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State of Manchester Circa 1800 Essay

A city of prowess should be as hygienic as it is regal. Manchester circa 1800 was indeed a city of great proportion, although its cleanliness was in no question due to the lack thereof. A result of industrialization, Manchester’s quality of living deteriorated. Industrial expansion took priority over the inhabitants. To their detriment, modest changes had been made to aid in the effort to further the progress of a better Manchester for all. The Industrial Revolution impaired the health of the people, expanded while harming the working force, and polluted the condition of the city.

Maintaining Manchester was no easy feat. Most didn’t bother or care about the upkeep. “People live longer because they are better fed, better lodged, better clothed, and better attended in sickness and these improvements are owing to the increase in national wealth which the manufacturing system has produced.” (Doc 3) Historian and Member of Parliament, Thomas Macaulay, states in his point of view and I believe that as a historian he is a reliable source of information. However his ties to the Parliament cause me to sally between believing and not believing. Manchester also ran rampant with disease and grime that doesn’t seem to be treated.

“The annual loss of life from filth and bad ventilation is greater than the loss from death of wounds in modern wars.”(doc 6) Writes Edwin Chadwick, a public health reformer whose firsthand point of view seems rather frank and sordid. “Unless you have visited the manufacturing towns and seen the workers of Manchester you cannot appreciate the physical suffering and moral degradation of this class of the population”(doc 7) Women’s rights advocate, Flora Tristan writes in an earnest fashion.

The environment Manchester workers long endured had been an egregious lack of concern for the laborers by the factory owners“If you visit a factory, it is easy to see that the comfort and welfare of the workers have never entered the builders head”(doc 7) says a French socialist and women’s rights advocate, Flora Tristan after her visit the manufacturing workers town. In a British Medical Journa (doc 8)l written by a medical reformer, Thomas Wakley, it is reported that the average age of death for a laborer is 17 in Manchester. Although it is unknown how this information had been compiled, I am compelled to believe a source from a published medical journal. “Perhaps no part of England, not even London, presents such a remarkable and attractive features as Manchester, the Workshop of the World.”(doc 9) A Wheelan and Co., preface to a business directory. A source that I am not willing to believe seeing as how it comes from a businessman’s point of view, whose objective is only to further the business in Manchester.

The state of Manchester’s sanitation was a dire one. The Lancet, a British medical journal (doc8), reported that Manchester had the lowest average age of death in most of its professions. Gentry, farmers, laborers all had the lowest average age of death. It’s difficult to distrust a medical journal edited by a medical reformer. “From this filthy sewer pure gold flows”(doc 5) French visitor Alexis de Tocqueville writes during his travels. It is a simple statement that speaks volumes. Not much is known about Tocqueville yet there is no apparent reason to disregard the statement.

Industrialization came to Manchester at a cost to the laboring class as well as to the health of its people. During the Industrial revolution it became a hub of factories and an uncouth environment. It also held a flagrantly deprived wellbeing. In conclusion, Manchester was a great city of industry and poor health.


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