The objective of this project is to define revolution in a political/social context and to explain in two sections the processes of the Industrial and Agricultural revolutions in England. I have take the opportunity to study the effects of the Industrial revolution in Northampton.
This project is written in five main sections. The first will define “revolution”.
The second section will discuss the Agricultural revolution, providing statistics, and discussing the cause and effect of the Agricultural revolution in England. It will also explain what happened in the Agricultural revolution and what changed, explaining how farming methods changed.
The third section will discuss the Industrial revolution and its cause and effects. It will show the effects of factory working on the social structure of English life.
The fourth section provides an example of the industrial age in Northampton a town that had made shoes for hundreds of years and how the Industrial revolution effected its shoe making techniques.
My conclusion, summarises the project and argues if revolution is a good thing and if the effect it had on England changed it for the better or the worse. It will also show the where all the information has come from, (references).
2. What is Revolution?
There have been revolutions throughout the history of civilisation and England has not been the only country to experience revolution though they take different forms. From America to Russia there have been revolutions, changing the world we live in today. Some have been violent and claimed many lives and others have just been changes in the way we live and how our community functions.
A revolution can be, violent although a revolution is a change of some kind and does not have to be violent. A revolution could be a change in the social structure of a community, a change in political power and government structure, or a religious change. A revolution could also be an advance in industry or agriculture as featured in this project.
A revolution can be a sign of discontent or civil disobedience although if a peaceful revolution is taking place, people who do not like what is happening sometimes become violent and cause trouble. The revolt or change must be successful to be a revolution, after a revolution everybody lives in an idealistic dream, but it does not work because the winning party (s) split and the goals fade and a totalitarian regime can take control.
After this happens the entire social structure is changed and the community can often end up worse than it was before the revolution began.
Plato defined a revolution as;
Any attempt by subordinate groups through the use of violence to bring about; 1) A change of government or its policy. 2) A changed of regime 3) A change of society, whether this attempt is justified by reference to past conditions or to an as yet unattained future ideal.
The term REVOLUTION is normally used to describe a rapid change, but this is not always so, as we will discover in this report. For example the Industrial Revolution happened over a number of years, and some could argue it took up to a century to finish but according to Plato’s definition this is not a revolution, but could be described as evolution.
My final definition is;
A revolution is a typically violent rapid change, in regime, a government or its policy, technology, science or in society.
3. The Agricultural Revolution
3.1 Why did it happen?
Unlike many revolutions the Agricultural Revolution worked as an incremental change, one thing happened, which then led to the next and the next. It began in the 1700’s with the first enclosure laws and scientists experimenting with new farming methods. Then better breeding techniques were developed, creating bigger and better livestock realising lasting economic benefits.
Better farming methods came into action like crop rotation, and then machines, first horse drawn and then with the help of the Industrial Revolution, steam powered. Because of the Industrial Revolution people started moving from the country to the towns and here there was better personal hygiene and new medicines were discovered, bringing around a population increase. Because of fertilisers and better techniques prices dropped and food became easier to obtain, economic growth had begun. For 100’s of years economic development had stood still, the modern growth era had begun.
Before the 1700’s there were few changes in farming but after 1700 people started to make changes to farming, with new scientific investigations, better plants were grown and animals bred. These main factors brought about the Agricultural Revolution and brought about a significant increase in wealth.
Before the revolution there was one main farming technique and that was strip farming.
This kind of farming was when the land was divided into strips and each peasant had a strip of land to farm. This was not productive so land was fenced off, in 1495-1603 the first enclosure law was passed for sheep. A new law passed between 1750-1831 declared that land was to be farmed in large fields and fenced off. After the strips had been fenced off, crop rotation was used, this is when the crops on fields are changed each year, this provided food for cattle as well as stopping the need for a fallow year (when the land was left unused for a year to regain its nutrients). This was because certain crops planted put important elements back into the soil.
Crop rotation worked in this way; wheat, root crop, barley, clover. The wheat was used for making bread and feeding people, the root crop was mainly turnips, which would mainly been used for cattle feed, then barley which would have been used for cattle feed as well as for humans, and then clover was planted, the main crop for replacing vital elements in the soil. During the agricultural revolution three million hectares of land was enclosed and farmed with crop rotation.
