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Content Overview

Unit 5: c. 1750-1900

Industrial Revolution

Start of Industrial Revolution

Summary: The Industrial Revolution was a transformation from the use of manual labor (doing things by hand) to factory labor, which started in Britain in the late 1700s

Causes of Industrialization

Access to Waterways

Britain had lots of canals & rivers → Used those for transport & waterwheels

Coal & Iron

Britain had lots of coal & iron ore → Used them in factories

Access to Capital

Britain had a strong central bank that could support & finance industrialization

Due to the 3 main causes above, Britain started industrialization in the 1780s, then it spread to mainland Europe, US, Japan, Russia, and Egypt

First Industrial Revolution (1760-1830)

Steam Engine

Textile-Producing Innovations 

Steamship & Steam locomotive

The 1st Industrial Revolution specialized in textile manufacturing and the steam engine

Second Industrial Revolution (1870-1914)



Internal Combustion Engine




The 2nd Industrial Revolution specialized in more heavy industry like steel, electricity, and gasoline-powered automobiles

Spread of Industrial Revolution

Summary: After starting in Britain, industrialization spread to mainland Europe, Russia, US, Japan, and Egypt

Industrialization of Mainland Europe

Industrialization spread to Belgium, Germany, and France. Other kingdoms were mostly too poor to fully convert to an industrial economy at this time. 

Meiji Restoration in Japan (1868)

Japan was traditionally very isolationist from Europe. In 1868, Japan realized it was far behind the Western World in technology, so it quickly converted itself to a modern industrial economy in the Meiji Restoration (1868). Japan then became an imperial power (described in Unit 6)

Industrialization of the US

Samuel Slater, a British immigrant, built the 1st industrial factory (a cotton mill) in 1790 in Rhode Island. Northeast US (centered around Boston) had a prosperous textile industry. The US then industrialized again in the late 1870s with steel & oil industries (known as the Gilded Age)

Industrialization of Russia

Sergei Witte helped Russia industrialize under Tsars Alexander III & Nicholas II. Russia specialized in heavy industry (iron & steel). Their main project was the Trans-Siberian Railroad, a railroad across the entirety of Russia

Industrialization of Egypt

Muhammad Ali, the leader of Egypt, industrialized Egypt's  textile economy in the early 1800s. However, he got many foreign loans to do this (mostly from Britain), and he couldn't pay them all back, which is why Britain easily colonized Egypt later on (discussed in Unit 6). 

Effects of Industrial Revolution

Summary: Industrialization led to rapid urbanization & created poor working conditions in the factories, such as long work hours, little pay, and strict supervision. Here are the effects of those developments:

Workers Organizing

Industrial workers hated their working conditions & often organized into labor unions to campaign for reform

Reform Movements

In response to labor unions, many govs instituted workplace reforms such as limiting work hours for women & children, better working conditions, etc.

Working Class

A new social class (the working class) comprised of all industrial workers

Mandatory Education

Young children were forced to work in coal mines → govs implemented mandatory education laws for children

Nuclear Family

In one house, usually only the parents & children lived (no grandparents, aunts, etc.) → Stronger family bond

Urban Problems

Rapid urbanization → Sanitary problems in cities → Disease spread easily


Many workers hated their low social status → Embraced new Marxist ideals of communism

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