in London they prevailed.
* Our streets are clean. Here, again, is Braudel, commenting on Parisian streets in the late-eighteenth century: "And chamber pots, as always, continued to be emptied out of windows; the streets were sewers." Modem sewage disposal has disposed of this disgusting pollution. And that very symbol of twentieth-century capitalism-the automobile-has further cleaned our streets by ridding us of the constant presence of horse dung and of the swarms of flies it attracted.
* Consider, finally, a very recent victorious battle against pollution: toilets and urinals that automatically flush. Until a few years ago, every public toilet and urinal had to be flushed manually. Not so today. As automatic Rushers replace manual Rushers, we no longer must pollute our hands by touching filthy flush knobs.
THE REVOLUTION CONTINUES...
Off the Books
The benefits of free enterprise that economic statistics miss
By W. Michael Cox and Richard Alm
Capitalism creates wealth. During the last two centuries, the United States became the worlds richest nation as it embraced an economic system that promotes growth, efficiency, and innovation. Real GDP per capita tripled from 1900 to 1950; then it tripled again from 1950 to 2000, reaching $35,970.
The wealth didnt benefit just a few. It spread throughout society. For many people, owning a home defines the American Dream, and 68 percent of families now do -- the highest percentage on record. Three-quarters of Americans drive their own cars. The vast majority of households possess color televisions (98 percent), videocassette recorders (94 percent), microwave ovens (90 percent), frost-free refrigerators (87 percent), washing machines (83 percent), and clothes dryers (75 percent). In the past decade or so, computers and cell phones have become commonplace...
Less Work, More Play
.. the average workweek shrank from 59 hours in 1890 to 40 hours in 1950. Although today we hear stories about harried, overworked Americans who never seem to have enough time, the proportion of time spent on the job has continued to fall. Average weekly hours for production workers dropped from 39 in 1960 to 34 in 2001.
Since 1950 time off for holidays has doubled, to an average of 12 days a year. Weve added an average of four vacation days a year. Compared to previous generations, todays Americans are starting work later in life, spending less time on chores at home, and living longer after retirement. All told, 70 percent of a typical Americans waking lifetime hours are available for leisure, up from 55 percent in 1950.
Even at work, Americans arent always doing the bosss bidding. According to University of Michigan time diary studies, the average worker spends more than an hour a day engaged in something other than assigned work while on the job. Employees run errands, socialize with colleagues, make personal telephone calls, send e-mail, and surf the Internet. More than a third of American workers, a total of 42 million, access the Internet during working hours. The peak hours for submitting bids on eBay, the popular online auction site, come between noon and 6 p.m., when most Americans are supposedly hard at work.
With added leisure, the United States has turned arts, entertainment, and recreation into a huge industry. Since 1970, attendance per 100,000 people has risen for symphonies, operas, and theaters as well as for national parks and big-league sporting events. The annual Communications Industry Forecast, compiled by New Yorkbased Veronis, Suhler & Associates, indicates that we watch an average of 58 hours of movies at home each year. Yet Americans go out to an average of 5.4 movies a year, up from 4.5 three decades ago.
The number of amusement parks has increased from 362 in 1970 to 1,164 today. The number of health and fitness facilities has more than doubled, to 11,241...
Better Work Too
As the Industrial Revolution arrived in the 19th century, workers migrated from family farms to factories, from the Old World to the New World. They saw their paychecks rise but became, like Charlie Chaplins character in Modern Times, mere cogs in a vast engine of mass production. Work was often brutal. Early factories were noisy, smelly, and dirty; they were cold in the winter and hot in the summer. The labor itself was repetitive, physically exhausting, and often dangerous. It was a time of mind-numbing repetition, standing on assembly lines, nose to the conveyor belt. To eke out a meager living, employees toiled an average of 10 hours a day, Monday through Friday, plus another half-day on the weekend. Breaks were few and far between. Work rules were draconian: no talking, no eating or drinking, not a minute late punching the time clock...
More Americans than ever are free to choose the time and place for work, as long as the job gets done. In 1997, 28 percent of American workers were on flexible schedules, double the percentage in 1985. With laptop computers, cell phones, fax machines, electronic mail, and the Internet, fewer employees are tethered to the office. Telecommuting began with a handful of workers three decades ago. By 2001, 29 million Americans worked at least part of the time away from their companies places of business.
