Industrial Revolution Changed the World Term Paper

Pages: 8 (2713 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: ≈ 17  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Drama - World

The economic development triggered by the industrial revolution, thus, made the European nations and the United States, the most powerful in the world in the 18th and 19th centuries.

The Industrial Revolution in some European countries and the U.S. And the surplus goods produced by them as a result created the need for global markets. The accompanying military power of the industrialized countries enabled them to dictate terms on a global level and the European imperial expansion in the 1800s was one of the consequences of the Industrial Revolution. (Stearns 56) The effect of the Industrial Revolution is amply illustrated in the following example. Until the late eighteenth century, India was one of the largest exporters of cotton textiles and was famous for the fine quality of its muslin cloth. In the early 19th century, British cotton exports began to move into India on a substantial scale to Asia expanded in volume from £1.7 million in 1811 to £4.4 million in 1821 and India started to transform from being the industrial workshop of the world to one of its richest raw material-producing regions. In other words, it entered a period of de-industrialization. (Rostow 214)Buy full Download Microsoft Word File paper
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Term Paper on Industrial Revolution Changed the World Assignment

Such arm-twisting by the colonial powers is also evident in its dealings with China in the 18th and 19th centuries. When trade between China and Britain started in the 18th century, the balance of trade was initially in China's favor. This, obviously, did not suit the British colonial power, and in order to reverse the balance it introduced opium among the Chinese population. Within a few years, as a result of opium addiction among the Chinese, the balance of trade was reversed in favor of the British. When the Chinese government reacted to a serious addiction problem by closing down opium stores in coastal cities run by the British, they had to face a massive British naval force and a treaty was negotiated at gunpoint in 1842 that forced the Chinese to cede the island of Hong Kong and forced them to open 5 major seaports for foreign trade and residence. ("China"-History, Encarta). The overwhelming effect of the Industrial Revolution on the world economy, therefore, was a large increase in world trade with a major share of the profits going to the industrialized countries. The role of the non-industrialized countries was largely reduced to providing raw material for the industries of the industrialized nations.

Africa & Reasons for its Underdevelopment

Almost the entire African continent was colonized by the European powers from the 15th century onwards and most African countries did not win their independence until the 1960s. Apologists for the European colonists have contented that the colonization was the "white man's burden" or a mission to civilize the backward, pagan and "dark" Africa. The opposing view is that the over-riding purpose of colonization of Africa was to help finance the industrial revolution in Europe and to nakedly exploit its resources for the sake of profits. Although both views show only part of the full picture, the present underdevelopment and the shameful history of slavery are compelling indictments of the European colonization of Africa.

Walter Rodney, writer and political activist, has given the third world / Marxist view of the African colonization in his book, "How Europe Underdeveloped Africa"(1981). Rodney states in the book that Africa and Europe were at similar states of development, 400 years ago with Ethiopia, Zimbabwe and Benin being well-established civilizations at that time. Then followed the damage caused by slave trade, and savage exploitation of the colonial period and the gap between the states of development in Africa and Europe became as wide as it is today. The extent of the loss to the African labor by the slave trade can be judged by the estimate that as many as one hundred million Africans may have been enslaved by the end of the 19th century. The effect was compounded because most of the slaves consisted of able-bodied men and young women. (Rodney 95-146). Rodney quotes many incidences when the Colonialists deliberately blocked the industrialization of Africa in his book. For example, groundnut-oil mills set up in Senegal in 1927 for export to France were soon placed under restrictions because of protests of oil-millers in France. Similarly the oil mills set up in Nigeria were discouraged and the oil was sent to Europe as a raw material for its industries. (Ibid. 215). Reasons for the present underdevelopment and appalling poverty of Africa can thus be traced to the European colonization -- a direct result of the Industrial Revolution.


The Industrial Revolution that started in Britain in the 18th century and later spread to different parts of world was one of the most important transformations in human civilization. It changed the lives of the people wherever it occurred and had a significant effect on the world economy. At the same time, it gave rise to increased inequality between the industrialized and non-industrialized nations and triggered a European imperial expansion in the 1800s especially in Africa. The industrialized nations increased their military power and looked towards the colonized countries as markets for their surplus goods and as sources for the raw material required for their industries. As a result, the benefits of the Industrial Revolution were not shared equally among the world population.

Works Cited

Ashton, T.S. The Industrial Revolution, 1760-1830. Oxford University Press: Oxford,1997

China" Article in Encyclopedia Encarta, 2003

Industrial Revolution." MSN Encarta Online. 2004. June 4, 2004.

Rodney, Walter. How Europe Underdeveloped Africa. Washington D.C.: Howard University Press, 1981

Rostow, W.W. How It All Began: Origins of the Modern Economy. McGraw-Hill. New York, 1975

Stearns, Peter N. "The Industrial Revolution in World History" Boulder, Colo.: Westview, 1993.

Toynbee, Arnold J. The Industrial Revolution. Beacon Press: Boston, 1956.

Also known as the 'Neolithic Revolution' that occurred 10~12,000 years ago when people moved from social systems based on hunting and gathering to more complex communities dependent on agriculture and the domestication of animals.

The Western European countries were France, Germany and Belgium. Much later, in the early part of the twentieth century the 'Industrial Revolution' also spread beyond Europe and North America to Japan and Russia.

Coal became the main source of power and iron and steel industry led the advancement of large industries

Watt registered his patent for the steam-engine in 1769. Before the invention of the steam engine, hydropower was the major source of power for big industries but it necessitated the location of the industry near a water source: steam engine had no such constraint

Substitution of the cheaper coal and coke for the traditional charcoal used for smelting and refining was a key development in the iron and steel industry

The amount of iron manufactured nearly doubled in the eight years following 1788. (Toynbee 64)

The mass production methods were particularly suited to enhancing military production

Even today, the vast inequality exists between the industrialized and the agricultural societies an addictive drug from which heroin is derived these days

Egypt, for example, tried to industrialize under a reform-minded leader in the early 19th century but its efforts were blocked by the colonial… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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