The Most Important Origin of The Industrial Revolution

Remember last year when we always stressed on the importance of geography in shaping a civilization.  It is no different in regards to the Industrial Revolution.  I believe the geography of Britain is what ultimately led to the success of the Industrial Revolution because their were many natural resources available, a great agriculture, and lastly Britain is very close to bodies of water.  Firstly, the good agriculture led to farmers having excess money to spend on items other than food.  Therefore, more manufactured goods were being bought.  In addition, the abundance of farmers led to landless farmers looking for jobs in cities.  These hired agricultural laborers were relatively mobile compared to village bound peasants and formed a labor force for entrepreneurs.  Secondly, the geography of Britain helped in cheaper shipment of goods because of the accessible navigable water.  In addition Britain was surrounded by water which gave it easy shipment of raw materials, as well as trade with surrounding countries.  Lastly, Britain had many areas of exposed coalfields which led to industrial areas being formed.

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One Response to The Most Important Origin of The Industrial Revolution

  1. Dr. K says:

    Very interesting comment. I’m going to play devil’s advocate here, push back, and argue that geography wasn’t that important, that institutions and culture were. You mention agriculture, but lots of country had good land (China has plenty of arable land, and some of the best arable land in the world is in the Ukraine). It was farmers’ adoption of new agricultural techniques, encouraged by the Enlightenment spirit of questioning and seeking progress, that made farming so productive. And while it’s true that Britain had access to water, so did France, and China, and Portugal, to name just a few. It was British government policy that made trade (and empire) so profitable, and it was government policy that encouraged the building of canals which amplified the access to water. It’s true there were landless workers, but that was the result of a deliberate policy called enclosure adopted by the British government (it was mentioned in the textbook, but not in the section we read, I think).

    And the coal? Well, there they might just have gotten lucky.

    But anyway, that’s all to suggest that maybe it was the British government and its policies which were key in promoting industrialization. The same resources with a different government might not have led to industrialization?

    What do you think? Feel free to argue back. I’m partly just being provocative here.

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