2-6: Spread of the Industrial Revolution

Spread of the Industrial Revolution

Part 1 of 2: Read the information below regarding the spread of industrialization from Britain to the US, Europe and Beyond.


The Industrial Revolution began in Britain in the early 1700’s and quickly gained momentum. The first areas of industrialization were primarily in mining and textiles. Powerful engines, like the Newcomben Engine  and later James Watt’s Steam Engine would pump water out of coal mines allowing for increased coal production. Meanwhile John Kay and James Hargreaves revolutionized the textile industry with the Flying Shuttle and Spinning Jenny. Factories that employed these new technologies were initially guarded as a state secret, allowing England to be the workshop of the world for all things manufactured. However Britain’s industrial secrets soon made there way off the island.

United States

At the time of the Revolutionary War, the American colonies were importing factory-made goods and luxury products from Great Britain. In 1790 Samuel Slater built the first practical cotton spinning machines in the United States, and in 1793 Eli Whitney patented the cotton gin. New England soon had a flourishing cotton textile industry.

The manufacture of iron developed more slowly because of the lack of soft coal. A process for using anthracite coal, which was plentiful, was introduced about 1830. Later both iron ore and soft coal were found in western Pennsylvania. The great expanse of American farmland encouraged the mechanization of agriculture. Invention of a successful reaper by Cyrus McCormick in 1834 was followed by the development of other types of farm machinery.

As the nation expanded, the almost unlimited supply of raw materials and the constantly increasing number of customers brought a rapid growth of industry. The steamboat, which came into general use about 1817, provided transportation on inland waterways. A railway system was built up after the introduction of steam locomotives in the 1830’s.

The principles of mass production, based on the use of interchangeable parts, were developed by Eli Whitney in the early 19th century. These were widely adopted at the time of the Civil War, when the need for supplies brought a great increase in manufacturing. Another development during the Civil War was use of the sewing machine, perfected during the 1840’s and 1850’s, to mass-produce readymade uniforms. Postwar growth and a vast supply of immigrant factory workers made the United States a leading industrial nation.

During the early part of the Industrial Revolution workers had no means of protecting themselves from long hours, low wages, and loss of jobs. Beginning in 1813, some states passed laws regulating child labor. After the Civil War a national organization of industrial workers, the Knights of Labor, rose briefly to prominence, but declined without accomplishing any political or economic reforms.


By the start of the French Revolution in 1789, France had begun to adopt some of the new English manufacturing methods. The political confusion of the next several decades, however, held back industrial development. Hand labor continued to be dominant until the middle of the 19th century, when a revival of commerce brought a gradual changeover to mechanical production. After formation of the Third Republic, 1870–71, France entered its modern industrial era.


Mechanization of German industry was delayed by the disunity of the German states. Until the middle of the 19th century progress was retarded by internal tariff barriers, inadequate transportation, and lack of colonial markets and money for investments. Only in Prussia was there a move toward establishment of heavy industry. After unification under the Prussians in 1871, Germany launched a program of industrial and commercial expansion that made it a world leader by the early 20th century.

Other Countries

The first Asian nation to become industrialized was Japan. After restoration of imperial power in 1868, Emperor Mutsuhito sent Japanese scholars to study Western industry. Quickly and methodically Japan became a highly efficient industrial nation.

China and India largely retained their ancient primitive systems of agriculture and handicraft until after World War II. The governments of these countries then began the slow process of teaching the peasants modern agricultural and industrial methods.

Russia under the czars was also a peasant society. After the Russian Revolution in 1917, the Communist leaders moved first to gain control of agriculture and production. In 1928 the First Five Year Plan went into effect. Its aim was to transform the nation from an agricultural to an industrial one. Under a continuing series of five-year plans, the Soviet Union became second only to the United States as an industrial power.

Industrialization in Latin America came largely in the 20th century, due in many cases to foreign investments. Unstable governments and lack of effective social legislation, however, hindered progress in many countries.

 “Industrial Revolution”  27 February 2008.  HowStuffWorks.com. <http://history.howstuffworks.com/european-history/industrial-revolution.htm>  11 August 2014.


 Part 2 of 2: Go to prezi and create a visual showing the spread of the Industrial Revolution. You will have to create an account by logging in or log in via facebook. Once you are logged in create a “New Prezi” that will show how the Industrial Revolution spread from Britain to the rest of the world.  Please experiment and get comfortable with the presentation format you can even use a “world map” template as a background for your visual. Use the information from your notes, this reading and other sources to  help you create the prezi. If you have any questions please stop by before or after school and I will help you set up an account/get started!

When complete download the prezi as a .pdf file and print or email it to me at jwiggin@braintreema.gov Title the email “Unit 2 Assignment 6: Your Name”


  • Britain (3), the United States (5), Germany (3), France (3), Japan (2), Russia (2), India (2) and China (2) must all be included on your graphic with the minimum number of facts relating to how the Industrial Revolution began or got to the country. The required number of these facts is listed after the country name. 
  • You must include dates or another indicator of the order in which countries industrialized
  • Each fact or nation must be accompanied by an appropriate picture