Industrialization in Nineteenth Century Europe

Topics: Karl Marx, Communism, Marxism Pages: 6 (2315 words) Published: March 9, 2008
One of the most influential centuries during human history is the nineteenth century. During this century the world, especially Europe, experienced radical change--change that revolutionized the world, as everyone knew it to be. It was a century of war, of industrialization, of urbanization, and of nationalism. The major development of the nineteenth century was the Industrial Revolution. Every aspect of the nineteenth century is most likely directly influenced by the Industrial Revolution, from normal everyday life of commoners to the rulers of countries and major powers of Europe. The Industrial Revolution encompassed every area of nineteenth century Europe. Whether it was the technological marvels of the day that influenced European Imperialism, to the hard life of nineteenth century populace, or to the political and social philosophies of the day, the Industrial Revolution stamped its mark on society. Throughout the nineteenth century, European imperialism dominated the world. "Europeans occupied or controlled thirty-five percent of the land surface of the world; by 1878 this figure had risen to sixty-seven percent, and by 1914 over eighty-four percent of the world's land area was European-dominated." One of the main reasons—if not the main reason—for European Imperialism during the nineteenth century was the Industrial Revolution. "The effects of technological change were experienced almost everywhere in [the] nineteenth century." The massive amounts of inventions and new technologies being formed brought about the ability to connect the continents, countries, and nations in ways that have never been seen before, but at the same time it allowed nations easier access to conquest for new territories. It is because of the Industrial Revolution that European conquest engulfs the nineteenth century world and Imperialism rules. With 3

industry burning like an uncontrollable fire and Imperialism on the minds of every nation of the nineteenth century world, the changes experienced, especially in Europe, were up until that point unobserved by the world. A major invention during the nineteenth century that aided Imperialism was the steamboat. "Few inventions of the nineteenth century were as important in the history of imperialism." With the introduction of the steamboat the ability to travel far distances with heavy loads of equipment became faster. The powerful steamboat could travel fast going upriver and downriver. Because of this, cities and countries that were connected by river could get products and equipment delivered with better efficiency. "By 1820 hundreds of steamboats plied the rivers and lakes of Europe, and a few were venturing out into the Mediterranean, the Channel, and the Irish Sea. From that point on, the history of the steam vessels took a new turn." Through the nineteenth century the steamboat's capabilities were being used for other means than just commercialism. The steamboat now had capabilities to become a warship. At this time, "no single piece of equipment is so closely associated with the idea of imperialism as is the armed shallow draft steamer, in other words, the gunboat." The gunboat was put to use when fighting broke out on shallow waters. For Britain, the gunboat was used for fights in the waters of the Black and Baltic seas. "The Opium War was the first event whose outcome was determined by specially built gunboats." The gunboat was an impressive ship, possessing all the qualities of the steamboat, yet it could be put to use in shallow water 4

combat as well. The steamboat and the gunboat were technological marvels of their time, bringing about change in commercialism and warfare. Although these inventions where important tools for imperialism the "small river craft[s] became so common that they were taken for granted, as the attention turned to the…[massive] ocean-going steamships." In order for European Imperialism to grow, there needed to...

Cited: Dickens, Charles. Hard Times. New York: New American Library. 1997.
Headrick, Daniel R. The Tools of Empire Technology and European Imperialism in the Nineteenth Century. New York: Oxford University Press, 1981.
Marx, Karl and Friedrich Engels. The Communist Manifesto.
New York: Bantam Books, 1992.
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