Work isnt just more pleasant. Its also safer. Occupational injuries and illnesses, as tallied by the National Safety Council, are at an all-time low of 63 per 1,000 workers. The number of Americans killed on the job has fallen to a record low of 38 per million workers, down from 87 in 1990 and 214 in 1960...
Although concerns about security have come to the fore since September 11, we shouldnt forget how far the United States has already come in making life safer. The toll of death and disease has been steadily reduced. Annual deaths per 1 million people are at an all-time low. The age-adjusted death rate has fallen by two-thirds since 1900. Fatalities from nearly all major diseases, tracked by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, have declined sharply from their peak rates. The rate of fatalities per 100,000 due to natural causes has fallen from 767 in 1950 to 422 in 1998, the most recent year for which data are available. The incidence of accidental deaths, both at home and on the job, is declining. So are fatalities associated with floods, tornadoes, and hurricanes.
Gains in transportation safety have been dramatic. In the five-year period ending in 2000, according to the Federal Highway Administration, annual deaths on American roads averaged 16 per billion miles driven, compared with 53 in the five years ending in 1970 and 83 for the postWorld War II years. The Air Transportation Association reports that deaths per billion passenger miles flown fell from 16.7 a year in 194650 to 1.3 in 196670 to 0.14 in 19962000...
We can also shift resources to the military to create an even more fearsome fighting force. During World War II, defense spending per capita averaged $3,475 a year in todays dollars, or 29 percent of total output. Today, each Americans share of the defense budget comes to $1,079, just 3 percent of GDP...
The U.S. marketplace teems with variety. Just since the early 1970s, theres been an explosion of choice: The number of car models is up from 140 to 239, soft drinks from 50 to more than 450, toothpaste brands from four to 35, over-the-counter pain relievers from two to 41.
The market offers 7,563 prescription drugs, 3,000 beers, 340 kinds of breakfast cereal, 50 brands of bottled water. Plain milk sits on the supermarket shelf beside skim milk, 0.5-percent-fat milk, 1-percent-fat milk, 2-percent-fat milk, lactose-reduced milk, hormone-free milk, chocolate milk, buttermilk, and milk with a shelf life of six months. Not long ago, the typical TV viewer had access to little more than NBC, CBS, ABC, and PBS. Today, more than 400 channels target virtually every consumer interest -- science, history, womens issues, Congress, travel, animals, foreign news, and more.
In 1970 the nations lone automated teller machine was at the main office of the Chemical Bank in New York. Now ATMs are ubiquitous -- not just at banks but at supermarkets, service stations, workplaces, sports facilities, and airports. All told, 273,000 machines offer access to cash 24 hours a day.
Remote controls are proliferating, the newest models incorporating voice-activated technology. Computers and digital devices go with us everywhere. A cell phone is no longer a pricey luxury: The average bill fell from $150 a month in 1988 to $45 in 2001 in constant dollars. No wonder 135 million Americans now own mobile telephones. The number will continue to rise as prices continue to decline and more of us seek the peace of mind and convenience that come with communications in the pocket or purse.
Convenience stores are in nearly every neighborhood. Just one firm, industry leader 7-Eleven, has increased its locations from 3,734 in 1970 to 21,142 today. The Internet may be the ultimate convenience store, bringing shopping into the home. Were buying music, clothing, software, shoes, toys, flowers, and other products with a click of the mouse. Last year, a third of all computers and a fifth of all peripherals were sold online. Thirty-three million buyers ordered books on the Internet, accounting for $1 of every $8 spent in that category...
Our desires have had a dramatic effect in recent decades. Levels of such major air pollutants as particulate matter, sulfur oxides, volatile organic compounds, carbon monoxide, and lead were at their peaks in 1970 or earlier. Levels of nitrogen oxides peaked in 1980. Water quality has improved since the 1960s, when authorities banned fishing in Lake Erie. Through government and private foundations, were spending billions of dollars every year to preserve natural areas from development and save threatened species from extinction...
The Industrial Revolution (1700 - Present)
World Population in 1700 was about 625 million; in 1980 it was over 4 billion]
· The making of machines to make machines was one of the most important aspects of the Industrial Revolution
· But it must not be forgotten that the making of machine tools can be traced back a great many centuries.
