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The 19th Century: The Industrial Revolution, expansion of Empire and political reform

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Henry Allen

on 4 March 2014

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Transcript of The 19th Century: The Industrial Revolution, expansion of Empire and political reform

Industrialised Britain – ‘the Age of Improvement’
The Victorians – some standard perceptions of them:
Conservative, or even reactionary – strong focus on ‘family values’; paternalistic society
Laissez-faire economics and self-reliance – poor have themselves to blame
Moral priggery and double-standards? (One set of morals for men, another for women)
But, Victorians experienced dramatic changes in their lifetimes, and were generally pro-change and optimistic about the future
They also raised questions which no-one had done before, the most important of which was…
The Victorian Age
The British Empire (1907)
SS Great Eastern (1859)

C. 1780-1830: industrial breakthrough
focus on textile production – the great ‘age of cotton’
C. 1830-1870: consolidation-period
emphasis on iron and coal
C. 1870-1914: increasing competition from abroad
led to diversification in production
Background: other countries, most notably Germany and USA, began to catch up in terms of industrial production – less so in terms of world trade
Industrialisation – 3 phases
A difficult concept – presupposes:
(1) Development from pre-industrial to industrial society
(2) Revolutionary rather than evolutionary development + two interpretations:
Industrial Revolution as a generic concept
Ex. of criteria: IR when more than 50% of workforce is employed in industry not agriculture.
Makes it possible to establish when an IR has taken place in a given country
PROBLEM: then it never happened in Britain…
The Industrial Revolution
No universal criteria of industrialisation, but rather:
IR defined as the development which took place within production and the economy in Britain from the later 18th century onwards.
Industrial Revolution - concept
Ironbridge (1779)
The Industrial Revolution, Expansion of Empire and Political Reform
The 19th Century
Women’s role in society was now debated, not just taken for granted; views:
Separate and different roles for men and women (traditional view), or:
Equality between the sexes – but how would this materialise in practice?
Argument for equality came to focus on enfranchisement – ‘votes for women’
The suffragette-movement – Emmeline Pankhurst
What did Queen Victoria herself think about the developments during her reign?
‘We are not amused’…
The ‘Woman Question’
Queen Victoria (1837-1901)
The Second Reform Act 1867
Conservative PM Disraeli’s hope of reinvigorating Tory party
Electorate increased from 1.3 mill to 2.5 mill
Political Parties have to adjust to larger electorate
The Third Reform Act 1884 and Redistribution Seats Act 1885
Liberal PM Gladstone, same reason as Disraeli
Uniform system of elections – electorate from 3.5 mill to 5.5 mill
Constituencies of (roughly) equal size are introduced
Age of mass politics begin – political parties have to relate to a large electorate
View: the ‘British way’ of political reform:
Pragmatic, un-idealistic and essentially conservative: piecemeal reforms were carried through when they were long overdue - political reasons.
Result: Britain avoided the revolutions and bloodshed of many European countries (France in particular)
Further extensions of franchise
The Great (first) Reform Act 1832:
End of ‘rotten boroughs’ – representative principle largely carried through
Industrial towns such as Manchester given representation in House of Commons
Electorate increased from 14% to 20% of adult males
View: victory for the up-and-coming industrial and commercial middle class, over the old landed aristocracy?

