Chapter XIV. European Civilization, 1871-1914
71. The “Civilized World”
A. Materialistic and non-materialistic Ideals: Though politically divided, Europe prided itself in progress and saw
other nations as “backward.” Europe saw its material standards (food, housing, sanitation, transport, and
communication) and values (science over superstition, secular Christian morality over polygamy, infanticide,
legal prostitution, torture, caste, slavery). Europeans pointed to the falling death rate and to declining infant
mortality, rising life expectancy, improving literacy, and higher labor productivity.
B. The “Zones” of Civilization:
Inner zone, the “Europe of Steam”: from Glasgow and Stockholm in the north, Danzig and Trieste in the east,
and Florence and Barcelona in the south--an area of heavy industry, railroads, scientific achievement, capital,
and liberalism. The “outer zone”: Ireland, most of the Iberian peninsula, southern Italy, and most of Eastern
Europe, was agricultural, with high poverty and illiteracy.
72. Basic Demography: The Increase of the Europeans
A. European and World Population Growth, 1650-1980
Relation of Europe’s population to that of the world as a whole: examine the chart, which shows that Europe
reached a peak of population about 1900 (30%) and since has fallen to its historical average of 20% of world’s
pop. Factors: subsiding of bubonic plague and retreat of smallpox. Agricultural expansion and revolution of
transportation that made possible shifting of food supplies. Order was maintained in China and Japan by strong
rulers, with peace in India and Indonesia maintained by colonial powers. Only Africa experienced a relative
decline in population.
B. Stabilization of European Population: Europe’s birth rate has fallen since 1910; that France fell first, beginning
about 1830. Europe was based on the small family system, begun about 1600: later marriages, accumulation
of savings, spacing of children. When the Code Napoleon required the division of property among all children,
peasants began to limit births. Crowded cities set a premium on small families, especially with the reduction of
child labor, compulsory schools, and longer dependency. The overall population continued to rise, but with
rising productivity there was no sense of overpopulation.
C. Growth of Cities and Urban Life: Rural populations became more dense, with intensive agriculture, but the key
was urbanization. The city was the child of the railroad, enabling concentration of manufacturing and supplying
food and raw materials. Cities were impersonal, with few self-help mechanisms --little support from neighbors.
Public opinion, was formed by urban newspapers --yellow journalism (sensationalism) by 1900. Disrespect for
tradition, receptivity to new ideas --spread of socialism and blatant forms of nationalism.
D. Migration from Europe, 1840-1940
Movement of 60 million people (mostly from the British Isles, Italy, Austria -Hungary, and Germany) from
1840-1900, to the US (34 m), Asiatic Russia (7 m), Argentina (6.4m), Canada (5.2m), and Brazil (4 m). New
railroads and steamship lines made migration much cheaper and easier. Immigration peaks coincided with
prosperity, but immigrants also fled famine (Ireland), political unrest (Germany) or persecution (Russia).
Equally important were a new tolerance for movement and the end of serfdom outside of Russia.
73. The World Economy of the Nineteenth Century
A. The new industrial revolution: the first phase (steam, textile, metallurgy, railroads) was followed by a second, with
electricity, internal combustion engines, and diesels. Rapid change followed with such developments as dyes,
fertilizers, explosives, synthetics, communications, medicine, and steel. Belgium and France followed Britain;
next came Germany and the US. Germany passed Britain in steel, and the US doubled Germany. By 1914, the
US surpassed European nations in coal and steel production, manufacturing, farm mechanization, and
pioneering mass production.
B. Free Trade and the European “Balance of Payments”: Britain by 1850 moved to free trade, and other nations
soon followed. Until 1914, extreme mobility of good across political borders was normal. Europe had a huge
import surplus, with a trade deficit of $2 billion--a difference made up by shipping, insurance, and interest.
C. Capital: Europe exported capital; workers’ wages had risen, but vast pools of wealth were available for developing nations
like the US, especially from Britain. Much of the capital went to build infrastructure; the America’s railways were financed
and often run by European capital--as were docks, mines, warehouses, roads and schools.
D. International Money: Europe adopted the British gold standard by the 1870s, resulting high economic stability
until 1914. Prices steadily fell until gold discoveries in the 1890s increased the supply. Debtors, including
farmers and businessmen, were hurt, but creditors, the working class and financiers, were helped. London was
the new financial center; its bankers financed France’s reparations in 1815 and even loaned money to Russia
during the Crimean War. English “acceptance houses” paid English merchants for goods and collected through
international banking channels. England was the bankers’ banker, the insurers’ insurer.
E. World Market: Unity, Competition--and Insecurity: A true world market was created; goods, services, money, capital, people
flowed easily across borders. Commodities were international, with supply and demand set world -
wide. The system was precarious; a US grain surplus could ruin growers in Argentina, and factory owners faced
brutal competition. Workingmen suffered if business was slow or jobs were eliminated by new machinery.
