The late 18th century was a period of revolutions, which is why for many it was a time of change and uncertainty. The American colonists had achieved their independence from Britain and the French had overthrown their monarchy and the nobility during this time period. In Britain however, something other than a political revolution was occurring in the late 18th century. Great Britain's economy was undergoing drastic changes by transforming from a small-scale workshop and cottage economy to one that would be founded on large-scale, factory based industries. Britain underwent this Industrial Revolution through the 19th century until it fully transformed the country economically and socially by 1850. Britain was transformed from a rural nation into a primarily urban based one that would make it the first industrial nation in the world, along with the wealthiest.
[...] There were however some Parliamentarians such as Joseph Hume, who understood the plight of the working class and succeeded in repealing these Laws in 1824 in order to create a national trade union organization. Robert Owen was referred to as a prophet by many citizens of the working class as he was an enthusiastic supporter of the creation of the Grand National Consolidated Trade Union (GNCTU) in 1834. The national union was seen as a requirement among most people as conditions in factories were poor where workers faced constant injury, minimum 12 hour shifts, and child labor as young as 8 years old was an accepted practice among factory owners where they only paid children one-fifth the adult male wage. By 1833 there were over children on the meager factory wages, which resulted in a parliamentary commission where a witness reported the conditions that children faced to British Parliament: girl at Stockport, carried by her clothing round an upright shaft; her thighs were broken, her ankles dislocated. [...]
[...] Poverty ran rampant throughout British society during this time as no laws prevented parents from sending children as young as 5 from working in factories with them as wages were quite meager without the regulation of any minimum wage laws. As economic growth continued in Britain, so too did the social divide among the wealthy and the poor as percent of the population existed on less than 14 percent of the country's income.” The British government's “laissez-faire” policy halted any form of organized working class movement for better rights that would be seen as interfering with the operation of industry. In order to understand how poverty and poor living conditions during England's Industrial Revolution led to social and political change, it is important to fully recognize what living conditions were like prior to industrialization and what factors facilitated urbanization. [...]
[...] The Industrial Reolution: The Birth of the Modern Age. London U.K: Weidenfeld and Nicolson Levine, Philippa. The British Empire: Sunrise to Sunset. London U.K.: Pearson Education Limited (Ch. 1-5 pages 1-102). Mantoux, Paul. The Industrial Revolution in the Eighteenth Century. Oxford: Jonathan Cape LTD Mathias, Peter. The Transformation of England. New York: Columbia University Press Mayhew, Henry. London Labour and the London Poor; a Cyclopaedia of the Condition and Earnings of Those that Will Work, Those That Cannot Work, and Those That Will Not Work. [...]
[...] The housing that was within the financial reaches of the working classes was densely packed, made of inferior materials, and lacked basic sanitary facilities a way of economizing on the outlay of capital on which only minimal return could reasonably be expected.” Poverty among this new class was rampant and their living conditions were highly condensed, resulting in significantly high disease rates. As cities like London became hubs of poverty in the 1840s as a result of not only changing economic and social structures through industrialization but also an economic recession, ambiguity began to arise on the topic of England's policies dealing with the poor. [...]
[...] On the City: Physical Pattern and Social Structure. Selected Writings. London: University of Chicago Press Botham F.W. & Hunt E.H. “Wages in Britain during the Industrial Revolution”. The Economic History Review, New Series, Vol No (Aug., 1987), pp. 380-399. (Accessed September 29, 2008). Crafts, N.F.R. British Economic Growth During the Industrial Revolution. New York: Oxford University Press Fleischman, Richard and Parker Lee. Entrepreneurs and Pre-Industrial Revolution Evidence of Cost Management.” The Accounting Review, Vol No (Apr., 1991), pp. 361-375. Gertrude, Himmerfarb. [...]
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