· The lathe, for example, is the oldest known machine tool and dates back to antiquity.
· However, the prestige of being the greatest machine tool maker in England probably belongs to John Wilkinson, the Ironmaster (1728-1808).
o He was the first to demonstrate that coke made from coal could be used in place of charcoal to produce quality iron on a large scale.
o He designed in 1779, the first all-iron bridge constructed in England (1781), and his factory cast the iron for it.
o During the late 1780s he minted his own "wage tokens" when the English government failed to produce enough coins for him to pay his workers.
o At the same time (1787) he built the first iron barge to transport his iron products down the River Severn.
o He was an able businessman and an industrial genius, whose name is attached today to Wilkinson razor blade.
· In England, the first patent had been granted in 1552.
· Their abuse by the Crown for the issue of money-raising grants of monopoly let Parliament in 1624 to declare that such privileges were grievous and inconvenient.
· However, the Crown was left free to grant exclusive rights under letters patent for not more than twenty-one years to "the first and true inventor or inventors of manufactures."
· Thomas Newcomen (1663-1729) was an English blacksmith, who invented an atmospheric engine.
o Steam was admitted to a cylinder, condensed by a jet of cold water, and the vacuum created on the inside of the cylinder allowed atmospheric pressure to operate a piston, which was forced downward on its working stroke.
o In partnership with Thomas Savery who had patented a steam pump along similar lines in 1698, Newcomen and his other partner, John Calley, built their first engine on the site of a water-filled mine shaft in 1712.
o Newcomen engines were slow and inefficient, but they were better than any other device yet invented for pumping water out of mines.
· The steam engine envisioned by James Watt (1736-1819) was suggested by a model Newcomen engine given to him to repair as part of his instrument-making duties for the University of Glasgow in 1765.
o His solution to the inefficiency of the Newcomen engine was to fit it with a separate condenser which could be connected to the cylinder by a valve.
o The condenser would be kept cool, while the cylinder would be kept hot (something not achieved by Newcomen).
o Although Watt patented his separate condenser in 1769, it was some years before he was to have a practical operating engine.
o Requested that Parliament extend the Watt patent until 1800 (rather than letting it expire in 1783)
o Numerous other improvements to Watt's original design ultimately insured the supremacy of the Watt engine over the Newcomen.
· Watt's engines were originally used for pumping out mine shafts, but within two decades they were powering rotative drive shafts in other machinery.
· To a large extent Watt's engine was responsible for many of the improvements in life brought about by the Industrial Revolution.
The Steam Locomotive and the Steamboat
· Watt's patent for the separate condenser covered the use of high pressure steam, but since he was fearful of boiler explosions and bursting pipes he refused to develop such an engine.
· He even went so far as to suppress the working model of a high pressure engine, made by his assistant William Murdock in 1785.
· When Watt's patent expired in 1800, there were other inventors in England and America who advocated the use of high pressure steam.
· Richard Trevithick (1771-1833): By 1801, he had perfected his designs for a cylindrical boiler and high pressure engine and built several full size steam carriages which were patented and run on the English roads.
· During the first decade of the l9th Century, he built several more steam carriages, known as locomotives, which were used for hauling coal and ore out of the mines.
· Railways had existed in Britain for about two centuries. They had first been wooden trackways along which horses hauled coal wagons to the nearest water transport. With the improvement in iron, wooden track was replaced by iron edged rails.
· Watt had regarded Trevithick's idea of placing a steam engine on wheels as highly irresponsible, but by 1825, people like Trevithick and George Stephenson (1781-1848), the leading figure among the early locomotive builders, had accomplished the seemingly impossible.
· Who would have believed that a fire burning steam engine would be able to propel a boxlike affair on wheels, carrying cargo many times its own weight?
· The first public railway in the world was opened in 1825 on the Stockton and Darlington line and was worked by a Stephenson locomotive.
· From then on it was only a matter of time until improvements were made in engines and rolling stock, especially by Stephenson's son, Robert. During the l9th Century, steam locomotives were exported from England to many countries of the world.
· These locomotives were one of the most important elements in reducing transportation time and costs and in allowing trade to flourish on inland routes. ...Again, mystic-free business was the relentless force responsible for creating and developing all important values.
