Home / Industrial Revolution and Nationalism 1702 – 1906

Industrial Revolution and Nationalism 1702 – 1906


1702 Newcomen invents the first practical steam engine, used to pump out mines.

1733 Kay’s fly shuttle is the first major improvement in weaving.

1769 Watt perfects his steam engine, which finds wide use in manufacturing.

1784 Cartwright invents a power loom which revolutionizes the production of textiles and helps the growth of the factory system.

1789 The United States adopts a constitution which gives greater power to the federal government was during the industrial revolution.

1793 Whitney’s cotton gin makes the raising of cotton profitable and the use of slaves spreads in the South.

1794 Federal troops put down the “Whiskey Rebellion” in Pennsylvania.

1798 The Federalists try to put down the Democrats and pass the Alien and Sedition Acts was an industrial revolution.

1801 The Federalists are defeated when Jefferson becomes President and repeals the Sedition Acts.

1806-1822 Revolts gain independence from Spain for most South American countries.

1807 Fulton develops the first practical steamboat, a big event in the industrial revolution

1814 Stephenson invents the first practical steam locomotive.

1823 The Monroe Doctrine warns Europe against intervening in the Latin American countries during the industrial revolution.

1825 The Decembrist revolt by young Russian army officers is easily suppressed by the tsar.

1829 Jackson becomes U.S. President and extends democracy.

1830 A revolution in France overthrows Charles and brings Louis Philippe to the throne.

1831 Mazzini founds Young Italy, a revolutionary society.

1832 The Reform Act in England ends many abuses in the system of elections.

1833 England outlaws slavery in its colonies.

1847 The Ten Hour Act in England limits the hours of work for women and children.

1848 Louis Philippe flees when revolution breaks out in Paris; revolts in Austria, Germany and Italy are put down; Louis Napoleon becomes president of France.


1850 The Compromise of 1850 in the US. fails to do away with slavery as an issue between the North and the South.

1851 Louis Napoleon overturns the French Republic and names himself emperor.

1854 The Kansas-Nebraska act marks the break between North and South.

1857 The Dred Scott decision encourages the slaveowners.

1859 John Brown seizes an armory at Harpers Ferry and calls for a slave uprising; his hanging for treason enrages many in the North.

1860 Lincoln is elected President; South Carolina secedes from the Union, followed by the other Southern states.

1861 Formation of the kingdom of Italy; Alexander ends serfdom in Russia; the South fires on Fort Sumter, starting the Civil War; a Union defeat at Bull Run ends hopes for a quick victory.

1862 France invades Mexico and puts it under a puppet emperor.

1863 The tide turns when the South is defeated at Gettysburg and Vicksburg.

1864 Sherman begins his march from Atlanta to the sea.

1865 General Lee’s surrender at Appomattox ends the Civil War.

1866 Prussia easily defeats Austria, paving the way for German unification.

1867 Bismarck forms the North German Confederation, led by Prussia; the Austrian Empire becomes Austria-Hungary; England passes the British North America act, granting Canada dominion status.

1870 Prussia defeats France; Napoleon III abdicates and flees.

1871 The German Empire is formed with William of Prussia as emperor; Parisians revolt and form the Commune but are suppressed; the Third French Republic is formed.

1881 Revolutionaries assassinate Tsar Alexander of Russia.

1884 The Reform act in Great Britain extends the right to vote to all adult males.

1894 Dreyfus, a Jewish officer in the French army, is falsely accused and convicted of selling secrets.

1906 After widespread agitation, Dreyfus is freed.

Rivalries in the Middle East 1856 – 1912


THE MIDDLE EAST where Europe, Asia and Africa meet had long been known as one of the great crossroads of the world. Most of its people were Moslems, but among them were many Christians and Jews. They spoke languages as different as Arabic and Latin, Slavic and Turkish. They had little in common except that they were all subjects of the Ottoman sultan in Constantinople. The Ottoman Empire — so called after its early founder, Othman — was the last of several empires to rule over a large part of Islam. Unlike the earlier empires, it was dominated not by Arabs, but by Turks. Centuries before, the Turks had fought their way west from Central Asia and founded a new homeland in the West Asian peninsula of Turkey. From there, they had pushed outward, conquering lands and peoples. In 1699, however, they had lost Hungary to the Austrians. After that, while the nations of western Europe grew stronger, the Ottoman Empire became weaker. Throughout the eighteenth, nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the Ottoman sultans had to combat enemies both within and without their empire. Their foreign enemies were the European powers, which snatched up their outlying lands. Their enemies at home were the subject peoples, especially in the Balkan Peninsula of southeast Europe, who demanded their freedom. Unrest was chronic and the Ottoman Empire, which was usually called simply Turkey, came to be known as “the sick man of Europe.” By the 1850’s, Turkey had lost lands north of the Black Sea to Russia and Algeria‚ in North Africa, to France. Of its former Balkan holdings, Greece was independent and both Serbia and Rumania had some freedom. A native Arab dynasty ruled much of Arabia. In Egypt, a former Turkish governor had set himself up as hereditary khedive, or viceroy, …

