The Industrial Revolution as a World Event
1715 - 1840 CE
Why This Unit?
In 1750, China’s share of world manufacturing output was 32.8 percent, while Europe’s was 23.2 percent. Together, India and China accounted for 57.3 percent of world manufacturing output, and if the rest of Asia is included, the total jumps to 70 percent. Most of the manufacturing was in cotton and silk textiles, which became the basis for industrialization in Britain. Once started, Britain’s adoption of steam-powered mechanical manufacturing changed the production capacity globally. It enormously increased the capacity of some groups, mostly the British at first, to produce goods and services. It greatly altered the distribution of wealth and poverty around the world and engendered new attitudes towards nature and society. The fossil fuel revolution was a revolution in the use of coal, which transformed the world’s energy regime from one based on biomass (wood) and animal muscle to one increasingly dependent on fossil fuels. Early in the era, the steam engine harnessed coal power, which vastly expanded the amount of energy per capita available to humans. Steam-powered industry first became established in Britain, but the Industrial Revolution was a global event. It happened to the whole world in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, though in different ways and at different moments.
Upon completing this unit, students
will be able to:
1.) Identify the “engine science” culture that developed in Great Britain.
2.) Compare manufacturing in Great Britain, Qing China, and Mughal India.
3.) Compare the sugar and cotton plantation system with the early textile factories in Great Britain.
4.) Analyze how and why the Industrial Revolution got started.
5.) Explain in what sense the Industrial Revolution was a global event in its origins and development, not just a British or European event.
Time and Materials
This unit will take about four days of 45-minute class periods.
Students may need access to statistics on the current economy, including the power company operations in their area, as well as the cost and source of cotton clothing that students wear.
Table of Contents
Why this unit?
Time and materials
The historical context
This unit in the Big Era timeline
Lesson 1: What was so steamy about industrialization in Britain?
Lesson 2: What was so hot about industrialization in Britain?
Lesson 3: How did industrialization of textile production change British policies toward trade?
This unit and the Three Essential Questions
This unit and the Seven Key Themes
This unit and the Standards in Historical Thinking