Chapter 18 Industrial Revolution in the West: 1700-1914
Industrial Revolution: Second Phase
The Industrial Revolution of
eighteenth and early nineteenth century Britain spread to the United
States and then to the rest of Europe.
Great Britain was the leading industrial state until the 1860s;
Germany and the United States rapidly caught up afterwards.
France and Russia began to develop their own industries as well.
By the early 1900s, the European world was transformed.
A new kind of energy source,
electricity, came into use during the nineteenth century.
At first employed for communication, electricity became a source
of power that dramatically changed life and work.
telegraph and telephone. Scientists
discovered the principles of an electric circuit in the early 1800s.
In 1832, Samuel F. B. Morse of the United States conceived a
system for switching a circuit on and off to transmit messages in a code
of short and long stops ("dots and dashes").
Morse tested his system in 1844, and by the 1860s telegraph lines
on land and undersea connected much of the world.
light and power. Before
the 1870s, batteries were the only source of useful electricity. However, the English scientist Michael Faraday had shown in
1831 that spinning a metal armature in a magnetic field could generate
an electric current. Using
steam engines to spin the armatures, machines called generators
could supply a continuous flow of electricity to attached circuits.
In 1878, Thomas Edison conceived a system for generating electric
power to supply incandescent lamps that he designed, and in 1882 Edison
began lighting part of New York City from an electrical generating
station. A rival, George
Westinghouse, devised a system that could send electric power over much
longer distances. The
Westinghouse system replaced the Edison one for most uses of
In addition to lighting homes and workplaces, electricity
supplied power to streetcars and to machinery in factories.
With electricity, machines in factories no longer needed to be
connected to a nearby source of power by means of wheels and shafts.
Factories could rely on power generated many miles away. Electricity could also power smaller machines, which furthered
the mechanization of small businesses and led to new household
appliances that changed domestic life and work. Refrigeration enabled a wider range of food products, especially
fresh meat, to be delivered over longer distances.
power did not lessen the need for coal.
Generating plants located away from sources of water power still needed
to use steam to operate generators.
Coal was the fuel for producing this steam and it was also the
main source of home and workplace heating until well into the twentieth
century. Refined petroleum
and natural gas eventually took its place.
Chemicals and New Machines
New chemical industries also
arose in the nineteenth century. More
economical processes for making steel provided a stronger material for
building. Refined petroleum
at first provided lighting and then supplied the energy for a new kind
of vehicle, the automobile. Smaller
chemical industries supplied soap to consumers, dyes for clothing, and
specialized products for agriculture and industry.
Steel was a stronger form of iron traditionally produced in small
quantities for weapons. In
1856 the British engineer Henry Bessemer developed a blast process that
made steel from iron much more economically.
The Scottish-born American Andrew Carnegie began making steel
rails with the Bessemer process on a large scale in the United States in
the 1870s. The new rails lasted seven times longer than iron ones and
could carry heavier trains.
The use of steel for railways spread to Europe and the world.
A few years after Bessemer, the German-born William Siemens
developed in England the "open-hearth" method for producing
Open-hearth steel took longer to make but was better suited for
buildings and bridges. As urban land became more expensive, tall
buildings became economical, especially after the invention of the
elevator. Buildings in
American cities grew taller after the 1890s.
European cities were less willing to alter their traditional
appearance and did not allow buildings as tall as in America until the
end of the twentieth century. Structural
steel allowed bridges of longer span to cross great rivers. John A. Roebling's Brooklyn Bridge helped unify the boroughs
of New York City upon its completion in 1883.
need for an external boiler to produce steam made steam engines
"external combustion" engines.
In railway locomotives, high-pressure steam from the boiler went
to a piston in a cylinder on each side of the locomotive, turning
1876 the German inventor Nikolaus Otto developed an "internal
combustion" engine, in which the combustion of a gas and air
mixture inside the cylinder drove a piston and turned a wheel.
The power produced by this engine was much greater than that of a
steam engine of comparable weight.
In 1885 Karl Benz built a different kind of internal combustion
engine, using liquid gasoline as a fuel, to drive a three-wheeled
Gottlieb Daimler soon made a gasoline car with four wheels.
During the 1890s, gasoline cars faced competition from
battery-powered electric vehicles and from cars powered by small steam
engines. The greater range
and speed of gasoline cars after 1900 soon eclipsed electric ones,
though, and the complexity of steam cars made them difficult to
the wealthy could afford automobiles until 1908, when Henry Ford in the
United States introduced a rugged automobile, the Model T, that fell
dramatically in price as he developed an assembly-line process to
Other car makers in America adopted Ford's methods, and by the
end of the 1920s, a handful of large manufacturers dominated the U.S.
auto industry. In Europe,
automobiles remained luxury vehicles for much longer, but mass-produced
cars became common in Europe later in the twentieth century.