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Europe Divided 1825 -1881


IN EUROPE and North America, nationalism generally led to the creation of larger states and the centralization of power. In the Austrian Empire, however, nationalism had the opposite effect; it led to the break-up of the empire and the creation of a large number of small states. The reason was that the Austrian Empire was made up of people of different nationalities, each with its own language and customs. Although the German-speaking Austrians were only about one-fifth of the total population, the ruling family, the Hapsburgs, was Austrian and Austrians held most of the important government positions. The German-speaking people lived mainly in Austria and parts of Bohemia. The Czechs lived in Bohemia and Moravia. The majority of the people in Hungary were Magyars. The empire also included many Italians, Rumanians and Slavs. The Slavs, all of whom spoke Slavic languages, were in turn divided into Czechs, Slovaks, Poles and Yugoslavs. The revolutions that took place in the empire in 1848 failed as the different national groups quarreled among themselves. When Vienna was retaken from the rebels, the old leaders — the army officers, the nobles, the wealthy landowners, the churchmen — knew they would regain their power, but Emperor Ferdinand had promised the people too much. He was forced to step down so that his son Francis Joseph could take the throne and Francis Joseph would not be bound by the promises made by his father. The government then became more oppressive than ever. It did away with constitutions and took a firm stand against any form of liberalism or democracy. It called out soldiers to strike down any demonstrations of nationalism. Although the government did make some effort to improve business conditions, it was unpopular with the people. AUSTRIA-HUNGARY In 1867, the two leading national groups, the German …

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The Unification of Italy 1831-1870


ITALY HAD long been divided into small states. All their governments, except that of the Kingdom of Sardinia, were unpopular and continued to rule largely because they were supported by Austria. Italians had a special reason for wanting freedom and unification. They could remember that once the Roman Empire had ruled the world and that later Italy had been the home of free republics. For three hundred years Italy had been invaded and plundered again and again. The last of the invaders was Austria and before the Italians could form one nation they would have to free themselves from the Austrians. The leaders of the unification movement in Italy were all liberals — that is, they wanted a constitutional government controlled by the middle classes rather than a democracy controlled by the common people. Among them was Giuseppe Mazzini. He had been a member of a secret society, the Carbonari, which attempted to win freedom by revolution in 1820 and 1830. Each time the revolt was put down by Austrian troops. In 1831, Mazzini openly organized a society called Young Italy. Through it he was able to reach the great mass of Italians and he urged them to rise up and throw off their native and foreign kings. All kings were bad, he said; Italy should unite and establish a republic. During the Revolutions of 1848, Mazzini and the famous revolutionary fighter Giuseppe Garibaldi set up the Roman Republic in the Papal States, but French forces sent to protect the Pope overthrew the new republic. The truth was that Mazzini could stir the people with his speeches and writings, but he had no practical plan for achieving unification. CAVOUR AND NAPOLEON III Far more practical was Count Camillo Cavour, who became prime minister under Victor Emmanuel, King of Sardinia, in …

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Nationalism and the Germans 1848-1870


DESPITE THE development of democracy in some parts of the world, several of the most important nations established in the nineteenth century went in a different direction and among them was Germany. In the early part of the century, the Germans lived in a number of small states and two large ones Prussia and Austria. France was at least partly responsible for this, for it had long been her policy to keep the Germans weak and divided. Napoleon, too, had followed this policy when they came under his rule, but he had given some of them practical governments and a good system of laws called the Napoleonic Code. Many Germans had been influenced by the ideas of the French Revolution. At the same time, they were becoming more and more nationalistic; they felt that all Germans belonged together in one large, united nation. This feeling increased when they fell under the rule of the French. Only by uniting into one nation could they be strong enough to rule themselves. After the French Revolution of 1848, the German liberals broke out in open rebellion. They, too, wanted a constitutional monarchy. Joined by the radicals, who wanted a republic, they threw up barricades in the streets of Berlin, acting so swiftly that King Frederick William of Prussia was taken by surprise. When he went out on the balcony of his palace to talk to the people, they refused to listen until he had removed his hat as a sign of respect. Trying to calm them, he promised them a constitution. The revolutions of 1848 gave the liberals control of the smaller German states. As the first step toward unification, these states elected representatives to an assembly at Frankfurt. Some members of the assembly were in favour of a republic similar to that …

