Britain’s perfect position, financial systems, political stability, and natural resources sparked industrialization. The British merchants built the first factories. Then, the Industrial Revolution spread to the United States and continental Europe. Countries that have similar conditions also industrialized.

  • Industrial Development in the United States

    The United States had similar resources to Britain. America had fast rivers, natural coal and iron ore, and a supply of laborers. During the War of 1812, America was blocked off by the British from international trade. This blockade led to the development of independent industries, industries that would manufacture the goods the US could not import.

    • Industrialization in the United States
      • The industrialization in the United States also started with the textile industry. Britain had forbidden their engineers from sharing their secrets. However, a British mill worker named Samuel Slater emigrated to the US. He created a spinning machine from memory and a partial design. The next year, Moses Brown opened a factory to house the machines. This Pawtucket factory produced the thread used in finished cloth.
      • In 1813, Francis Lowell from Boston and four other investors mechanized every stage in making cloth. They created a weaving factory in Waltham which made them so much money they could make another operation in Massachusetts. After Lowell’s death, the other partners named a town after him. Lowell, Massachusetts became a manufacturing center and model for other towns.
      • Thousands of women went to work as mill girls in factories. There, they would have wages and independence. However, they were closely watched and worked 12 hours a day, 6 days a week. However, it was still lucrative job compared to being a servant.
      • Textiles were first but clothing and shoemaking also became mechanized. In the northeast, skilled workers and farmers began working in factories in towns and cities such as Waltham, Lowell, and Lawrence. (Massachusetts)
    • Later Expansion of U.S. Industry
      • The Northeast expanded greatly in the 1800s. Even so, the United States remained agricultural until 1865 when the Civil War ended. Then, the country boomed as natural resources and a burst of inventions led to more manufactured goods. The growing population used nthese goods.
      • Similar to Britain, railroads also influenced America’s industrialization. Cities such as Chicago and Minneapolis expanded rapidly due to their location along railroad lines. Chicago’s stockyards and Minneapolis’s grain industry prospered by selling and shipping products. The railroads were also profitable, with large companies controlling 2/3 of the national railroads. All kinds of businesses joined together like the railroads, small companies could merge and grow.
    • The Rise of Corporations
      • Large businesses needed a lot of money to get started. Entrepreneurs came up with “stock”, or rights of ownership. This made people who bought stock partial owners of these corporations. A corporation is a business owned by stockholders who share in profits but are not responsible for debts. Corporations could now raise large amounts of money to invest in industrial equipment.
      • By the late 1800s, large corporations such as Standard Oil (Rockefeller) and Carnegie Steel Company (Andrew Carnegie) formed. They began to create a monopoly on their industry so they could reduce cost of producing goods and charge high prices on their products. The workers would earn low wages for long hours while stockholders and corporate leaders make fortunes.
  • Continental Europe Industrializes

    Parts of Continental Europe also wanted to adopt the “British miracle”. However, the French Revolution, Napoleonic wars, etc. had slowed trade, communication and caused economic trouble. This led to the other European countries industrializing later than Britain.

    • Beginnings in Belgium
      • Belgium was first to adopt British technologies. Belgium had iron ore, coal, and waterways. British immigrants played a key role in jump starting the industrialization.
      • Samuel Slater smuggled the spinning machine to the US. William Cockerill brought his to Belgium in 1799. These secret plans allowed them to build spinning machinery. His son, John, built an enormous industry empire producing steam engines and locomotives. These machines were the most up-to-date as more British workers came to work with Cockerill.
      • Several other British workers founded their own companies.
    • Germany Industrializes
      • Germany was politically weak, as economic isolation and scattered resources prevented nationwide industrialization. However, small pockets of industrialization appeared in the coal-rich Ruhr Valley of west-central Germany. The Germans began to copy the British model in 1835, importing British equipment and personnel. German manufacturers also sent their children to England to learn management skills.
      • Germany also built railroads linking its manufacturing cities like Frankfort to natural resources. The newfound economic strength allowed it to develop into a military power. Germany became both an industrial and military giant.
    • Expansion Elsewhere in Europe
      • Industrialization in the rest of Europe also started in small patches. These pockets of industrialization were close to agriculture and other resources. Bohemia had a spinning industry, Catalonia has cotton, Italy had silk/textiles, and serfs ran factories in Moscow and St. Petersburg.
      • France’s industrial growth occurred in 1830. The French industry was better measured and controlled, therefore, there were no major social-economic issues like in other nations. A national market for French products developed in 1850 when the government constructed railroads.
      • Many other European countries did not industrialize. They were limited by the social structure, geography, and more. In Austria-Hungary, and Spain, transportation was an obstacle. The Austrian mountains blocked railroad builders and Spain had no roads or canals
  • The Impact of Industrialization

    The Industrial Revolution increase competition between industrialized nations and less-developed nations.

    • Rise of Global Inequality
      • Industrialization widened the wealth gap between industrialized and non-industrialized countries. However, their economies were still tied together as industrial countries needed raw materials from other lands. Also, the industrialized countries saw the poor countries as new markets.
      • Britain began exploiting oversea colonies. Other countries such the US, Russia, and Japan followed the lead and seized colonies for resources. This imperialism gave more power and wealth to already wealthy nations. This was born out of the need to supply factories with resources and for developing new markets.
    • Transformation of Society
      • From 1700 to 1900, revolutions in agriculture, production, transportation, and communication changed people’s lives in Western Europe and the US. Industrial gave Europe economic power. Meanwhile, Asia and Africa were small agricultural societies. Despite hardships, the middle class created many opportunities for education and democracy. This lead to social reform.