· The idea of the steam-powered boat had many proponents during the 18th Century.
· Inventors/businessmen in different parts of the world arrived at different solutions to the problems inherent in floating a steam engine and using it to propel itself through water.
· What has been described as "the first practical steamboat" was built by William Symington (1763-1831) in Scotland in 1801.
· After he returned to America, Robert Fulton (1765-1815), who had built an experimental steamboat in France, constructed the "Clermont," with side paddles and powered by a Boulton and Watt engine. It began operations by carrying fare-paying passengers on the Hudson River in 1807, thus insuring its commercial success.
· Within decades steam-powered boats were making transatlantic crossings, providing merchants with increased ability to exchange their wares for foreign resources.
· Some of the most controversial inventions of all times have been connected with the textile industry.
· Their use often led to riots or passage of laws which prohibited their introduction.
· Man's need for clothing has been a constant since the beginning of time and the spinning of wool fibre into yarn and the weaving of cloth have been staple industries in large parts of the world.
· The loom is of ancient origin, but the first modern invention to increase its efficiency was the flying shuttle patented by John Kay in 1733. This was a device that resulted in greater production from a single loom, cloth of greater width, and reduced the need for as many people to tend the looms. This was done by redesigning the mechanism which feeds out the weft, which is the thread that crosses the warp.
· Kay's device became immediately unpopular with weavers because of their fear of becoming unemployed. In 1755 he was attacked by a mob who destroyed one of his looms. He died a destitute man in 1764, although his flying shuttle was used widely after his death.
· The next major improvements in textile machinery were brought about by Richard Arkwright's (1732-1792) spinning machine and James Hargreaves' (d. 1778) invention of the jenny in the same year that Kay died.
· Arkwright's spinning frame required mechanical power and began the move from spinning as a cottage industry to the factory system.
· It produced the first satisfactory cotton warp, which made possible the manufacture of all-cotton goods. Hargreaves' machine used a patented roller and carriage system which made it possible to use finer and stronger yarns than ever before.
· Others, like Edmund Cartwright, became interested in applying mechanical power to hand looms, when in 1784 he had a chance encounter with some gentlemen from Manchester, who "observed that as soon as Arkwright's patent expired so many cotton mills would be erected and so much cotton spun that hands could never be found to weave it."
· This was in stark contrast to the English workmen who were led by Ned Lud (circa 1779) to break up stocking frames because they feared for their jobs.
· Years later, during the second decade of the l9th Century, when other textile workers rioted and broke up more labor-saving machinery, these disturbances were known as "Luddite riots" and the men who took part in them were known as "Luddites."
· These Luddites could not reconcile the fact that labor-saving machinery itself had to be produced and would ultimately increase the demand for human labor, not lessen it.
· The history of inventions in the textile industry illustrates how "as new machines radically improved output in one branch of the trade, a need was straightaway felt for fresh inventions to enable other branches to catch up with the demand for their products."
· By the time Cartwright was done perfecting his power loom, the whole English cotton manufacturing industry was in need of increased supplies of raw cotton.
· Until the early 1790s the production of cotton in the South of the United States was languishing because one slave could only clean a pound of cotton a day. Eli Whitney (1765-1825), while travelling to Georgia, perceived the need for an improved device to clean cotton. During the winter of 1792, he worked out the details and soon after built a factory to go into production.
· Although patented, Whitney's gin was so simple that imitations soon appeared. Competitors refused to pay royalties, and Whitney's legal efforts to combat infringement on his patent ended up costing him more than he gained. His invention also had a significant effect on the course of history.
· Probably no development increased the demand for textile products more than the invention of the sewing machine in the mid-l9th Century.
· The sewing machine was also unique in that it was the first major consumer appliance.
· Elias Howe (1819-1867), a Massachusetts mechanic, designed his first machine in 1843. It was based on a lock stitch, which originally limited sewing to straight seams.
· It was Isaac Singer (1811-1876) of Boston who invented the first really practical, domestic sewing machine in 1851. His was the first machine to have a straight needle, foot treadle, and the ability to sew curved seams.
· Although Howe won a patent infringement suit against Singer, the home demand for sewing machines was so great that it rendered the judgment harmless. Singer widely marketed his machines by selling them on the installment basis.