The Agricultural Revolution experienced a number of new inventions and animal breeds. In 1799 Joseph Boyce invented the reaper and in 1701 Jethro Tull invented the horse drawn drill. This invention changed farming for the better, instead of ploughing the land and then just scattering the seeds it ploughed the seeds into the land and covered them. By 1790 the first threshing machines were developed first powered by horse and then by steam. New fertilisers were used like guano, lime gypsum, sandy clay and marl. In 1793 the agricultural society was established and in 1741-1820 Arthur Young informed Europe and America of England’s new discoveries. In 1710 the average weight of cattle was 144Kg but by 1795 it had nearly trebled to 360Kg. Wealthy landowners like Thomas Coke, Earl of Leicester, encouraged experimental breeding of sheep and cattle, to produce new, improved, more profitable strains. Every year Coke held a grand assembly at Holkham Hall, his country house. Guests came from all over Europe to discuss new farming ideas.
This following quote outlines the main changes of English farming;
… to give a review of the husbandry which makes this country so famous. Great improvements have been made by means of the following: First: by enclosing without the assistance of Parliament. Second: by the use of marl (powered rock and lime) the clay. Third: rotation of crops: i) turnips; ii) barley; iii) clover; iv) wheat. Fourth: by the culture of turnips well hand-hoed. Fifth: by the culture of clover and ray-grass. Sixth: by the landlords granting long leases. Seventh: by the country being divided into large farms.
From The Farmer’s Tour, Arthur Young, 1771
This source shows the use of machinery on the farms;
Machinery was just coming into use on the land. Every autumn appeared as the farmer owned was horse-drawn and was only in partial use. In some fields a horse-drawn drill would sow the seed in rows, in other a human sower would walk up and down with a basket and fling the seed with both hands broadcast. In harvest time, the mechanical reaper was a familiar sight, but it only did a small part of the work.
Flora Thompson Lark Rise to Candletord
In the 1700’s there was only a small population in England mainly in the south west and east Anglia but by 1901 the population was spread over the entire country, including Scotland and Wales with most areas with over 520 people per square mile. Between 1801 and 1851 the urban population had doubled and by 1901 it had almost doubled again because of the increasing birth-rate and migration from the country to the towns. The population also increased because between 1870 and 1914 the male and female death rates rapidly dropped. Families became smaller and from 1900 child death rates dropped too.
Because of the population increase and dropping prices in farming food prices dropped and farmers became more wealthy and prosperous. There was less competition from abroad and because of a higher population more food was needed. Colonies made plantations in Africa, Asia, Pacific and the Caribbean and soon the first cash crops were made like coffee, tea, bananas and rubber.
3.2 Who lost out?
There were few people who lost out in the Agricultural revolution but when the fields were changed from strips to fields the peasants lost their land and often their jobs. They often revolted in small numbers but there was never a full scale battle between the authorities and the peasants. The peasant farmers also lost out when the machines like the tractor were invented and there was less need for human labour and so many peasants were made redundant.
3.3 Who Gained?
Many of the rich land lords were the main people to gain. They had large areas of land which before were unproductive and did not make them very much money, but when the new farming methods and fertilisers were introduced the land became more productive and the profits rose which made them happy and they could then afford to experiment in breeding bigger, better animals as well as developing new farming techniques.
4. The Industrial Revolution
4.1 Why did it happen?
During the industrial revolution there was a huge increase of population which was mainly based in the cities and towns. The Urban population changed from housing a minority of the population in 1801 to housing the majority by 1881 (see charts below).
In the early 1700s, most people worked at home, making the slow old traditional way, usually by hand. Men were carpenters, blacksmiths, and weavers, Others were farm labourers, who worked on the land to grow crops to feed their families. Women worked in the home, looked after the animals, cleaned sheep fleeces, and spun wool into yarn for clothes.
By the middle of the 19th century, all this had changed, Many British people now lived in towns, and worked in large factories, or in shops, offices, railways and other businesses designed to serve the resident workers of the industrial centres.
British inventors continued to develop new machines, which performed the traditional tasks of spinning and weaving much faster than by hand. Machines were also used to make iron and steel. These metals were in turn used to make more machines and also to make weapons and tools.
Factories housing the new machines made Britain “the workshop of the world” (a common phrase used by foreign traders). Four main factors helped to bring this change: coal mining, a canal system, money and cheap labour. Coal was used to smelt iron and steel, and to make steam power to power the new
machines. Barges carried bulky raw materials and finished goods along the canals. The profits from Britain’s colonies overseas and years of peace at home meant there were merchants who had money to invest in industry. Poor farm workers, tired of starvation flocked to the towns to find work although they were sometimes worse off than before (see 4.2).
