Readings in Modern European History, Vol. 2

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BEARD, The Industrial Revolution (London, 1901), pp. 39 sq. World History

211.

Efficiency of Modern Industrial Methods (From C. A. Beard’s the Industrial Revolution)

To show the expansion of trade following the new inventions it is necessary to give a few statistics. When machinery was introduced into the textile industries the output of manufactured goods increased by leaps and bounds. In 1764 the cotton imported into England amounted to about 4,000,000 pounds; in 1841 it had increased to nearly 500,000,000 pounds. In 1792 the amount of cotton imported into Lancashire alone from the United States was 138,000 pounds; in 1800 it was 18,000,000 pounds. The wool imported into England in 1766 was only about 2,000,000 pounds; in 1830 the amount had risen to more than 32,000,000 pounds. In 1788 the iron output was 61,000 tons; in 1839 it was over 1,250,000 tons. One hundred years after Crompton invented his spinning mule there were in Lancashire 5655 cotton mills running a total of nearly 38,000,000 spindles and 463,000 power looms; in the twenty-two years from 1793 to 1815 English exports, according to official valuation, rose from £7,000,000 annually to £58,000,000, in spite of the depression caused by the Napoleonic wars.

These figures give an inkling of the industrial transformation which followed the great inventions. Now let us turn to the real increase in the productive capacity of the individual. In other words, let us see whether productive capacity has grown more rapidly than the population. Unfortunately careful statistics are only of recent date, but we know that Hargreaves’s jenny worked, originally, only eight spindles. The number was gradually increased to one hundred and twenty, and by the beginning of the nineteenth century to two hundred. The jenny now has more than a thousand spindles, each revolving at the rate of ten thousand revolutions per minute. A man and two boys can tend two thousand spindles.

The hand-loom weaver used to make from sixty to eighty throws of the shuttle per minute. Fifty years ago the best power loom made only one hundred throws; to-day the highest-grade loom runs at the rate of about four hundred per minute, and along with the increase of the productive capacity of the machine there is a decrease in the amount of human labor required in the operations. Formerly one weaver tended but one loom; now one worker tends from two to ten looms, according to the grade of goods. So great has been the increase in the efficiency of textile machinery that a single operative can supply two hundred and fifty persons with the necessary cotton garments, or three hundred persons with woolen clothing.

In every branch of industry attention has been devoted to increasing productive power, until almost marvelous results have been attained. In the continuation of the construction of the Cologne cathedral in 1870, two men with a steam crane lifted as much stone in a day as three hundred and sixty men could have done in the same time in the Middle Ages. The old craftsman produced at best a couple of pairs of shoes per day; the modern worker with machinery can turn out five hundred pairs a day. In one year six English workmen can produce enough bread to supply a thousand people for the same length of time. This includes all the labor from the breaking up of the soil to the delivery of the bread to the consumer.

The extent to which mechanical power can be substituted for hand labor depends upon the ability of man to contrive machinery. Here is the material key to man’s spiritual progress. The plowing of a furrow, the sowing of the seed, the reaping of the grain, its transportation from one market to another, the weaving of a fabric, and the making of a coat, all represent in the final analysis the application of so much power to matter. The past achievements of inventors have shown us that there are no limits to the ways in which the exhaustless forces of nature can be applied to do man’s work. If we look back, we see man struggling to maintain life by sheer strength of muscle; but if we look forward along the centuries of the future, we see the struggle for existence taking only a small portion of man’s energy, leaving all the remainder of his powers of heart and brain free for the enlargement and enriching of life.

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Chicago: "Efficiency of Modern Industrial Methods (From C. A. Beard’s the Industrial Revolution)," Readings in Modern European History, Vol. 2 in Readings in Modern European History: A Collection of Extracts from the Sources Chosen With the Purpose of Illustrating Some of the Chief Phases of the Development of Europe During the Last Two Hundred Years, ed. James Harvey Robinson (1863-1936) and Charles A. Beard (Boston: Ginn and Company, 1908), 71–72. Original Sources, accessed July 3, 2022, http://originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=I3B7AJ26HPZ1K4A.

MLA: . "Efficiency of Modern Industrial Methods (From C. A. Beard’s the Industrial Revolution)." Readings in Modern European History, Vol. 2, in Readings in Modern European History: A Collection of Extracts from the Sources Chosen With the Purpose of Illustrating Some of the Chief Phases of the Development of Europe During the Last Two Hundred Years, edited by James Harvey Robinson (1863-1936) and Charles A. Beard, Vol. 2, Boston, Ginn and Company, 1908, pp. 71–72. Original Sources. 3 Jul. 2022. http://originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=I3B7AJ26HPZ1K4A.

Harvard: , 'Efficiency of Modern Industrial Methods (From C. A. Beard’s the Industrial Revolution)' in Readings in Modern European History, Vol. 2. cited in 1908, Readings in Modern European History: A Collection of Extracts from the Sources Chosen With the Purpose of Illustrating Some of the Chief Phases of the Development of Europe During the Last Two Hundred Years, ed. , Ginn and Company, Boston, pp.71–72. Original Sources, retrieved 3 July 2022, from http://originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=I3B7AJ26HPZ1K4A.