The New Power Balance, 1850–1900
I0. New Technologies and the World Economy
10. By 1850 the first railroads had proved so successful that every industrializing country
began to build railroad lines. Railroad building in Britain, France, Germany, Canada,
Russia, Japan, and especially in the United States fueled a tremendous expansion in the
world’s rail networks from 1850 to 1900.
20. In the non-industrialized world, railroads were also built wherever they would be of
value to business or to government.
30. Railroads consumed huge amounts of land and timber for ties and bridges. Throughout
the world, railroads opened new land to agriculture, mining, and other human
exploitation of natural resources.
B0. Steamships and Telegraph Cables
10. In the mid-nineteenth century a number of technological developments in shipbuilding
made it possible to increase the average size and speed of ocean-going vessels. These
developments included the use of iron (and then steel) for hulls, propellers, and more
20. Entrepreneurs developed a form of organization known as the shipping line in order to
make the most efficient use of these large and expensive new ships. Shipping lines also
used the growing system of submarine telegraph cables in order to coordinate the
movements of their ships around the globe.
C0. The Steel and Chemical Industries
10. Steel is an especially hard and elastic form of iron that could be made only in small
quantities by skilled blacksmiths before the eighteenth century. A series of inventions in
the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries made it possible to produce large quantities of
steel at low cost.
20. Until the late eighteenth century chemicals were also produced in small amounts in small
workshops. The nineteenth century brought large-scale manufacture of chemicals and the
invention of synthetic dyes and other new organic chemicals.
30. Nineteenth century advances in explosives (including Alfred Nobel’s invention of
dynamite) had significant effects on both civil engineering and on the development of
more powerful and more accurate firearms.
40. The complexity of industrial chemistry made it one of the first fields in which science
and technology interacted on a daily basis. This development gave a great advantage to
Germany, where government-funded research and cooperation between universities and
industries made the German chemical and explosives industries the most advanced in the
world by the end of the nineteenth century.
10. In the 1870s inventors devised efficient generators that turned mechanical energy into
electricity that could be used to power arc lamps, incandescent lamps, streetcars,
subways, and electric motors for industry. 20. Electricity helped to alleviate the urban pollution caused by horse-drawn vehicles.
Electricity also created a huge demand for copper, bringing Chile, Montana, and southern
Africa more deeply into the world economy.
E0. World Trade and Finance
10. Between 1850 and 1913 world trade expanded tenfold, while the cost of freight dropped
between 50 and 95 percent so that even cheap and heavy products such as agricultural
products, raw materials, and machinery were shipped around the world.
20. The growth of trade and close connections between the industrial economies of Western
Europe and North America brought greater prosperity to these areas, but it also made
them more vulnerable to swings in the business cycle. One of the main causes of this
growing interdependence was the financial power of Great Britain.
30. Non-industrial areas were also tied to the world economy. The non-industrial areas were
even more vulnerable to swings in the business cycle because they depended on the
export of raw materials that could often be replaced by synthetics or for which the
industrial nations could develop new sources of supply. Nevertheless, until World War I,
the value of exports from the tropical countries generally remained high, and the size of
their populations remained moderate.
II0. Social Changes
A0. Population and Migrations
10. Between 1850 and 1914 Europe saw very rapid population growth, while emigration
from Europe spurred population growth in the United States, Canada, Australia, New
Zealand, and Argentina. As a result, the proportion of people of European ancestry in the
world’s population rose from one-fifth to one-third.
20. Reasons for the increase in European population include a drop in the death rate,
improved crop yields, the provision of grain from newly opened agricultural land in
North America, and the provision of a more abundant year-round diet as a result of
canning and refrigeration.
30. Asians also migrated in large numbers during this period, often as indentured laborers.
B0. Urbanization and Urban Environments
10. In the latter half of the nineteenth century European, North American, and Japanese cities
grew tremendously both in terms of population and of size. In areas like the English
Midlands, the German Ruhr, and around Tokyo Bay, towns fused into one another,
creating new cities.
20. Urban growth was accompanied by changes in the character of urban life. Technologies
that changed the quality of urban life for the rich (and later for the working class as well)
included mass transportation networks, sewage and water supply systems, gas and
electric lighting, police and fire departments, sanitation and garbage removal, building
and health inspection, schools, parks, and other amenities.
30. New neighborhoods and cities were built (and older areas often rebuilt) on a rectangular
grid pattern with broad boulevards and modern apartment buildings. Cities were divided
into industrial, commercial, and residential zones, with the residential zones occupied by
different social classes.
40. While urban environments improved in many ways, air quality worsened. Coal used as
fuel polluted the air, while the waste of the thousands of horses that pulled carts and
carriages lay stinking in the streets until horses were replaced by streetcars and
automobiles in the early twentieth century.
C0. Middle-Class Women's “Separate Sphere”
10. The term “Victorian Age” refers not only to the reign of Queen Victoria (r.1837–1901),
but also to the rules of behavior and the ideology surrounding the family and relations
between men and women. Men and women were thought to belong in “separate spheres,”
the men in the workplace, the women in the home. 20. Before electrical appliances, a middle-class home demanded lots of work; the advent of
modern technology in the nineteenth century eliminated some tasks and made others
easier, but rising standards of cleanliness meant that technological advances did not
translate into a decrease in the housewife’s total workload.
30. The most important duty of middle-class women was to raise their children. Victorian
mothers lavished much time and attention on their children, but girls received an
education very different from that of boys.
40. Governments enforced legal discrimination against women throughout the nineteenth
century, and society frowned on careers for middle-class women. Women were excluded
from jobs that required higher education; teaching was a permissible career, but women
teachers were expected to resign when they got married. Some middle-class women were
not satisfied with home life and became involved in volunteer work or in the women’s
D0. Working-Class Women
10. Working-class women led lives of toil and pain. Many became domestic servants, facing
long hours, hard physical labor, and sexual abuse from their masters or their masters’
20. Many more young women worked in factories, where they were relegated to poorly paid
work in the textiles and clothing trades. Married women were expected to stay home,
raise children, do housework, and contribute to the family income by taking in boarders,
doing sewing or other piecework jobs, or by washing other people’s clothes.
III0. Socialism and Labor Movements
A0. Marx and Socialism
10. Socialism began as an intellectual movement. The best-known socialist was Karl Marx
(1818–1883) who, along with Friedrich Engles (1820–1895) wrote the Communist
Manifesto (1848) and Das Kapital (1867).
20. Marx saw history as a long series of clashes between social classes.
30. Marx's theories provided an intellectual framework for general dissatisfaction with
unregulated industrial capitalism.
40. Marx took steps to translate his intellectual efforts into political action.
B0. Labor Movements
10. Labor unions were organizations formed by industrial workers to defend their interests in
negotiations with employers. Labor unions developed from the workers’ “friendly
societies” of the early nineteenth century and sought better wages, improved working
conditions, and insurance for workers.
20. During the nineteenth century workers were brought into electoral politics as the right to
vote was extended to all adult males in Europe and North America. Instead of seeking
the violent overthrow of the bourgeois class, socialists used their voting po