2 new political parties form in the wake of the Great Reform Act:
(1) Liberal Whigs and Radicals (in Commons) form The Liberal Party in 1830s (modern party organisation only emerges in the 1870s)
(2) Conservative Whigs (nicknamed ‘Tories’ by their opponents) form The Conservative Party about the same time. Tory-name is adopted by party.
Political development: Extending the franchise
Industrial might led to military supremacy
Launching of the ironclad HMS Warrior in 1860
Past: British naval superiority based on numbers of ships
and quality of seamanship
Now: British produced warships which were technologically superior
Naval superiority ensures peace on the oceans –
ultimate guarantor for world trade & empire (as well as British security)
known as 'Pax Britannica'
Pax Britannica
Forth Rail Bridge (1890)
Industrialisation on a large scale was facilitated by:
(1) Availability of Labour
Agricultural revolution of 17th and 18th century freed up a ‘pool’ of labour for the new factory-complexes
(2) Availability of Capital
Accumulated through trade & commerce in 17th and 18th centuries
(3) Availability of Technology and Energy
Great inventions (steam engine etc) and availability of COAL!
(4) The Existence of a Capitalist Culture
Also developed through commercial culture of the 18th century
Latter point was crucial, since the first three were arguably in place in China in the 14th century…
Why in Britain?
The Industrial Revolution: Coalbrookdale by night
Great Power rivalry after unification of Germany 1871:
Race for colonies in Africa
By 1914: whole continent under European control, except Ethiopia and Liberia
Britain & France dominate
Old (but small) imperial powers: Portugal, Belgium and Spain
Newcomers left with spoils: Germany and Italy
The Race for Africa
‘2nd Empire’ built after loss of American colonies
Jewel in the Crown: India
Administered by private East India Company until 1858
Indirect British rule through local princes + large standing Indian Army under British command, led to:
Administration ‘on the cheap’
But also focus on Africa
Imperialist Cecil Rhodes: ‘telegraph line from Cairo to Cape Town’ – continuous north-south British colonies, led to:
Conflict with French ambitions of a East-West African Empire across the Sahara
Imperial Expansion
HMS Victory was 40 years old when used as Nelson’s flagship at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805
HMS Warrior was revolutionary in 1860, but already obsolete by 1870.
Rapid development until HMS Dreadnought in 1906
Both ships preserved at Portsmouth
From Victory to Warrior
‘Condition of England’-question
Industrialisation: progress or decline?
Dangerous and hard work in new factories & mines – child labour
New working classes lived in slums
IR ruined the ‘face’ of Britain - ugly
IR led to rapidly increasing production of material goods - economic growth
IR made it possible to sustain rapid population growth
New and modern society – human achievement
New research suggests positive developments for women.
Positive or Negative?
Isambard Kingdom Brunel (1806-59)
Great Engineering
The Textile Industry
Raw materials
Henry Allen
Rotten Boroughs:
Like we spoke about in the last lecture with regard to Scotland being one big 'Rotten Borough'
Issues of representation - small population boroughs that could be bribed and as a result undue influence in parliament achieved
Historical reasons for boundaries
Still much discussion about boundaries today - argued to favor Labour
Industrial Revolution
The Expansion of Empire
Political Reform
IR fundamentally changed Britain in social and economic terms
The Empire made GB a dominant world 'super power'
Democratic rights and expansion of liberty continued
Friedrich Engles 'The Condition of the Working Class in England' (1845)
Why Europe?
1. Cultural superiority...?
2. Freer institutions to allow incentives
3. More technologically advanced
4. Small populations
Social Consequences:
Growth in middle class with disposable income
Professional class to orchestrate industry and empire
Working class to provide labour
Poor Laws and Poorhouses (1834)
Transportation and technology - rapid change
Try and imagine what it must have been like...
The Opium Wars
Two sets of conflict between the British and the Chinese
Ist 1839-1842
2nd 1856-1860
British Empire vs. Qing Dynasty
Chinese started to smoke opium recreationally - bought from the British
Debate in China between legalise and tax, or forbid and punish - War on Drugs
Decision to suppress caused Britain to attack...in the name of 'free trade'
British Navy was significantly more capable.
23,000 Chinese dead and 69 British....
Hong Kong aquired.
The British Press and the 'Public Sphere'
Removal of 'taxes on knowledge'
Newspaper stamp duty (1855)
Emergence of press industry
The 'Fourth Estate'
Penny/half penny dailies
Huge increase in circulation
Chartism, the Unions and the Labour Movement
Despite the domination of Liberals and Conservatives, there were other political movements on the rise - working class ones
1830s - Call for universal adult male suffrage
Failure - or some success?
Late 1800s saw rise of working class movement in Trade Unions
Individual skills and industries had their own unions, came together in TUC (Trades Union Congress)
Founding of the Labour Party by Keir Hardie in 1893
Established elements of socialism in UK
The Kings and Queen of the 19th Century
Only 4 monarchs in the period
George III (1760-1820)
George IV (1820-1830)
William IV (1830-1837)
Queen Victoria...
Philip James de Loutherbourgh (1801)
Full transcript