Cycles of boom and depression began, with a long slide from 1873 to 1893. The economy was based on
expansion and credit, and a collapse of confidence was deadly. Governments, to ensure against insecurities, used
protective tariffs, social insurance, and welfare to an increasing degree. Laissez faire capitalism declined as
unions and the socialist movement both grew.
F. Changes in Big Business: small businesses were replaced by large, impersonal corporations based on limited
liability. Expensive machinery required more complex corporations, and industrial capitalism led to finance
capitalism. Businesses were concentrated--as with department stores. Vertical integration was characteristic; in
steel, corporations bought out iron and coal mines and began producing steel, including both raw steel and
manufactures. Horizontal integration meant buying out competitors as a means of reducing competition and
protecting themselves against market fluctuations. Trusts in the US and cartels in Europe fixed prices or
divided up markets. Huge corporations like US Steel (Carnegie), Krupp in Germany, Schneider-Creusot in
France, and Vickers-Armstrong in Britain had great power but reduced fluctuations and increased stability.
74. The Advance of Democracy: France, Britain, Germany
A. France: the Establishment of the Third Republic
The Republic of 1792 and 1848, was now instituted again after the defeat of France in 1870. Free elections brought
a monarchist majority, which Parisians refused to accept. Paris created the Commune, patriotic and republican,
but hardly socialist. It was suppressed in long, bloody battles, after which 20,000 were executed and 7,500
exiled. Thus was born the Third Republic.
With monarchists split (Orleanists and Bourbons), France became a Republic by one vote. It had an elected
President, responsible Premier, Chamber of Deputies (elected by ums) and a Senate (indirect vote). Responsible
government was assured, with the premier presiding over a cabinet. The dozen parties brought constantly
shifting coalitions, but France remained stable because the machinery of state (ministries, prefectures, law
courts, police, army) continued unchanged.
B. Troubles of the Third French Republic: The Republic was opposed by the upper classes, clergy, and pro army officers. The
middle class was republican, and they had a parliamentary majority in 1879. A major crisis arose due to the plotting of a
would -be dictator, General Boulanger, supported by radical republicans, dissatis fied workers, Bonapartists , and
monarchists; his program was a revenge war with Germany. Then came the Dreyfus Affair of 1894. Yet France was
stabilized by the Republic. Workers were not so well off, but there were few of them. Bourgeois/peasant France was
comfortable, but not equipped for the transition to the modern industrial world. France fell behind in industrial development,
lacking entrepreneurial skills and stable governments --with 50 different ministries between 1871-1914. French labor was
frustrated, especially since the largest party, the Radical Socialists, represented the small shopkeepers and farmers. Workers
distrusted both government and politics.
C. The British Constitutional Monarchy:
1. Britain was reasonable, orderly, peaceable; in the era of Victoria, the Liberal Gladstone and Conservative Disraeli
alternated in office. The vote slowly expanded, from 12% in 1833 (middle class) to 33% in 1867 (urban workers).
Disraeli supported expanding the vote, but conservatives generally feared the result.
Liberals pushed the vote to rural workers in 1885, with 75%. Not until 1918 was full ums reached, when
women over 30 were also enfranchised. Until 1911, only “gentlemen” could run for Parliament--no
salaries were paid.
2. Parties alternated in power but policies were stable. Liberals represented the industrial and commercial
concerns, while conservatives were supported by the landed aristocracy. Liberals tended to pioneer, moving
to state-supported public education, secret ballot, legalizing labor unions, introducing civil service exams,
eliminating the purchase of military commissions. Conservatives led in labor legislation. The rise of the
Labour Party after 1900 led the liberals to drop support of laissez faire in favor of legislation for workers.
Liberals from 1906-1916 (Asquith and David Lloyd George) established the basic social welfare system--
sickness, accident, and unemployment insurance, old -age pensions, minimum wage--and weakened strike
restrictions and backed the progressive income and inheritance tax. Opposition by the Lords to changes led
to the bill in 1911 removing the Lords’ veto power. Liberals became the party of labor, and conservatives
the party of industry and landed wealth--but the liberals were soon to fall to the new Labour Party.
D. The Irish Question: The Irish obstructed Parliament. Their chief grievances were relations of peasant and
absentee landlord and Anglican tithes. Gladstone improved conditions, disestablishing the Irish Church; by
1900, the Conservative government allowed peasants to buy land. But the issue of Home Rule split
Gladstone’s Liberals. It was granted in 1914, but the Ulstermen objected to inclusion in an autonomous Ireland
where they were outnumbered. Only after much violence (Easter, 1916) did Catholic Eire receive dominion
status (1922). Ulster remained in the United Kingdom, with a large, discontented Catholic minority.
E. Bismarck and the German Empire: Germany was a union of 25 states dominated by Prussia. Bismarck remained the “Iron
Chancellor” for 20 years; while he had a majority in the Reichstag, he believed the emperor and Chancellor should rule,
regardless. The first major issue was the Catholic Church, with the Papacy moving to regain power. Bismarck began his
Kulturkampf with restrictions of Catholic worship and education, expulsion of Jesuits, and