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HIS109Y1 Lecture Notes - Combination Act 1799, Class Conflict, Working Poor

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Kenneth Bartlett

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Jan. 24th, 2011
Capitalism, the Middle Class and the Poor
Effects of Industrial Revolution had a polarizing effect on society although much
of Europe remained bound by its traditional ways, in the 1st half of the 19th
century the social impact of the Industrial Revolution was being felt, future
avenues of growth became apparent
Produced new ideas, positive step for human progress
Population growth became dramatic in the 19th century
Realized they were better off than ever before
Industrialization of Europe had enormous costs, not quite ready for the rapidity if
change that took place in the first half of the century
Industries were capital industries, needed in many ways than any other aspects
Factories had to be built from scratch, raw materials & their transportation was
Investment in materials and their transportation, moving the goods to market
Capitalists invested heavily, and constant re-investment
Insecurity of many industries meant that there were huge failures, drowned large
amounts of capital that had to be replaced
Spiral of growth and wealth from new industries confounded the most optimistic
who could hardly believe the rate of change
Trade and finance increased, as well as agriculture with the production of
chemical fertilizer (improved diets of Europeans, increased fertility rates more
Agricultural revolution spread from Europe to the rest of the world, large
importation of surplus grain to Europe (had enough food to feed population quite
cheaply, and save for times of famine, better fed Europeans were more resistant to
Other inventions changed the diets of Europeans, & improved their health
(discovery of the pasteurization of milk protein for Europeans)
Manufacturing continued to expand, production rose in pre-fabricated clothing
with the invention of the sewing machine, cheap clothing (members of lower class
could dress well & fashionably)
Clothing changed with the season spiral in capital made
Quality of steel improved required for rails
Reliable transportation over long distances making it easier to travel to Africa
increasing production, expanding international market & British Empire
Expansion of sea & land travel
Movement of goods by railway fast, cheap, could carry heavy bulky good (cost of
raw materials, food, transportation, & fuel decreased)

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Railways were a speculative venture, danger of losing your entire investment
resulted in individuals risking more and more of their income because they felt
there would be a greater return
People with capital were investors, & creators
Europe in the Middle of 19 th
Europe was an amazing place, destined to grow richer
Heroes of this age were the capitalists
People studied economics, rather than the Classics
Tradesmen devoured the rags to riches stories giving rise to a new genre;
Samuel Smiles “Self Help, 1859
Rags to riches stories became staples of popular literature, read them because you
could do the same too
Rise of mercantile & industrial classes caused a challenging of power
Term bourgeois came to include people involved in commerce, industry, &
banking as well as professionals such as lawyers, teachers, physicians, &
government officials at various levels
At lower end of economic scale were master craftspeople & shopkeepers
England upper middle class, & wealthy industrial elite sold daughters with
huge dowries for the re-lubrication of huge estates
Industrial entrepreneurs were those who constructed the factories, purchased the
machines, & figured out where the markets were
Members of the industrial middle class were seeking to reduce the barriers
between themselves & the landed elite, also trying to separate themselves from
the labouring classes below them
Forces of Conservatism
Efforts at Change: The Workers, p. 627
Workers looked to the formation of labor organizations to gain decent wages &
working conditions
Britain: Combination Acts in 1799 & 1800 outlawed the associations of workers
Legislation failed to prevent the formation of trade unions (associations were
formed by skilled workers in a # of new industries, including cotton spinners, iron
workers, coal miners, & shipwrights)
Unions served 2 purposes: 1) preservation of their own workers’ position by
limiting entry into their trade; 2) gain benefits from employers
Favored a working class struggle against employers, but only to win
improvements for the members of their own trades
No use to give higher wages to undisciplined minstrels because they would drink
the money away (lecture)
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