In 1799, the English experimenter Sir George Cayley proposed the
basic design of an airplane, with main wings crossing a lengthwise
aircraft body having a tail fin. Before
the twentieth century, though, steam engines were too heavy to lift a
piloted airplane in steady level flight. The gasoline engine made powered flight possible.
But the key to aviation was an understanding of how to design an
airplane that could be maneuvered in the air.
The American pioneers Wilbur and Orville Wright experimented with
gliders and homemade testing equipment.
After successfully flying a glider, the Wrights added a gasoline
engine and made the first powered flight at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina,
a decade, improved airplanes could fly more than 100 miles per hour.
But few airplanes carried paying passengers until the 1920s.
Airlines were too expensive for most travelers until the coming
of jet airplanes later in the twentieth century.
During the 1850s, a new source
of energy came onto the market. Deposits
of crude oil, or petroleum, underground had long been known to be
combustible and lamps burning a petroleum distillate, kerosene, proved
an acceptable source of indoor lighting.
The American refiner John D. Rockefeller built a near-monopoly,
Standard Oil, in the 1870s by making a safe kerosene for indoor use and
by buying out some of his competitors and forcing others out of
business. The brothers Robert and Immanuel Nobel, originally from
Sweden, held immense holdings in the Baku oil fields of Russia and
created a worldwide kerosene refining business in competition with
new chemical industries generated the largest private fortunes and gave
rise to new kinds of private philanthropy.
Alfred Nobel, a third Nobel brother and the inventor of dynamite,
founded the Nobel Prizes to reward individual achievement in the
sciences, literature, and public life.
John D. Rockfeller and Andrew Carnegie took a different approach
and established foundations to improve society as a whole through better
public health and higher education.
spread of electric power at the end of the nineteenth century threatened
the oil industry with the loss of its market for indoor lighting. The automobile rescued the oil industry and provided an even
larger market for a different distillate of crude oil, gasoline.
In 1912, the U.S. chemical engineers William Burton and Robert
Humphreys devised a process that increased the gasoline refined from a
barrel of crude oil from ten to twenty percent.
Later advances in refining doubled this amount and improved its
By 1850, only Great Britain
had become extensively industrialized – an achievement that went
together with becoming 50% urbanized.
At first, the British tried to prevent their new technology from
spreading. Until 1841,
British industrial craft workers and engineers were prohibited from
traveling overseas or exporting any industrial equipment.
However, such restrictions were impossible to maintain and
industrialization began to spread. Belgium was the first country on the continent to follow
Britain’s example of industrialization.
Germany and France followed, as did Russia later.
Each nation experienced industrial development in its own way.
French Revolution and Napoleonic Wars (1789-1815), and upheavals later
in the nineteenth century, delayed a stable form of government in France
until the establishment of a third republic in 1871.
The country did not industrialize as fully as Britain.
French Revolution distributed the land to those who farmed it, and
afterward the peasantry resisted changes that might have sharply reduced
the number of people in farming. France's
population growth also slowed in the nineteenth century, resulting in
less incentive for people to move to the cities.
By 1900 nearly half of the French people still worked in agriculture.
An iron and coal industry grew after 1820 and a railway network
followed, but in 1870 France lost a war with Germany and had to
surrender Alsace and part of Lorraine, two territories rich in iron ore.
A modern steel industry appeared in France but was small in
One reason that French industrialization lagged was that the
French had a stronger craft tradition.
France had a reputation for fine silks and furniture, and
traditional artisans were reluctant to risk losing that reputation by
using modern technology. France
developed new industries, such as the automobile and the airplane, but
its manufacturers favored small markets of wealthy buyers.
Much of the funds available in France for investment after the
1890s also went to develop Russia, a country that France needed as a
military counterweight to Germany.
its unification in 1871, Germany industrialized quickly, but its
economic advance strengthened a form of government that was only partly
democratic. The king of
Prussia, who became emperor, could appoint ministers and set policy.
An elected German parliament had only limited powers.
the 1850s and 1860s, modern coal and iron industries established
themselves in Germany, and after the country's unification a single
national market permitted them to grow much larger in scale.
The 1879 Gilchrist-Thomas process enabled steel to be produced
from the kind of iron ore that was plentiful in the country, and the
Ruhr valley in western Germany became a center for steel manufacturing.
The nation also became a world leader in chemicals by pioneering
the use of industrial research laboratories.
One of the fastest growing German industries was the electrical
industry. Werner von Siemens (Vehr-nuhr
built a telegraph company that expanded to include factories for the
production of telegraph and other electrical machines.
His brother, Charles William Siemens, settled in England and
pioneered the "open hearth" process of steel making.
Emil Rathenau (ay-mil
Rat-eh-now) believed that
massive industrial organization would relieve the social tensions that
rapid economic development had created.
