3 May 2011
How the Industrial Revolution Affects Today
The Industrial Revolution that rocked America's economic and social structure was a magnificent tool of change. The massive influx of industry that it brought with it changed the lives of millions of people. The Industrial Revolution marked a turning point in American history. Almost every aspect of daily life was influenced in some way. “For the first time in history, the living standards of the masses of ordinary people have begun to undergo sustained growth…Nothing remotely like this economic behavior has happened before” (Robert E. Lucas, 1997). Steam power, machine-based manufacturing, water power, improved communication, and railroads were just the tip of the iceberg as far as technological innovations went. The effects spread throughout Western Europe and North America during the 19th century, eventually affecting most of the world. The impact of this change on society was enormous. The changes, both positive and negative, of this industrialization can still be felt today in modern America.
The Industrial Revolution began in Great Britain during the 1700s. It started spreading to other parts of Europe and to North America in the early 1800s. By the mid-1800s, industrialization had become widespread in Western Europe and the northeastern United States. The Industrial Revolution created an enormous increase in the production of many kinds of goods. Some of this increase in production resulted from the introduction of power-driven machinery and the development of factory organization. Before the revolution, manufacturing was done by hand or simple machines. Most people worked at home in rural areas. A few worked in shops in towns as part of associations called guilds. The Industrial Revolution eventually took manufacturing out of the home and workshop. Power-driven machines replaced handwork, and factories developed as the best way of bringing together the
Cited: Lucas, Robert E., Jr. Lectures on Economic Growth, Cambridge, Harvard University Press. 2002 Cowan, Ruth Schwartz, A Social History of American Technology, New York: Oxford University Press. 1997 Burke, John G., "Bursting Boilers and the Federal Power", Technology and American History, 1997