Many would still argue that we are still going through an industrial revolution, i.e. it is a progressive continuous change (evolution), that of the computer and space exploration.
This extract is called: The marvel of a cotton-spinning factory, 1835
We see a building with a 100 horse power steam engine with the strength of 880 men, working 50, 000 spindles and all the auxiliary machines. It needs only 750 workers to produce as much yarn as would have been spun by 200,000 men: one man now produces as much as 260 did in the old days.
History of Cotton, Edward Baines, 1835
The Revolution changed many things like;
Textiles – The first multi-reel spinning machines, the Spinning Jenny, was made by James Hargreaves in 1764. At first, it was powered by hand but soon the steam version was built.
Mines – The First steam engine built by Thomas Newcomen in 1712 was used to pump water out of the water logged mines.
Steel – The Ironworks at Coalbrookdale in England produced more iron than anywhere else in Europe.
Others were transport, electricity, light bulb and many other new inventions.
4.2 Who lost out?
It was the people that moved from the country to the city to find work, who had to live in small, grotty houses with disease and no proper sanitation but the children who moved with their parents suffered too. From the age of six they were in the cotton factories pulling wool etc. out of machines with no safety systems, but worst of all young children had to go down mines where they would be beaten and worked until they were close to dying. Although the adults did suffer, I believe they were the people who gained in the revolution as I will explain in the next section.
My proof children lost our in the revolution:
Children aged six or seven go down the pit at four in the morning and stay there for 11 or 23 hours a day. Their work is to open and shut the doors of the galleries when the trucks pass: for this the child sits by itself in a dark gallery for all those hours.
The peasants moved from a healthy country farming practice, to labourers in unhealthy cities and put in small houses where there was barely one room per person.
4.3 Who gained?
I believe it was the rich entrepreneurs who gained because they had capital they could invest in large factories and they could use that investment to explore new ideas and make more money. 5. Effects of Revolution in Northampton
The industrial revolution brought with it new machines and new methods of shoe making . It brought people to the towns and it made city life much more popular. Work was available even though there where machines to help with the work as people were still needed to operate them as the computer had not been invented yet. Factories started to thrive and every day of the week except Sundays the factories were jam packed with people. The machines made work a great deal easier, as the work was so easy the people at the factories could double their out puts so making Northampton a growing city with people moving in to the town for the work and people visiting to buy their shoes.
One of the first machines to change shoe making was the sewing machine changed to sewing leather so the needle and thread was not needed. They now had machines to place the insoles and soles and heels onto the shoe so the hammer and nail were made redundant as these machines took over. These machines were wonderful as it made the work a lot easier for the workers. The cutting of the leather didn’t change as it was still done with a knife, this is the skilled job of the “Tacker”.
The Industrial Revolution helped to bring a new wealth to Northampton. Owners of factories and the merchants amassed personal wealth from the shoe industry they built large houses in fashionable parts of the town like the race course and Abington Park. They built attractive factories and modern terraced houses for the shoe workers that still exist today even though most of the factories have long since closed. The houses for the workers formed new suburbs around the factories, which included schools, churches, and shopping streets. These areas formed the boundaries of the town until very recently and provided almost all the manufacturing jobs.
Were the Industrial and Agricultural Revolutions really revolutions, or where they the beginning of a evolutionary process. We are still going through the Agricultural and Industrial Revolutions, new farming methods are still being developed and new technologies are still being produced. I would argue that the Industrial and Agricultural Revolutions were the beginning of an evolutionary process and not a revolution which according to many definitions is a rapid change, probably taking up to about three years.
Was revolution a good thing for England? The Industrial and Agricultural revolutions were good things for the country as they gave England a new strength and knowledge that nobody else had. They helped the country expand and become more powerful, as well as strengthening our economy. The Agricultural Revolution reduced the risk of famine as the country was not well structured and food was now accessible to all.
But who did these revolutions help? Well it definitely wasn’t the peasants as they had to live in small cramped conditions with little privacy. They moved from farmers to industrial labourers and for that they had to pay the price of pollution, poor sanitation, long work hours, terrible working conditions.
The only people that really benefited were the people with capital who invested their capital into the new factories. The Industrial Revolution helped make them money and that was all they wanted.
So the Industrial and Agricultural Revolutions were good for the country and the men with capital, but they were not good for the peasant farmers who moved from the country.