Industrialization Spreads Around the World

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  • 0:01 The Industrial Revolution
  • 1:40 Industrialization…
  • 4:04 Industrialization…
  • 5:53 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Nate Sullivan

Nate Sullivan holds a M.A. in History and a M.Ed. He is an adjunct history professor, middle school history teacher, and freelance writer.

In this lesson, we will learn about how industrialization spread from Great Britain to other parts of the world. We will highlight key terms, figures, and developments in this process.

The Industrial Revolution

I would hope everyone watching this video knows what the Industrial Revolution was. But just to be sure, let's review before we go on and discuss the spread of industrialization around the world. The Industrial Revolution describes the tremendous advances in production, manufacturing, and other fields of engineering occurring between the late 18th century and mid-19th century. It's a little bit tricky because there is no precise beginning and ending date for the Industrial Revolution.

In fact, there is quite a bit of debate among historians over when the Industrial Revolution began and ended. Some historians even argue the term is a misnomer and there was no 'revolution.' They insist it was a paced, gradual transformation, not nearly as rapid and 'explosive' as we tend to think today. But, generally, the Industrial Revolution is said to have begun around the 1760s and lasted until about the 1840s. The Industrial Revolution was wide-ranging. It affected numerous areas, but its impact was especially felt in the areas of iron production, machine tools, textiles, and steam power.

Personally, I do consider the Industrial Revolution quite revolutionary. Within a short period of time, all kinds of new technology spread throughout the world. Let's dig a little deeper and look at the spread of industrialization.

Industrialization Spreads to North America

The Industrial Revolution began in Great Britain and spread to the United States and other parts of the world. Many of us today tend to think of the United States as a powerhouse of technology, and it's true that America has been one of the most innovative civilizations in history. However, in the early stages of the Industrial Revolution, the United States lagged behind developments in Great Britain. We Americans owe Great Britain a debt of gratitude for setting the foundation for the industrialization that allowed us to become a global superpower.

A good example of technology spreading from Great Britain to the United States is illustrated by the contributions of Samuel Slater. Samuel Slater (1768-1835) was an Englishman who mastered textile machine operation and illegally brought that technology to the United States. See, during this time, Great Britain had extremely advanced textile-producing machinery and naturally wanted to maintain a monopoly on this type of technology. There were, therefore, British laws against importing textile machinery.

Young Slater memorized the designs for cotton-spinning machines and reproduced them in the United States with wild success. For this, he is remembered in the U.S. as 'the Father of the American Industrial Revolution' and in Great Britain as 'Slater the Traitor.' Haha! 'Slater the Traitor!' I think that's funny.

Little by little, British industrial technology spread to the American colonies. Major industrialization was pretty much limited to the Northeastern region of the United States, at least until the 1820s-1840s. The Blackstone River Valley between Massachusetts and Rhode Island became a leading center of American industrialization in the 18th and 19th centuries. This region can be considered the birthplace of the American Industrial Revolution. From the Northeast, industrialization spread into the interior of the United States, and eventually throughout the Western Hemisphere.

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