1850-1871 (Members Only)

Digital History of the West 1850-1871

a key to global education: Vitruvian Man by Leonardo da Vinci

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Britain’s victory in the Napoleonic Wars brought reinvigoration of the British Empire. At the same time, the United States grew even more rapidly. This expansion established Anglicanism as the the West’s religion and English as its dominant language as Great Britain and the United States grew to dominate global culture.

The steam engine, fueled by coal, proved itself the engine of the Industrial Revolution and its seemingly limitless economic growth. As the British said, “Steam is an Englishman.” It powered locomotives that transported people and freight faster than ever before. Enormous volumes of goods were produced in factories, where work conditions were usually dangerous and dehumanizing. Wages were pitiable, and entire families (including small children) were forced to work. This led to some reform by the mid-19th century, but the economic model of mercantilism was replaced by capitalism and the big corporations whose profit motive made little allowance for the well-being of their workers.

New ideologies arose as a reaction to the inhumane excesses of the Industrial Revolution. The Luddites opposed machinery, fearing its harm to the common good, and socialists supported the elimination of private property and the sharing of the copious industrial wealth of the age. The nobility still occupied the top of the social ladder, along with capitalists and educated professionals, but industrial workers remained at the bottom. Their plight was mitigated by the rise of unions to fight for better wages and rights, but notwithstanding these changes, Western society remaining mostly agrarian and backward.

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1850-1871 Index | Culture: ArtLiteratureMusicScience and TechnologyMedicine | Power: Ideology | Economy | Austria | Canada | England: Power | France: Power | Germany: Power : PolitiesWar | Italy: PowerUnification | Russia: Power

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