Steel and the Skyscraper
· Henry Bessemer (1813-1898) is the man whose name we associate today with one of the major processes of producing steel.
· William Kelly, an American, had originally conceived of a system of air-blowing the carbon out of pig iron, but went bankrupt in 1857. At the same time, Bessemer, in England, purchased Kelly's American patent, because he had been experimenting with a similar process for making steel. Bessemer had patented his own decarbonization process, utilizing a blast of air, in England in 1855.
· Bessemer initially encountered difficulties in commercially producing steel by his method because he was unaware of the importance of high quality iron ore to the process.
· Eventually he was successful and his steel works at Sheffield specialized in producing ordinance guns for the military and steel rails.
· It was Bessemer's discovery of a process for making steel cheaply which led to its use in the construction industry.
· However, the advent of the skyscraper was the result of the efforts of another inventor. George A. Fuller (1851-1900), as a young man, was employed in his uncle's architectural office, drawing building plans. He soon became interested in the problem of load bearing capacities and how much weight each part of a building would carry. During the 1880s he went to Chicago and set up business as a building contractor, where his firm built the Tacoma Building in 1889. This was the first structure ever built in which the outer walls carried no burden and served no purpose other than to keep out the elements and provide a cosmetic facade.
· Eventually he and an architect, Daniel Bumham, were called to New York to design and build an office building on a small triangular plot of land in downtown Manhattan. Fuller told the land owners that he could construct a 21 story building, which was twice the height that he could achieve if they limited him to conventional materials, such as stone or brick. The building weight would rest on Bessemer steel beams, which would be riveted together in the form of cages, thus tying the whole building together.
· Despite great public skepticism that winds would blow the walls in or bend the steel cages, the Flatiron Building at the corner of Broadway and 23rd was one of New York's first skyscrapers in 1902.
· Once George Fuller and the construction firm he created paved the way, others followed and today about half of all the large apartments and office buildings in this country are built on his steel cage system.
The Electric Telegraph
· The invention of the telegraph is usually credited to Samuel F. B. Morse (1791-1872). Although he did invent the Morse code, the real credit should be given to two Englishmen, William Cooke (1806-1879) and Charles Wheatstone (1802-1875).
· Cooke became intrigued with the telegraph in 1836, when he saw the demonstration of an early system given by a Russian diplomat. The two men teamed up and devised an instrument that contained six wires and five operating needles, rather than a wire for each letter of the alphabet, which was common in other contemporary telegraphic devices.
· In 1839, they installed a telegraph line along the Great Western Railway and it was used initially to report on the position of trains. Railway signalling was virtually nonexistent up until this time.
· The Cooke and Wheatstone telegraph holds two world's records: it was the first telegraph to be offered to the public as a commercial service and it represents the first use of electricity in a commercial enterprise in the world.
· During the same era (late 1830s - early 1840s), Morse in the United States was importuning Congress for funds in order to develop his own system. After a difficult struggle (during which Morse made U.S. Congressman F. 0. J. Smith, Chairman of the Committee on Commerce in 1838, his financial partner) the money was appropriated and a telegraph line built between Baltimore and Washington, D.C. The first message was sent in 1844, using Morse's code. In time, his single strand and single needle system proved its effectiveness and became widely used.
Electricity Generation and Electric Lighting
· Electric lighting was in commercial use long before Thomas Edison (1847-1931) built his first successful incandescent lamp in the early 1880s.
· The electric light, prior to Edison, was nothing usually more than an arc, jumping between two carbon rods. The brilliant light from a pair of rods equalled, if not excelled, that provided by its nearest rival, the gas lamp.
· But the carbon arc lamp was only found in limited use since it required constant attention, and was noisy and smoky.
· The incandescent filament lamp which Edison in the United States and Joseph Swan in England collaborated on, used the same principle as today's electric light bulb. Edison and Swan had the advantage of using the first really efficient vacuum pumps to evacuate the air from glass globes. Once that had been accomplished, Edison had to search for a long-lasting conductor or filament, which would also burn brightly.
· Edison opened the first commercial electric power generating plant in the United States. This was his Pearl Street plant in New York City, which began operations on September 14, 1882.
