Nineteenth Century Industrialization

he nineteenth century witnessed an amazing transformation in the political and economic life of Europeans and Americans alike. During the first decade of the century almost all of Europe was under the power of France's ruler, Napoleon Bonaparte (1769—1821), or other members of his family who controlled the outer regions of the empire. With widespread support for overturning the old systems of Europe, Napoleon had built a vast French empire. Although Napoleon was defeated in 1814 at Waterloo and the French, Austrian, and Prussian monarchies' power was restored, it did not take long for revolution to unsettle the royals' power once again. Throughout Europe and the United States, the new technologies of the Industrial Revolution transformed economies based on large farms to those based on industrial production, which created a wealthy middle class. Possessing economic power, these merchants and industrialists also wanted political power, which the monarchical systems of government denied them. By the end of the nineteenth century many of the older European empires had split into the independent states of Italy, Germany, France, and Russia, carving the way for the growth of the modern-day nations.

As the political boundaries and rulers of countries changed during the century, the economies of Europe and America grew rapidly. By the end of the eighteenth century, Great Britain had


The Industrial Revolution of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries had a direct effect on how clothing materials were made. Four innovations in particular helped change fashion: the cotton gin, spinning jenny, sewing machine, and artificial dye.

Cotton Gin

For most of the eighteenth century, cotton was an exotic commodity because it was difficult to process—it took one slave ten hours to separate one pound of cotton lint from its seeds. In 1793, a Yale University graduate named Eli Whitney (1765-1825) visited a plantation in Savannah, Georgia, and designed a machine to remove cotton seeds from lint. His cotton gin worked by placing cotton into a hopper, where the cotton would be held back while a rotating drum with wires would pull the cotton away. As a result of Whitney's invention, cotton became the American South's leading cash crop, supplying Great Britain with most of its cotton. Where the South had once produced little more than sixty tons of cotton a year, by 1840 the South was generating a million tons of cotton a year. Indirectly, the cotton gin meant that more slaves would be needed to pick cotton. Within thirty years of Whitney's invention, the number of American slaves had tripled.

Spinning Jenny

The spinning jenny was an eighteenth century modification of the familiar spinning wheel. One day in the 1750s, English carpenter James Hargreaves (1720-1778) inadvertently knocked over his spinning wheel in his Lancashire, England, home and was startled to see it, on its side, still spinning. He instantly envisioned a series of spinning wheels similarly aligned; such a device, he realized, could approximate the rhythm of human fingers. Following a decade of fits and starts Hargreaves completed his spinning jenny in 1768. The population of existing spinners saw Hargreaves's invention as a threat to their livelihood, because one jenny could do the work of several men. The spinners turned violent. A group of them formed a vigilante mob, stormed into Hargreaves's home, and destroyed his inventions. He moved his family to neighboring Nottingham, and opened a mill where he manufactured yarn until his death. However, grown into the dominant economic power in Europe, surpassing France and Spain. The trade routes established between Europe and the rest of the world during the eighteenth century promoted the production of manufactured goods and laid the foundation for the expansion of industrialization in Great Britain and, eventually, in other countries. During the first seventy years of the nineteenth century Great Britain developed the first industrial society, with unprecedented trade, urban, and population growth. The factory systems developed in Great Britain soon spread to the rest of Europe—especially Belgium, France, and Germany—and America. Industrialization brought rapid growth of cities and factories, and with them the expansion of the middle- and working-class populations. The expanding middle classes put pressure on their govern-

he was unsuccessful in obtaining a patent for his invention.

Sewing Machines

The most significant fashion-related invention of the 1800s, the sewing machine, was the work of several men. French tailor Barthelemy Thimmonier (1793-1859) invented a machine in 1830 which used a hooked needle to make chain stitches. Threatened by the efficiency of Thimmonier's machine, local tailors formed a mob and attacked Thimmonier and destroyed his invention. In 1846, American inventor Elias Howe (1819-1867) patented a sewing machine which made lock stitches with an eye-pointed needle. Howe's invention did not sell well, but with the addition of Isaac Singer (1811-1875) and Allen Wilson's (1824-1888) modifications, which made Howe's invention work more easily and efficiently, the sewing machine became quite popular when the first home sewing machine was sold in 1889.

Artificial Dyes

From biblical times through the mid-nineteenth century, people derived dyes from solely natural resources, such as the indigo or sumac plant or the shellfish. The first synthetic, or man-made, dye was only created in 1 856, when an eighteen-year-old British chemist named William Henry Perkin (1838-1907) was attempting to synthesize quinine when he mixed aniline together with a solution of alcohol and potassium dichromate. The unexpected result was mauveine, a purple dye that became very popular in Great Britain. Queen Victoria (1819-1901) wore mauve to her daughter's wedding, and even British postage stamps were dyed with mauveine. Perkin's mentor, German scientist August Wilhelm von Hofmann (1818-1892), was inspired by his student's discovery to develop his own dyes, and within a few years Hofmann created rosaniline, a reddish-brown dye made from aniline and carbon tertrachloride. Within only a few years, in 1868, German chemist Carl Graebe (18411927) created alizarin, a synthetic vegetable dye.

Each of these inventions, in their own way, made clothing faster, easier, and cheaper to make. The result continues to be felt in the ever changing fashions marketed each new season throughout the world.

ments to gain political influence throughout the Western world. Soon wealthy landowners were joined by wealthy merchants and factory owners in government, and life was forever changed for working people. In general, people became richer and could afford more luxuries than ever before.

The introduction of life's luxuries

Industrialization, or the manufacture or production of goods on a large scale, offered the luxuries of life to more people than ever before. The Industrial Revolution had brought the construction of canals and railways across Europe and America. These canals and railways created national and even broader markets by transporting goods manufactured in new factories great distances. Besides transporting goods to more corners of Western civilization than ever before, railways also transported people. Travel had once been available to only the wealthiest people. The rise of industry throughout the Western world increased production and the increased wealth of the majority of people encouraged many to travel more widely and purchase more goods than ever before. The leisure of travel opened doors to new ways of life for many. Leisure activities also required new outfits and soon people were wearing special bathing costumes and tennis outfits.

As the century continued, more inventions increased the ease with which people lived and communicated with each other. Cheap postal services were introduced and magazines began to circulate nationally and internationally. The telegraph could electronically transmit information instantly from one end of a country to another. The International Exhibition of 1851 held in London displayed thousands of these inventions from around the world, including a new product called rubber, a locomotive that could travel at sixty miles-per-hour, cameras, printing presses, and a variety of intricately woven fabrics. During the 140 days it was open, nearly six million people traveled to see the exhibition and sample the new inventions. By the end of the nineteenth century, the Europeans and Americans had fully embraced the benefits of industrialization. By the end of the nineteenth century, the first advertising, chains of retail stores, and widely-circulating magazines combined with the efficient manufacturing systems and trade routes to transform the Western world into a mass consumer society. The rise of consumer spending would bring clothes of reasonable quality, as well as the shifting trends of fashion, to more people than ever before.


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