How Far Was the Period 1750 to 1900 an Age of Progress?

Topics: Chartism, Working class, Industrial Revolution Pages: 6 (2167 words) Published: June 24, 2007
From 1750 to 1900 there were some big changes which had an impact on every day life. Progress is defined as continuous improvement over a certain period of time. A revolution can be known as a big change. So a revolution, and then everything being at a standstill isn't progress. Furthermore you cannot improve over a period of time and have big hindrances in between; if any, hindrances can only be very minor. So the big question is how much consistent improvement was there from 1750 to 1900?

In 1700 there was an exponential growth in the population, food was scarce and more needed to be produced therefore agricultural needed change. The idea of ‘Enclosures' was introduced which meant combining the little strips of land owned by various farmers and surrounding them with fences. Also animals were now unable to spread disease by wondering off to other farms and many people cashed in as more animals were surviving thus more meat, sheep fur etc. However, people in the vicinity lost their rights to cut timber from woodland and graze their animals so ultimately common land was off limits. Some people could not afford it either. Enclosures were only used if 80% of villagers agreed to do so (so the majority benefited) and considering that open fields were abolished after 50 years, it was overall, much more productive and the statistics confirm this. New machinery was used to separate crops from stocks and fertilisers were being introduced, discovered and utilised in the newly introduced four field crop rotation. Hand labourers did lose jobs, but they now were able to move to factories, earn a better salary and work in better conditions The four field crop rotation an improvement of the three field crop rotation where rather than leaving part of the land fallow it would be used. Now all the land was being utilised and animals were grazing (also fertilising it with manure) on the (once fallow) land where crops were also being grown and this obviously meant more efficiency. Selective breeding was a new concept used to beef up already money bringing animals so they produced more meat (once again more food), thus help people economically. Overall there was steady progression in agricultural and in the end everybody benefited.

Industry was relatively dull around the 1750s, not inefficient necessarily but certain things could have been improved to make things easier as well as more efficient. One of the main things introduced was intricate machinery which cut down the time consuming tasks drastically. The Flying Shuttle, invented in 1733, took the textile industry by storm, it was a machine which could speed up weaving and inevitably produce more cloth. This was improved many times over until finally in 1785 the Power Loom was made which utilised water and steam power. Weaving was then being made at a very good pace and produced consistent quality of cloth. In 1767 probably the most influential Spinning Jenny was made which could produce 8 times more yarn than done with hand and of very fine quality. Later on a water frame was made, but wasn't a big improvement on the Spinning Jenny. Finally the Spinning Mule was made in 1779 and could spin 48 spindles of cotton at a time and it produced very durable and fine yarn. In the end quite a lot of handloom weavers and spinners had lost their jobs however due to the introduction of "factories", this problem was eradicated. Factories were depicted as hateful, godforsaken places which were cruel however considering many only worked in them as last resort jobs, they were very good. Working condition were only exhibited in the harshest factories and told a very negative story about them. A prime example is George Cruickshank who portrays factories as very cruel, violent towards children through a cartoon. Baring in mind there were very little working rules and regulations at the time, the mill owners were very generous. It is fair criticism that women and children were...
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