· The growth of the electric light industry can be seen by looking at the initial number of lamps powered by Edison's generators. When service was inaugurated, they supplied electricity to 2,323 lamps. Two years later, in 1884, there were 11,272 lamps in 500 premises, while the individual generators that Edison sold were lighting nearly 60,000 more lamps. Some quarter million lamps were in use in the United States by 1885.
· From such an inauspicious beginning, Edison and other inventors like George Westinghouse were soon supplying power not only to electric lights, but to electric motors and eventually to appliances in millions of homes and factories across the country.
· Edison had to create the electric power industry from scratch. With practically no precedent as his guide, Edison had to conceive the necessities, invent, design, and build everything from dynamos, station switches, regulators, fuses, ammeters, rheostats and all the other many things required to produce and distribute electricity. He even helped guide his laborers in the laying of power lines in New York City streets. It is literally a miracle that this one man made a completely workable system as early as 1882. The benefits we derive from electric lighting today largely stem from his unremitting efforts to commercialize and market his new discoveries.
· By 1906, the tungsten filament lamp was introduced (and later nitrogen filled) and this lamp had three times the illumination per watt of Edison's original carbon lamp.
· It was feared by some naysayers that the central electric power stations would suffer a decrease in demand as a result of this improved product. Rather than diminishing the consumption of electric power, the new lamps and other new electrical inventions coming on the market during the early l900s (such as the vacuum cleaner, electric stove, dishwasher, and laundry machine) stimulated electricity consumption beyond the wildest dreams of those living in the late l9th Century.
Road Construction and Mail Delivery
· Two generally accepted functions of government are, as expressed in the Constitution of the United States, "to establish post offices and post roads."
· The history of postal service dates back to the ancient Eastern empires, where maintaining control over wide areas required rapid and frequent communication.
· This has essentially remained the motive behind state provision of both of these services: to insure official control of communications and traffic.
· As early as 1657, the postal service was made a state monopoly in England, but even then many reforms, such as the London Penny Post, inaugurated in 1680, were the result of private competition with the state service.
· The same was true in the United States. During the early 1840s, many private express companies came into existence. At first they only carried packages (like United Parcel Service, today), but eventually their efficient service led their customers to request that they handle letter delivery, as well.
· People like Henry Wells (1805-1878 (the Wells of Wells-Fargo) offered a far-flung delivery service across the country. On his Philadelphia-New York route, he charged six cents against the government's twenty-five and gave just as prompt service. At one point Wells offered to carry the government's mail for one-fifth of its published rate, but his offer was rejected out of hand.
· Lysander Spooner (1808-1887) of the American Letter Mail Company claimed that the government's monopoly over the postal service was unconstitutional. In 1844, he pointed out that the real reason the post office loathed competition was that "government functionaries, secure in the enjoyment of warm nests, large salaries, official honors and power, and presidential smiles, feel few quickening impulses to labor."
· Rather than relinquish their monopoly, the government lowered its postage rates to a point at which it became unprofitable for the private expresses to compete. In 1851, the government rate of 3 cents covered sending a letter to any point in the country.
· Public roads were most often the responsibility of local government authorities, both in England and the United States. Until the automobile became popular in the early 20th Century, these roads were usually poorly cared for and in dreadful condition.
· On the other hand, private turnpike companies which originated in the latter part of the 18th Century, often provided their stockholders a small rate of return on their investments. These turnpikes were toll roads which charged a fee for the use of the road.
The Internal Combustion Engine and the Horseless Carriage
· The internal combustion engine as we know it today is the result of the contributions of hundreds of experimenters, engineers, and scientists.
· Its origins can be traced back to the late 17th Century when the idea was conceived of exploding gunpowder inside a cylinder in order to move a piston. The first really successful internal combustion engine was produced by a French engineer, Etienne Lenoir (1822-1900), in 1860. In 1876, Nikolaus Otto (1832-1891) built the first engine on the four stroke principle.
· Gottlieb Daimler (1834-1900), one of his employees, introduced the idea of using gasoline as a combustion agent rather than coal gas. Daimler fitted his engine into a primitive motor cycle. The next year, 1886, Karl Benz (1844-1929) fitted an engine of his own design to a four wheeled cart, to produce the first forerunner of the modern automobile.
