Chapter 3 A Long and Illustrious History -Part 5 Revision

The Industrial Revolution

  • –  Prior to the Enlightenment, agriculture was the primary source of employment in Britain. There were also other small “cottage” industries, in which people worked out of their homes.
  • –  Britain was the first country to develop industry on a large scale. This was accomplished due to improvements in machinery and steam power. Agriculture and manufacturing became automated, which increased production. Coal was needed to power the machinery, which boosted the mining industry.
  • –  Shipbuilding and railway manufacturing were also streamlined, leading to growth in these industries as well.
  • –  Many people moved out of the countryside to work in manufacturing and mining. Working conditions were poor and often dangerous. Children worked alongside adults.
  • –  Canals were built to transfer the newly manufactured goods throughout the country.
  • –  This was also a time of increased colonization and trade:
  • Captain James Cook mapped the coast of Australia and colonies were settled there.
  • Colonies were established in Canada and South Africa.
  • The East India Trading Company, a British trading business, took control of parts of India.
  • Britain imported sugar and tobacco from the Americas and tea, textiles and spices from India.
  • This increased trade activity often lead to conflict between Britain and other countries, especially France.
 The Slave Trade
  • –  Although slavery was illegal in Britain itself, it flourished in the British and American colonies.
  • –  Slaves were transported from West Africa under terrible conditions and sold in the colonies to work on the sugar and tobacco plantations.
  • –  Working conditions for the slaves were horrible and many tried to escape or revolt.
  • –  There were groups in Britain that opposed the slave trade including:
    • The Quakers, who formed the first formal anti-slavery groups in the late 1700’s. o William Wilberforce, a member of Parliament, who was instrumental in changing the law.
      • By 1807 it was illegal to trade slaves from British ships or in British ports.
      • In 1833 the Emancipation Act prohibited slavery throughout the British Empire.
  • – After 1833 2 million Chinese and Indian workers were hired to do the work formerly done by the slaves. This included work in the Caribbean, Kenya, South Africa, and East Africa. American War of Independence

American War of Independence

  • By 1760 there were many colonies in North America. Most were wealthy and fairly independent.
  • Parliament tried to institute new taxes, which the colonies saw as restrictive. The colonists were not represented in Parliament so they saw these new taxes as “taxation without representation”.
  • Fighting broke out between the British forces and the colonists. In 1776 13 colonies declared independence.
  • Britain recognized this independence in 1783.

War with France

  • In 1789 there was a revolution in France and the new French government declared war on Britain. When Napoleon gained control of France he continued this war.
  • The naval Battle of Trafalgar was a key point in the war. The British navy defeated the combined French and Spanish fleets. Admiral Nelson, who lead the British fleet was killed in the battle.
  • The British army also fought against the French army. The Duke of Wellington defeated Napoleon at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815 to end the French Wars.

The Union Jack and the Flags of the UK

  • –  The British flag is nicknamed “The Union Jack”.
  • –  It is a combination of three flags:
  • The cross of St. George, the patron saint of England. This flag is a red cross on a white background.
  • The cross of St. Andrew, the patron saint of Scotland. This flag is a white cross, set on a diagonal on a blue background.
  • The cross of St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland, which is a diagonal red cross on a white background.

The British Empire and the Victorian Age

  • –  Queen Victoria took the throne in 1837 at the age of 18. She reigned for 64 years, which is the longest for any British monarch.
  • –  During this time the middle class became more influential, and conditions improved for the poor. Britain also gained power abroad.
  • –  Britain gained control of all of India, Australia, and large parts of Africa. The former Commonwealth had become an Empire.
  • –  The British Empire became the largest in the world, with a population of 400 million people.
  • –  People were encouraged to leave the UK to populate the colonies. From 1853 – 1913, 13

    million people left Britain.

  • –  Millions of people also immigrated to Britain from other countries. From 1870 – 1914, 120,000 Russian and Polish Jews came to Britain to avoid persecution. British colonists from overseas also returned to the UK.

Trade and Industry

  • –  Britain continued to be heavily involved in international trade. The government promoted free trade policies. For example, some taxes were abolished on imported goods. This lowered the price of imported raw materials that were used to create finished British goods.
  • –  Working conditions in factories continued to improve. In 1847 a law was passed that limited the working hours of women and children to 10 hours per day.
  • –  Just before Queen Victoria took the throne, there was a major breakthrough in rail transportation, when the rail engine was pioneered by George and Robert Stephenson. This allowed for a great deal of rail expansion during the Victorian era.
  • –  There were also a great many advancements in other areas. Examples included the bridges built by British engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel. Many of his bridges are still in use today.
  • –  In the 19th century British industry provided more than half of the world’s iron, coal, and cotton cloth. Britain also became a center for the financial industry.
  • –  The “Great Exhibition” opened in Hyde Park in 1851. Nations from around the world showcased their exports, but the greatest amount of items were from Britain.

The Crimean War

  • –  From 1853 – 1856, the British allied with the Turks and French against the Russians. This was the first war to gather extensive media coverage. Conditions for soldiers were very poor and many died from infections contracted in hospitals.
  • –  Queen Victoria established the Victoria Cross during this time, to honor acts of valor by soldiers.

Ireland in the 19th Century

  • –  Ireland was not as prosperous as the rest of the UK.
  • –  Two-thirds of the population were farmers, often working small plots of land. The potato

    was a staple of the Irish diet.

  • –  In the mid 19th century the potato crop failed, and there was a famine in Ireland.
  • –  1 million people died from disease or starvation, and 1.5 million immigrated to other

    countries, mostly the US and England.

  • –  An Irish nationalist movement grew rapidly through the 19th century. There were two main

    schools of thought:

    • One group, the Fenians, advocated for complete independence.
    • A second group, including Charles Stuart Parnell, pushed for Ireland to remain a part of the UK but retain its own parliament. This was called “Home Rule”.

The Right to Vote


  • –  At the beginning of the 19th century, voting was restricted to those men who owned substantial amounts of land.
  • –  The Reform Act of 1832 greatly increased the number of people who could vote.
    • More Parliamentary seats were given to representatives from towns and cities. o The “pocket boroughs” and “rotten boroughs” first seen in the late 17th century, were abolished.
  • – The Reform Act of 1867
    • Ownership of property was still a requirement but the amount of land needed was decreased. This still meant that many people were unable to vote because they did not own land.
    • No women could vote.
  • –  Members of Parliament began to realize that they had to court voters in order to insure sure that they received enough votes to win elections. The first organizations dedicated to reaching out to voters were created during this time.
  • –  Universal suffrage for all men (regardless of land status) and women did not come until the next century.

The Future of the Empire

– In the late 19th century, a discussion was beginning regarding the future of the British Empire.

  • Supporters of continued expansion felt that continued trade and commerce benefited Britain.
  • Others felt that Britain was already too large and that the funds used to maintain control in outlying areas could be better used elsewhere.
  • –  The Boer War, which ran from 1899 – 1902, highlighted this discussion. The British fought against the Boers, settlers from the Netherlands, in South Africa. Many died from fighting and disease.
  • –  By the second half of the 20th century, many of the countries controlled by the British Empire were becoming independent. Britain was transitioning from an Empire back to a Commonwealth.