Adrienne GordonMr. SotakHonors English 9 12 December 2017How the Industrial Revolution Changed the WorldCharles Dickens once wrote a contradiction that is famously known by many people. In his book, A Tale of Two Cities, he writes, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…” (Dickens 1). Although he wrote the quote about the French Revolution, the quote also pertains to the Industrial Revolution.
The Industrial Revolution was a time when production and transportation began to prosper. Starting in England, it soon began all over the world. Due to the immense changes, there were many new good aspects and bad aspects. The “best of times” was the booming automobile production rate, as a result of the assembly line, along with cheaper products due to mass production . Another example of the “best of times” was faster, cheaper transportation and cheaper goods due to steam engines and railroads. However, the Industrial Revolution was not only good times. The “worst of times” included working children for extremely long hours in dangerous, nasty places. Adults also worked in inadequate places for little pay.
Although there are bad aspects of the Industrial Revolution, it helped make society as strong as it is today. Without it, society would not be the same. During the Industrial Revolution, the assembly line and other innovative technology aided in improving the manufacturing of automobiles by making cheaper products, decreasing production time, increasing production. When Ford began making affordable cars, the initial price was $850. Olds, an automobile company, cost $950 at the time (DiBacco 124). However, that was before the assembly line; which tremendously changed the amount of time to produce a Model T.
Before the assembly line, producing one Model T took twelve and half hours. After the assembly line, it took six hours to produce one (“Moving Assembly Line at Ford.”). Only after two years, it took one hour and twenty-eight minutes to produce a car (DiBacco 125). Eventually, it only took 24 seconds to produce a Model T (“Moving Assembly at Ford”). As it became faster to produce Model T’s, the number of Model T’s being produced skyrocketed. In 1914, 189,000 Model T’s were produced, and by 1921, one million Model T’s had been made (Watts 135). The mass production of the automobile steadily leveled out the price.
Fore example, in 1908, they cost $450 and by 1920 the cost was only $250. Soon, millions of Americans could afford to buy the automobile, and they did. From 1913 to 1929, more than 5 million cars were sold (Olson 12). By innovating assembly line techniques, cars were faster to produce and, in result, affordable to the average American. This made cars cheaper and more in demand. Thus, making the Industrial Revolution one of the best of times.
Along with faster production, better travel options were another reason why the Industrial Revolution was the best times. Due to railroads and the steam engine, the Industrial Revolution created astounding changes in transportation. It made journeys shorter while at the same time, cheaper. Also, it made goods cheaper. For example, the transcontinental railroad was a phenomenon that changed American life. For the first time, people could ride from San Francisco, CA to New York, NY (Stein 4).
In 1840, railroads expanded from three thousand miles of track to thirty thousand in 1860. The railroads diminished the price of shipping about ninety-five percent in 1815 to 1860 (“Transportation and Communication Systems”). For example, before the Transcontinental Railroad, to travel across the country it cost almost $1,000.
After the completion of the Transcontinental Railroad, the price was approximately $150 (“Transcontinental Railroad”). With railroads, longer travel times cut down dramatically. Journeys that lasted weeks now lasted days, and trips that lasted days lasted mere hours (Hillstrom 54). In addition to faster transportation on railroads, the steam engine also helped improve efficient transportation during the Industrial Revolution. For instance, steamboats made travel times of two months to two weeks (“On the Water). Steamboats also made goods prices cheaper. As much as the Industrial Revolution was the best of times, due to faster production and better travel options, the Industrial Revolution was also the worst of times because of child labor.
Child labor was commonly found in the Industrial Revolution because due to mass production, many skills were antiquated and many of the jobs left were often easy enough for a child to do (Olson and Kenny 29). For instance, in the first American textile mill, children, from seven to twelve, made up most of the workers. Also, because the children were young and naive, they worked for extremely long hours for low pay, thus keeping wages down. In fact, some children were only paid a penny an hour (Nardo 58-59). Children also worked in poor working environments that were detrimental to their lives. For example, in factory where cheap bottles were made, and boys sorted coal. They were crouched while picking out coal and while washing the coal. There were many accidents that happened in factories.
Many times, the boys would cut or break a finger. However, sometimes a boy would get caught in a machine and later would be found dead (Stein 65-66). Another example was that the children stood for so long, that their knees turned in (Nardo 60) Although sometimes children got caught in machines, they were also abused by their employers. The trauma and the pain the children had endured often stayed with them for many years to come. For example, one child laborer stated that the overlooker was angry at her and started to beat her with a stick. When he was done beating her, she said that she would tell her mother what he had done.
The overlooker came back, with the master in tow. The master beat on her head, so much that she had lumps all over her head (Simkin). In Addition to child labor, poor working conditions for adults was also a reason why the Industrial Revolution was the worst of times. Also, adults worked in inadequate factories where disasters were common. In fact, between 1880 and 1900, there were about 385,000 deaths and injuries in factories and other industrial workplaces (Nardo 37). In sweatshops, they usually worked sixteen hour shifts. In these shifts, they were paid by the number of pieces that they made. Immigrant women and children were paid less than their male peers.
To make things worse, the sweatshops were very humid and crowded. In addition to longer hours and low pay, industrial disasters were extremely common. In 1869, there was a fire in a mine around Plymouth, Pennsylvania. Fire from a furnace lit timbers around the mine, and quickly spread. It soon burned the only exit available to the miners. In the end, 110 people were dead. Also, there was the Triangle Shirtwaist factory fire.
There, a fire, cause unknown, broke out on March 25, 1911 on the eighth floor. Many people on the floors under where the fire started were fortunate to get out. However, people on the ninth floor were not so fortunate.
Both of the exists had been blocked, and there was no way out. So, due to their instincts, many of the women jumped out from the ninth story windows (Nardo 39).In conclusion, Charles Dickens wrote, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” This quote summed up how the Industrial Revolution was. It showed that the assembly line was the “best of times because it created mass production, which eventually made cars cheaper. Another reason why it was the “best of times” was that the use of railroads enabled the average American to be able to ride across the country for 95 percent cheaper, and made goods cheaper.
The “worst of times” was making children work in poor conditions for low pay and for extremely long hours. And, adults working in inadequate working conditions. “The Industrial Revolution was the best of times due to the assembly line mass production. Before the Industrial Revolution, automobiles were not an item that any American could have because of the expensive price.”Works Cited”Child Labor.
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