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The changes in britains empire from 1750 to 1900 Essay

And were they all for the better?There were many changes during 1750 to 1900, the majority of which were industrial and economic and not always for the better of then or the better of now.

In this essay I will list two changes that I thought significant then I will list the negative short term effects, the negative long term effects, the positive short term effects and the positive long term effects. At the end of each change I will decide whether it was an overall positive or negative change.

My first change will be the development of factories as it led to nearly every other significant change from 1750 to 1900, and the cause of this particular change was one Richard Arkwright who is thought to have started the first proper factory; the Cromford mill in 1771 (ref 1)As previous factories had only been gatherings of workers (this had largely been for the textiles industry), and Arkwright’s factory was built specifically for housing machinery, as the spinning frame was too large and fast for human hands, Arkwright did first of all try having it powered by horses but then he thought about using water and so invented the water frame, and with it the first factory.

Now even though Arkwright upheld a few rules of decency, his successors did not. The future factory owners exploited workers shamelessly while Arkwright would give housing for all the family, a week’s holiday a year and would not allow any one under 6 to work in his factories.

This is one of the short term negative impacts of the development of factories as it led to the exploitation of workers. Another short term negative effect is that coal was needed to power the new machines which first led to worse conditions in the mines and second added largely to global warming, which is also a long term negative consequence.

Another long term negative outcome is that it gave some of the workers long term genetic diseases that have been passed from then to now and still affect some people with respiratory diseases.

A long term positive result though is that it brought industry to maximum progress and allowed us to live in the leisure we do to day and another long term advantage is that they brought families in from the native country to live together and that developed the growth of various host cities. This is a negative short term effect as the living conditions of the migrants were appalling, but that wasn’t directly because of the migrants, if the cities had made better arrangements for their migrant workers, the living conditions would have been much better, so that might not count as a short term negative.

One of the positive short term effects is also the migration of people to cities as it established social relationships and made the country stronger and another positive short term effect were the skills of trade people learned in the various factories.

In conclusion, from my point of view, this change was for the better, but this is my opinion and it could well be different if I was one of the factory workers who probably would have thought this was the way people were going to live for the rest of time. So this change was better for us as of now but not better for them as of then. Overall it was a good change.

My second topic is on the colonisation of various countries by Britain. The first proper British colony was Ireland in the Norman period (ref 2) but that goes before 1750 so I’ll focus on the 18th century colonies of Britain.

The 18th century for Britain was full of change; as America had just officially declared their independence on July the second, 1776 after the American Revolution (1763-1776), and so the British Empire turned its attention to the East, India, China and later Africa. It also helped that in India the Mughal power was declining, as Britain was no match in that region against the previously mighty Mughal Empire (ref 3) The empire had granted trading rights to Britain in the 16th century.

This brought most of the East under British rule and gave Britain access to¬†India’s spices and textile industry from which it profited handsomely, until the accession of William of Orange in 1689 bringing peace between the Netherlands and England.

A deal between the two nations left the spice trade of the Indonesian Archipelago to the Netherlands and the textiles industry of India to England, but textiles soon overtook spices in terms of profitability, and by seventeen twenty, in terms of sales, the English company had overtaken the Dutch (ref 4).

The English East India Company shifted its focus from Surat-a hub of the spice trade network-to Fort St George (later to become Madras), Bombay (ceded by the Portuguese to Charles II of England in 1661 as dowry for Catherine de Braganza) and Sutanuti (which would merge with two other villages to form Calcutta).

This was a big change for the world as it imparted Britain’s mark on more than a quarter of the world (it was said that in the peak of its power the sun was always shining on the British empire, as the spread of the British colonies was so vast that it circled the entire globe) and it left many benefits as well as manydrawbacks. Here are a few; one of the short term consequences were the amount of lives lost in obtaining colonies and more often than not, colonies were obtained by war and an obvious direct consequence of that is loss of lives, as part and parcel of a armed conflict when countries were taken over the native civilians were treated as lower species and second class citizens. Britain started throwing people out of their own homes and taking over them and giving them to British aristocrats as slaves.

This was all done because the natives were of a different skin colour and being dominated. These are two short term negative outcomes and also a long term negative affect as this was racism and it became almost fashionable to be racist at that time. A long term negative effect would be that when as aftermaths of world war two (which in itself was a result of Britain’s large empire as Germany wanted to compete with Britain to be a large empire itself and so tried to take over Europe) Britain was left virtually bankrupt, with insolvency only averted in 1946 after the¬†negotiation of a $3.5 billion loan from the United States,(ref 5), the last installment of which was repaid in 2006,(ref 6) and so had to withdraw from its various colonies and many countries fell into turmoil and without Britain to administer order the turmoil led to pillaging and many previously famous and rich countries hit rock bottom like Sierra Leone.

Also some countries for a short time suffered radical changes and deaths like the separation of India into India, Pakistan, Bhutan and Nepal (later these split up into Sri Lanka and Bangladesh) but during that change there erupted massive religious battles between Muslims, Sikhs, Hindus as the country was being split. These were two long term negatives impacts. Two long term positives outcomes would be that it established English as a common language between most of the world and brought the world together while it was breaking geographical boundaries so there was less friction between cultures for the later years of human history in 20th century.

A short term positive result would be that England brought the rest of the world up to speed with technology and armed them with powerful faster guns and showed the rest of the world the steam train and suddenly people could travel everywhere a lot faster. Over all I think that the colonisations of other countries was excellent move and the turmoil countries were left in afterward was not Britain’s fault as Germany made the first move and they had to be subdued, the war was unavoidable and for every progress there has to be a little sacrifice also the racism was one bad factor against many good ones so I think it was worth it.

In conclusion from then two changes I’ve chosen it seems the changes were for the better but for now rather than then. It seems that changes are balanced out they have sacrifices first but in the end it pays of and if I think of the other changes that I’ve not mentioned it seems to be the same case. I think this is my view because I’m reaping the benefits of what people worked hard to sow long ago, and the drawbacks that seem too much could not have been helped as they were unpredictable factors. But I might not have been so bearing if I’d have lived then myself. It’s all down to what situation you live inSo over all yes I believe that the changes were for the better.


wikipedia: factories history western world .para twoNicholas, Canny (1998). The Origins of Empire, the Oxford History of the British Empire. Oxford University Press, pg 7Anthony, Pagden (1998). The Origins of Empire, the Oxford History of the British Empire. Oxford University Press, pg 93.

Niall, Ferguson (2004). Empire. Penguin, pg 19Louis, Roger (1999). The Oxford History of the British Empire, Vol. IV, the Twentieth Century. Oxford University Press, pg 331BBC NEWS | UK | Magazine | what’s a little debt between friends?

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