· The original horseless carriages were cumbersome contraptions, and had been powered by steam engines as far back as the late 18th Century. They met great public resistance on two accounts: stagecoach owners were afraid that horseless carriages would mean the end of their business, and the general public found that their horses were scared of the machines.
· Eventually in country after country, neocheaters succeeded in harassing experimenters and laws were passed forbidding the use of steam engines on roads. In England, mysticism triumphed when Parliament passed the Locomotive on Highways Act in 1865. Popularly referred to as the "Red Flag Law," it stipulated that all self-propelled vehicles on public highways be limited to a maximum speed of four miles per hour and be preceded by a man on foot carrying a red flag to warn oncoming horse-drawn vehicles. Although the law was amended in 1878, it still retained the speed limit and required two people to operate the vehicle and a third to go ahead at danger spots, like intersections, and give a warning.
· Rather than try to compete, stagecoach owners succumbed to laziness and tried to cling to the existing state of affairs. Fortunately, such laws were unknown in the United States.
· In 1879, a Rochester patent attorney and experimenter, George Selden, had applied for and was eventually granted a patent on the gasoline automobile. Although he had never built a self-propelled vehicle himself (the most he had done was some experimentation with a gasoline powered engine), by being the first to file a patent application, he effectively secured himself a monopoly on his so-called invention.
· By the time the patent was granted in 1895 (it was not scheduled to expire until 17 years later), Selden had amended his original application several times, and been able to incorporate many of the technological advances brought about by other inventors. When his patent was bought by an automotive syndicate, eventually designated the Association of Licensed Automobile Manufacturers, it was used to levy a royalty of 1.25% on the retail value of every auto sold in the United States.
· All of the major United States manufacturers and many of the makers of foreign cars imported into the United States at that time paid this tribute. However, Henry Ford refused to pay the royalty and challenged the validity of the Selden patent in court. After a half-dozen years of litigation, an appeals court finally upheld Ford's position that the Selden patent should be narrowly interpreted and that Selden, in fact, had contributed nothing to the development of a practical road vehicle.
· When Orville (1871-1948) and Wilbur (1867-1912) Wright made their first successful flight in a heavier-than-air machine in 1903, they probably had no idea of the military or commercial significance of their invention.
· Although primitive gliders and balloons had been used during the later half of the l9th Century, only a few farsighted people realized the transportation possibilities of the airplane. Barnstormers soon showed the commercial possibilities of air service and it was left to those early pioneers to develop commercial aviation.
· Probably no other invention has been so influenced by the advent of two world wars in the same century. World War I broke out just as the plane was becoming a practical means of transport. It was immediately adapted to military purposes, such as reconnaissance, strafing, and bombing both on land and at sea. Both World War I and World War II accelerated improvements in aircraft performance, such as increased flying speeds due to new engine developments. Nor should it be forgotten that the first atomic bombs used in warfare were dropped from airplanes over Japan.
Radio, Television, and Radar
· Guglielmo Marconi (1874-1919) was the person most responsible for bringing the use of radio waves out of the university laboratory and into industry.
· The first radio transmission occurred in 1886, when Heinrich Hertz (1857-1894), a German professor of physics, was trying to prove the light and electrical wave theories of a Scottish physicist, James Clerk Maxwell (1831-1879).
· By 1897, Marconi succeeded in building his `wireless' telegraph, which at first was limited to the transmission of morse code signals. In 1897, Marconi was instrumental in forming a company in London to market his new invention.
· Its utility in saving life at sea was demonstrated for the first time in 1899, when it enabled life boats to be quickly dispatched to a vessel sinking off the English coast. Within a decade the first broadcasts of speeches were made by wireless, and this marked the beginning of a new industry: commercial news and entertainment. The first commercial broadcasting stations began shortly after the end of World War I.
· Both television and radar were logical spin-offs of the radio. The former had far more commercial possibilities, while the latter was primarily developed for its military uses before and during World War II.
· Although the transmission of pictures by wireless took place in the late 1920s and during the 1930s, it was not until after World War II that the television really became popular and within the budget of the majority of consumers. Commercial firms, such as the Baird Television Development Company in Britain, and Westinghouse Electric and Radio Corporation of America (RCA) in the United States were basically responsible for the development of television.