The company he founded, AEG, was the nation's largest electrical
firm by 1890.
By 1914, the Siemens and Rathenau companies produced more
electrical equipment than any country in the world.
In Britain, agriculture and industry had to fend for themselves
under an economic policy of free trade that opened the country to
competition from foreign producers.
In contrast, the German government encouraged its agriculture and
industry to protect each other.
German industry accepted high tariffs on imported food so that
landowners and farmers did not have to compete with cheap foreign grain.
Landowners in turn supported high tariffs on foreign manufactured
goods to protect German industry in its home market.
Rapid population growth supplied enough workers for the country's
rapidly growing cities.
much of Western Europe rapidly modernized, Russia faced huge obstacles
to industrialization. The
country was vast, with its natural resources widely dispersed and its
transportation network limited.
Roads were few and navigable rivers froze in the winter and often
flooded in the spring.
Russia had merchants who could become entrepreneurs.
But despite having the largest population in Europem, Russia had
few free workers because most of the people were bound by serfdom to the
land that they farmed.
Tsar Nicholas I freed the serfs on state land in the 1840s, and
after Russia's defeat in the Crimean War of 1854-56, his successor
Alexander II emancipated the serfs owned by the nobility in 1861.
Rapid industrial development came in the 1890s under the
direction of Sergei Witte (veet-ay),
the minister of finance from 1891 until 1903. Witte encouraged foreign
investment and doubled the mileage of Russian railroads between 1895 and
He encouraged Russian industry by imposing high tariffs on
imported goods, and he reformed the banking system to make money more
available for industrial development.
His successor, Pyotr Stolypin, removed barriers to individual
landholding by farmers and promoted better farming methods.
Because Russia industrialized so late, it could take advantage of
the technological developments and skills that existed in western
Europe. Russia imported experienced engineers and laborers to supplement
its vast supply of unskilled labor.
In the years before 1914, the country built some of the most
advanced manufacturing plants in the world and a third of all Russian
factories employed more than 500 workers.
But many had very recently come from tightly knit villages, and
the sheer size of the factories contributed to a sense of alienation
that the squalor of Russia's newly industrializing cities engendered.
Much of the profit from Russia's new industries went to western
investors rather than to Russia's own people.
Rapid population growth offset many of the gains in urban
employment, and the Russian people as a whole remained poor.
More seriously, Russia's government remained autocratic and
unrest after the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-5 prompted only limited
Organizations for Business
Before the Industrial
Revolution, most businesses were either sole proprietorships (owned by
one person) or partnerships (owned by two or more people). While these
business owners were free to make economic decisions, they were also
personally responsible for all debts of the business.
New laws that allowed founders to incorporate a business with
limited liability protected the owners from personal ruin if a business
failed. This new kind of corporation
attracted outside investors who, in return for investing funds, received
shares of the business (called shares of stock), could elect directors,
and could receive profits (called dividends) according to the number of
shares they owned.
A large corporation could produce goods more cheaply than small
companies. When this happened, smaller businesses competing in the same
industry often had to sell themselves to the larger firms or close down. When a single company controlled nearly all of a market, it
enjoyed a monopoly.
Although no company achieved a full monopoly in any major
industry, many of the newer industries consolidated into a handful of
In Great Britain, the chemical and electrical industries came
under the control of large firms, as did shipping and mining overseas. In the United States, Andrew Carnegie sold his company in
1901 to the American financier J. P. Morgan, who merged it with other
steel firms to form the United States Steel Company with 60 percent of
the nation's steel-making capacity.
The Ford Motor Company in the 1910s accounted for about half of
U.S. auto production, and two firms, General Electric and Westinghouse,
dominated the U.S. electrical industry.
The German form of business combination, the cartel, was somewhat
different. The cartel was an
association of firms within the same industry. A cartel regulated prices
and output in an industry. Cartels
in one country also made agreements with cartels or companies in others. For example, German steel producers made agreements with
steel makers in Britain, France, Belgium, and the U.S., thereby
controlling the world's market for steel rails.
Business combination was not restricted to newer industry. Banks and other financial institutions began to consolidate
in the late 1800s. In
Britain the number of London banks grew smaller, although their business
grew as Britain became the world's leading lender and provider of
insurance services. In
Germany after 1871, only four banks controlled the nation's financial
business, and in America a single firm, the J. P. Morgan bank, was
explain the significance of the following:
explain the importance of the following:
Alsace and Lorraine
MAIN IDEA How did electricity change
industry and people's daily lives?
Was there a technological reason for large organizations?
How did geography and natural resources affect industrialization
in France, Germany, and Russia?
WRITING TO EXPLAIN
Imagine that you are Sergei Witte. Prepare a presentation to the
Tsar explaining how you would plan to build Russia as an industrial