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Britain And The Industrial Revolution Essay

1688 words - 7 pages

“What was the relationship between industrialisation and the expansion of the British Empire between 1750 and 1850?”
Between 1750 and 1850 Britain had revolutionised internally as a dominant industrial figure in Europe. However, although it would be argued that most advances were constitutional, Britain’s foreign relations also enhanced to a certain extent during this period. In the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, Britain had established itself as the first country to industrialise therefore instantly granting it a dominant position in the world economy, this would continue for a further century. During this time it was also advantaged in acquiring the largest empire seen ...view middle of the document...

Moreover, it proved its status from initiating itself the first nation to rely on the power of steam which in turn emancipated the bomb shell that was the Industrial Revolution opening that window of opportunity for Britain via trade, mass-produced goods and an expanding global market. For example although England was very rich in natural resources, it was in high demand for cotton cloth. This demand could have dangerous implications for the growing economy, however new foreign links with India and the growth in cargo ships allowed for Britain to trade and develop its relations with the empire. However some historians, such as J.R.Ward acknowledge that this in the long term could have possibly harmed Britain’s economy more than achieving good by producing competition with other British textiles therefore possibly damaging the relationship between Empire and Industrial Britain[1]. Morris expressed that “As a blanket term, the Industrial Revolution explains relatively little about British expansion in general at the end of the eighteenth century”[2] moreover, British rule over India was firmly established by 1820, before the industrial revolution could have played any major role.
The industrial revolution had made the further development of the Empire possible, in a sense that Britain at this time had provided a technology gap that non-European nations would find difficult to compete with. They had the technical skill of producing muskets, rifles, machine guns, steam trains and steam ships that would provide the relatively small and outstretched British armed forces with incomparable advantages. They now had the ability to take on greater enemies with larger armed forces, beat them and suppress them. Although Britain was not the only nation to enjoy a technological advantage over non-European nations, but its combination of industrial might and naval supremacy meant that it had an advantage, one that would not be challenged until the development of the twentieth century In Nazi occupied Germany.
Eric Hobsbawm discussed the relationship of the two developments in ‘Industry and Empire’, first published in 1968. Hobsbawm began by highlighting the influence and power the Industrial revolution supplied Britain with by stating, “There was a moment in the world's history when Britain can be described, if we are not too pedantic, as its only workshop, its only massive importer and exporter, its only carrier, its only imperialist, almost its only foreign investor … Much of this monopoly was simply due to the loneliness of the pioneer … When other countries industrialized, it ended automatically.”[3] Hobsbawm suggests that Britain was the driving force behind all trade with the Empire, America and West Indies. Hobsbawm continues in pointing out that Britain was quite prepared to force poorer regions of the world to participate in this economic system even if they were not prepared for it. Hobsbawm focuses on Britain's central role in the world trading...

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