The Instant Picture and The Instant Copy
· The first photograph was taken in 1826, and since then there have been many advances, which ultimately culminated in the Polaroid Land Camera and the Xerox photocopier.
· The convenience of "instant prints" is hard to beat and has a wide market. The process that provides an instant picture was perfected in 1947 by the American inventor Edwin H. Land. A film pack containing both positive and negative film and developer was designed and in 1963 extended to accommodate color photographs.
· The xerox process was initially developed in the kitchen of a New York patent lawyer, Chester Carlson, in 1938. Eventually the Haloid Company of Rochester made the process commercially practicable in the form of the Xerox 914 photocopier which was brought out in late 1959. Since then the market has been flooded with Xerox copiers as well as machines made by its competition.
The Calculating Devices and The Computer
· The ancestor of the modern calculator can be traced back to an adding machine invented by Blaise Pascal in 1642.
· During the 19th Century many calculating machines (which could both add and multiply) were manufactured, such as those by W. S. Burroughs (1857-1898) whose results could be recorded on a roll of paper.
· The ancestry of the modern computer, which does far more than calculate (as it can be used for the processing, storage and retrieval of all kinds of information) can be traced back to the conceptions of Charles Babbage (1792-1871), a mathematics professor at Cambridge University in England, and Herman Hollerith, an American statistician who worked for the U.S. Census Bureau during the 1890s. Hollerith developed a punched card system and electro-mechanical counters to record census data. After leaving the Census Bureau, he founded the Tabulating Machine Company in 1896, and developed the principle of entering data by means of a keyboard in 1901. By 1924, as a result of several mergers, Hollerith's original company became the International Business Machines Corporation, or IBM, as we know it today.
· The IBM corporation was one of the pioneers in bringing about the realization of some of Charles Babbage's ideas. Babbage had envisioned an analytical engine, which could not only compute, but store or memorize the data it was working on.
· Researchers at Harvard University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and the University of Pennsylvania, along with research scientists at IBM, all contributed to the evolution of the modern electronic computer.
· The first real demand for computers came from the United States Government, which wanted to use them to prepare ballistic tables for wartime use and later for census use.
· However, IBM eventually realized that the computer had a far wider potential in industry and in the home, and actively promoted the computer in these areas.
· The development of nuclear power, by physicists and scientists -- generally employed by the governments of the world -- is an example of the profound influence that technology can have on the course of history.
· From the Encyclopedia of Inventions: "The unleashing of atomic energy was unquestionably one of the most significant events in the long history of civilization."
· The basic fission process entails bombarding the uranium atom with neutrons. The uranium atom, which absorbs the neutron, is split into two lighter elements, but the mass of the products is slightly less than that of the original uranimum. The difference is released as energy. The importance of the fission process is that it starts a chain reaction, by releasing further neutrons, which spark off further fissions.
· From the Encyclopedia of Inventions: "If this chain reaction takes place slowly, the result is a release of power which can be used to generate electricity. If it takes place very rapidly, the result is an atomic bomb."
· Since man is capable of regulating the rate at which these chain reactions take place, he is capable of harnessing atomic energy for life-sustaining as well as life-destroying purposes.
· At the outbreak of World War II, scientists all over the world were familiar with the principles involved in nuclear fission. The theoretical and experimental data had been published for all to read. The United States Government employed war-time scientists who led the way in translating these theoretical principles into practice. Work was undertaken at the University of Chicago; Oak Ridge, Tennessee; and Los Alamos, New Mexico, (subsumed under the master name of the Manhattan Project) to develop a workable atomic bomb.
· A successful nuclear explosion was detonated in the New Mexican desert on July 16, 1945, and by August, 1945, the first two nuclear bombs had been exploded over Nagasaki and Hiroshima.
· At the end of World War II, it was clear that there were two separate paths of development: the military one leading to more and more powerful weapons that eventually would threaten to blow up the entire world, and a peaceful, commercial one leading to the use of nuclear power in the production of electricity. The nuclear story is by no means finished.
There are a number of different lessons to be learned from a study of these technological contributions to man's civilization.
Robert LeFevre: "There are only two sources from which all the difficulties we face arise. There are difficulties caused by nature and there are difficulties caused by man."