The Industrial Revolution
The Industrial Revolution completely changed the economic structure of the world. Industrial Revolution of eighteenth and nineteenth century brought socio-economic, technological and cultural advancement to Europe and America and the era saw unbelievable explosion of technological innovations to bring complete change in the lifestyles of people in various countries and societies. The first Industrial Revolution began in 18th century and it gave rise to the economic development to Britain. The second Industrial Revolution commenced in the 18th century and continued till mid 19th century. The second industrial wave also caused immense socioeconomic and technological advancements in America and Germany.
Before the Industrial revolution, agriculture was main source of revenue. Many aristocratic families in Britain owned large lands where tenant farmers were allowed to work. However, the English Parliament made changes in land rules and resultantly, the tenant farmers lost their lands and were forced to work for aristocratic families as cheap labour or to be driven to the cities. This led to the increase in population of cities by the incoming labour class, who were utilised as cheap labour in cotton mills, giving rise to the factory concept. As the societies were changing in Europe and America, business shifted from the family-centric to the factory-centric.
As the American Revolution started in 18th century to oppose British rule on colonies, many other areas of the world were undergoing a sea change. The French Revolution took place in 18th century and the concept of democracy was being introduced in many countries. Democracy in America after the American War of Independence and later the European countries, helped in the success of the Industrial Revolution even more.
The Industrial Revolution was also marked by a number of major inventions. In fact, the Industrial Revolution wouldn't have succeeded without some of these inventions. One of the major inventions of the era was the invention of the steam engine. As the steel industry started growing to various parts of the world, the British were trying to find different ways to melt iron and make steel. They found coal was better than wood, but mining coal was tough as the mines are filled with water and you have to go deep to get it. Englishman Thomas Newcomen in 1712, designed the first steam engine, which used simple technology and it pumped out water from the mines. The first steam engine was a single piston engine and it had very low efficiency. Subsequently, inventor James Watt added a cooling chamber to the steam engine and it was patented in 1769 as Watt's Steam Engine. During that time, the invention of the Spinning Jenny was made (In 1767) and it was used to spin cotton fast. The simple spinning wheel speeded up the process of making clothes and reduced labour hours. The wheel was designed by James Hargreaves, a carpenter.
In the following years, path-breaking inventions continued. In 1793, American Eli Whitney made the Cotton Gin, which was used to separate seeds from cotton. The telegraph system was developed by another American, Samuel F.B. Morse, in 1844 for overseas communication.
The Industrial Revolution brought about the invention of steam locomotives, automobile and radio. It also caused a stupendous growth of iron and steel manufacturing units as well as cotton mills. The Industrial Revolution can be credited for ushering in technological advancements which caused mass production at a low cost, and inventions of machines which used new energy sources. The automobiles allowed fast transportation and communication, which shortened distances and speeded up the industrial and economic progress. All in all, the Industrial Revolution transformed not only the American and European economy, but the economy of the world.
For further reference you can check following links:
Comprehensive Guide to The Industrial Revolution
Internet Modern History Sourcebook: Second Industrial Revolution
A site detailing the Second Industrial Revolution
The Major Events during the American War of Independence
Industrial Revolution Explained: Britannica Online Encyclopaedia
Industrial Revolution: An Information Page
A Brief History of The Industrial Revolution
Industrial Revolution - Encyclopaedia of Earth
Industrial Revolution: A Resource Page on Industrial Revolution
American Revolution- Encyclopaedia article on the American Revolution