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A World at War 1939 – 1941

world war 2

Now the people of Europe began to hear a new sound, a sound that would haunt them throughout the years of war — the wail and shriek of air-raid sirens. At night, the lights of Europe went out and the “blackout” made familiar streets strange places of darkness. Street lamps were left unlit and windows were covered with heavy draperies. Any stray gleam of light might help guide enemy bombers to their targets. Hurrying about their wartime duties, the people of Britain and France began to wonder. They had not wanted war and yet war had come. Why? What had happened? It seemed mysterious and impossible to understand, but as they thought about it, certain things became clear. Some of the problems that led to World War II were left-overs from World War I. Germany and Italy had remained “have-not” nations. They needed more territory for raw materials and more markets for their goods. The Germans felt that the Versailles Treaty was humiliating, unjust and the Allies had done nothing to change it. The League of Nations, especially without the participation of the United States, had been weak and had not carried out its promise of real disarmament. The United States had not wanted to get involved in Europe’s problems and had followed a policy of “isolation.” These were some of the causes of the war; there were others as well. France had suffered greatly in World War I and was afraid of being drawn into another conflict. Her generals had hesitated to send troops against Hitler at a time when it was still possible to stop him and then there was the distrust of the Soviet Union and Communism. Many French and British statesmen, such as Chamberlain, had believed that Fascism would protect Europe against Communism. Unlike Churchill, they …

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Father of the Factory System 1769-1807

watt

IT TOOK the work of many inventors to bring about the changes of the Industrial Revolution, but the man recognized as the greatest inventor of the age was James Watt, whose name is linked with the steam engine. Actually the steam engine was invented and used in coal mines long before Watt was born. What he invented was a greatly improved type of steam engine which was practical enough to make steam power available to factories for the first time. As a result of his invention, many large power-driven factories soon sprang into being, some of them employing hundreds of workers. Such factories could produce cloth so cheaply that it was almost impossible for people to make a living by spinning and weaving by hand in their homes. All the important changes of the Industrial Revolution took place during the span of James Watt’s lifetime. In 1736, the year of his birth in Scotland, spinning and weaving was still being done at home. Peasants not only made their own clothes, but also wove cloth to sell in the market place. Almost every country cottage had its spinning wheel and weaving loom. Wooden tubs were used to wash the raw wool and to color the finished cloth with dye. On the land surrounding the cottage, each weaver usually had a garden and kept a cow or two, some poultry and a horse. It was natural that he should feel close to the land, for his people had been farmers for many centuries. During the planting seasons and the busy times of harvest, he and his family let the spinning wheels and the loom stand idle while they worked in the fields. During the growing seasons and the long winter months, they devoted full time to spinning and weaving. It took five …

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