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Democracy in Latin America 1811-1823


DURING THE years when Napoleon and Spain were at war, Spain’s American colonies began their long fight to win independence from the mother country. Some of the earliest revolts were quickly defeated. The leaders were executed, but their deeds were remembered. In the early 1800’s, the leader of an unsuccessful revolt in Bolivia said, as he faced death: “I die; but the torch which I have lighted no one will be able to extinguish.” Francisco Miranda won fame for his unsuccessful revolt in Venezuela in 1811 and 1812. In Mexico, an old priest named Miguel Hidalgo, who wanted freedom for the Indians, led a force of 80.000 followers against the Spaniards in 1810. A great battle raged for hours. It seemed that the victory would go to Hidalgo’s forces, until a fire started in the grass near their position. Flames and smoke drove them back and in the confusion, the enemy butchered thousands of the rebels. Hidalgo’s head was cut off and placed in an iron cage as a warning against revolt. Although there were many revolutions, only Haiti, Paraguay and a province of Argentina had won independence from Spain by 1816. A year later José de San Martin of Argentina invaded Chile, using more than 9,000 mules and 1,600 horses to carry his heavy supplies over the Andes Mountains. With a small army of less than 4,000 men, he crossed high mountain passes that were 12,500 feet above sea level. Taking the Spaniards by surprise, he won a great victory at Chacabuco and freed Chile from Spanish rule. Later he invaded Peru and helped that nation, too, win its independence. Another great revolutionary leader, Simon Bolivar of Venezuela, defeated the Spaniards in Venezuela and Colombia and sent one of his armies into Ecuador and into what is now Bolivia …

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Democracy Spreads 1867-1905

DEMOCRACY IN the Scandinavian countries, Belgium, Holland and Switzerland followed the pattern of the three large democracies. Everywhere during this period there was a trend toward constitutional government, elected law-making bodies, cabinet ministers with responsibility to the people, liberty, personal rights and voting rights for all men in the lower classes. In Canada, the most difficult problem was nationalism. At the time of the Civil War in the United States, Canada consisted of a number of British provinces, most of which were independent of each other. The oldest of these was the province of Quebec in the Saint Lawrence valley. As it was originally a French colony‚ its people still spoke French, obeyed laws similar to those of France and worshipped in the Catholic Church. Although they had lived under the British flag for many years, they were afraid that the great flood of immigrants from England would destroy their way of life and felt that as Frenchmen they should form a nation of their own. At the same time, British subjects in other parts of Canada felt that all the provinces should join together in one large nation. The problem was finally solved by uniting all the provinces in one nation, but allowing each province to retain control of local affairs. The Canadians wrote a constitution for the new nation, which was approved by the British Parliament in 1867 when it passed the British North America Act. The constitution provided that the Dominion of Canada should have a parliament with a cabinet responsible to the political party in power. At that time, the Dominion consisted of four provinces — Quebec‚ Ontario, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. Manitoba became a province in 1870 and British Columbia in 1871. The Canadian Pacific Railroad was built to connect these western provinces with …

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Another Napoleon 1848-1906


IN DECEMBER of 1848, the French elected Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte as president of the Second French Republic. What he stood for was not very clear, but to most Frenchmen that did not seem important. He was the nephew of the great Napoleon and the very sound of his name stirred them like a battle-cry. Since the defeat of the first Napoleon in 1815, there had been little in French politics to capture the imagination. As the years passed, the French looked back on the Napoleonic era as the time of their greatest glory. The writer Victor Hugo wrote poems about Napoleon. The Arch of Triumph, built in Paris in honour of Napoleon’s many victories, was completed in 1836. In 1840, Napoleon’s body was brought from his prison island, Saint Helena and buried in Paris on a bank of the Seine River. Pictures of Napoleon, usually showing him visiting the wounded or lying on his deathbed, could be found in the cottages of most peasants. Although it was not so, the peasants liked to think that it was Napoleon who had given them free ownership of their land. Louis-Napoleon knew the magic of his name and intended to make the most of it. No one ever saw him angry or excited. He was not much to look at, but he had a strange sort of charm. An Englishman who had just met him for the first time wrote, “When Prince Louis-Napoleon held out his hand and I looked into his face, I felt almost tempted to put him down as an Opium eater. Ten minutes afterwards I felt convinced . . . that he himself was the drug and that everyone with whom he came in contact was bound to yield to its influence.” The new president traveled about France, meeting the …

