Tag Archives: industrialization

Germany’s Iron, Steel, and Electrical Industries

Prussia was rich in coalfields and iron deposits. From the Krupp family, Alfred Krupp established an steel factory in 1810. It only had about 140 workers until 1870. Krupp invested heavily in steel industry and transformed his factory in a giant company which employed thousands of workers. The Krupp family made a fortune by producing railway locomotive and military weapons.

urlAlfred Krupp
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Ernst Werner von Siemens

In 1866 Werner Siemens started the beginning of the new electrical industry in Germany. This lead to Germany having one of the best economies in the world. There were four brothers in the Siemens family all of whom contributed to the the European Industrial Revolution.

http://www.saburchill.com/history/chapters/IR/049f.html – Bottom half

Pre-Industrialization Problems: The Malthusian Trap

Thomas Robert Malthus (1766-1834)

The Malthusian Trap ensures that gains in income per person through technological advances are inevitably lost through subsequent population growth.

A more detailed explanation can be found here. The Industrial Revolution lead to exponential production potential; thus, society successfully escaped the Malthusian Trap. For even more explanation regarding the Industrial Revolution’s impact on population sustenance, read this 16-page economic history of the world.

Recommended audience: High school and up

Derived From Demand: Origins of the Industrial Revolution

This article examines proto-industrialization, a precursor to the Industrial Revolution, in which goods were produced by hand in order to meet an increasing demand. Raw materials were distributed to peasants through the putting-out system. Merchants would buy back the products at a fraction of the retail rate.

For the peasants, but particularly for the merchants, this putting-out system had several advantages:

1. The peasants could supplement their agricultural income and take advantage of the winter months when farming was impossible.
2. Merchants could avoid the higher wages and often demanding regulations of urban labor; when the need arose, it was easier to reduce the number of workers.
3. Merchants could acquire capital, which would later play a part in funding industrialization itself, and peasants acquired skills for the future.
4. Young people could establish separate households earlier, thus facilitating population growth.
5. Capitalists had greater flexibility, especially when demand for their goods flagged.

As demand rose, output did not. The limit of manmade production had been reached and new solutions were necessary in order to accommodate a growing society. The article explains factors leading to and impacting the Industrial Revolution and outlines key elements definitive of such a revolution.

The Industrial Revolution was certainly not caused only by changes in trade. If trade alone had been responsible, the Netherlands (a trading powerhouse in the 17th and 18th centuries) would have been a leading contender for the location of the Industrial Revolution. As it was, Holland clearly lost ground to the pioneer industrializing nation, England . . . The Industrial Revolution, then, was not a revolution in trade or income, but in production.

Read full article here.

Length: 4 pages (estimated)

Recommended audience: Middle school and up

Wallonia, Belgium

Wallonia is the southern region in Belgium

•The first successful region in Belgium to follow Britain’s steps for industrialization

•Mainly a French speaking region

•Is land-locked

•The Capital of Wallonia  is Namur

•About 2/3 of the population lives near Sambre and Meuse Valley

•Wallonia is divided into 5 provinces (Walloon Brabant, Hainaut, Liège, Luxembourg, and Namur)

•Prospered durning the industrial revolution

•Many people in the Flemish region ( the northern region in Belgium) immigrated to Wallonia

• Demonym of Wallonia is Walloon

Flag of Wallonia

The Netherlands: Slow to Adopt New Technologies

This excerpt is taken from Joel Mokyr’s article (see previous post). The Netherlands’ failure to keep up with technological advances is closely related to its apparently lack of industrialization during the same period in which Britain flourished.

Not only that the Netherlands was not the first country to follow Britain, but its Industrial Revolution came late, not until the last third of the nineteenth century by which time Belgium, Switzerland, and important parts of France and Germany had passed it by. Its slowness to adopt and emulate the new technologies we associate with the Industrial Revolution has been the subject of a substantial literature. Technical innovation in the Netherlands, once part of the glory of the Golden Age, never completely came to a halt, but it slowed down in the later eighteenth century exactly at the time that it accelerated in Britain. By 1825 or so, the Netherlands had been transformed from a paradise of technological ingenuity to a museum.

Read the full essay here.

Length: 21 pages

Recommended audience: High school and up

Why Britain? (and not the Netherlands or anyone else)

The following is an excerpt from an essay by Joel Mokyr, an Economics and History professor at Northwestern University.

What is amazing, in retrospect, is not that the Netherlands failed to undergo this transition but that Britain did. The Netherlands was not the exception, Britain was. In Britain the key to success was precisely in the ease by which manufacturers linked up with people who studied nature (as the term “scientists” seems anachronistic and too confining) and to make the new ideas actually work on the shopfloor. British engineers and technicians engaged in a successful conversation with British businessmen and persuaded them that money could be made from the new technology. Once that became obvious, new generations of inventors saw an incentive to make further improvements. In this fashion, Britain was able to break the tyranny of negative feedback and launch itself into something entirely new, and it did so by exploiting its unique position and social parameters. Europe would never be the same. Britain blazed the trail, others followed – some on trails that were very close such as Belgium, others on trails that were rather different such as the Switzerland, France, and eventually the Netherlands.

Read the full essay here.