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The Revolution of 1848; 1830-1848


LOUIS PHILIPPE always spoke of himself humbly as the “citizen king.” Although he was dignified, friendly and tried to do things that would make him popular, his government could not satisfy the needs of the people. The reason was that only one out of every thirty Frenchmen had the right to vote. The Chamber of Deputies represented only the nobles and the rich upper crust of the middle class and often it did not even debate questions that were of importance to the great majority of the people. Many Frenchmen did not like the new king. The republicans were opposed to having any king at all. The “liberals” — people of the middle class who favoured a constitutional monarchy thought his government was too conservative and did not allow enough freedom. As the years passed, more and more Frenchmen, including the workers in the cities, turned against him because he refused to support their demand for the right to vote. The liberals were forbidden to hold meetings at which they could present their demands. To get around this, they decided to follow the British system of holding political banquets. At the first of these, held in Paris in the summer of 1847, they demanded that the election laws be changed to include most of the middle classes. They also wanted freedom of trade and of the press. The banquet was so successful that similar gatherings were held in almost every town in the nation. Then the liberals announced that a great banquet, with a parade and demonstrations in the streets, would be held in Paris on the night of February 22, 1848. When the government refused to allow it, the angry people of Paris gathered in the streets. They milled about, not knowing what to do, for no plans had …

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Democracy in France 1815-1830

AFTER THE fall of Napoleon, Louis XVIII came to the throne of France. Although his powers were limited, by following a middle-of-the-road policy he was able to rule peacefully until his death in 1824. His brother, Charles X, then became king and soon began using his influence to undo as much of the French Revolution as possible. He was able to have laws passed which required the government to pay large sums of money every year to the nobles whose land had been taken from them during the revolution. The Catholic Church was strengthened and once again priests began teaching in public schools. Republicans complained and newspapers took a strong stand against the king’s program. During a parade of the National Guard, which was known as the “army of the people,” there were demonstrations against the king. Charles struck back by disbanding the National Guard and by taking away freedom of the press. In March of 1850, the Chamber of Deputies voted that it had no confidence in the government and the king was forced to call new elections. So many opponents of the king were elected to the Chamber of Deputies that his program was in danger. Charles still had a weapon to use against his enemies — the power to issue royal decrees that had the force of law in cases of emergency. On July 26, 1830, he used that weapon to dismiss the recently elected Chamber before it had time to meet. Another decree took away freedom of the press. A third took away the voting rights of most middle-class voters and a fourth decree called for a new election on the basis of the changed voting rights. Had this election taken place, Charles would have won an easy victory. Instead, Paris rose up in revolt. Students …

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Democracy in Great Britain 1789-1884


BY 1789, the first year of the French Revolution, England had traveled further along the road that would one day lead to democracy than had any other country in Europe. She had a law-making body called the Parliament which was more powerful than the king. She had a two-party system which gave the voters a choice of ideas as well as a choice of candidates. Members of the conservative party, who were called Tories, were chiefly nobles, wealthy landowners and people who strongly supported the Church of England. The Whigs, as members of the liberal party were called, consisted mainly of middle-class business and professional men and the Dissenters, religious groups which had sharp differences with the Church of England. The king’s cabinet of ministers were chosen from the party with the most votes in Parliament. The cabinet was responsible to the people’s elected representatives in Parliament and therefore indirectly responsible to the voters themselves. The chief member of the cabinet was called the prime minister; he and other members of the cabinet actually took care of most government business in the name of the ruling king or queen. The English monarch had become a ruler with very limited powers. In addition, the people of England were protected by a Bill of Rights. The king could not change or suspend laws passed by Parliament. Elections were to be held frequently and the king was not to interfere with these elections in any way. Any person charged with a crime had a right to a speedy trial before a fair-minded jury. Cruel and unusual punishments were forbidden, as were extremely high Fines. Yet, England still did not have true democracy, for the right to vote was granted only to those who owned a large amount of land. Since most of the …

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