• The Industrial Revolution

    Imagine a world in which almost all your food, clothing, toys, tools, and furniture were grown or made by your own family or a nearby craftsman. Most of your day would be spent working. Because handmade goods were costly and took so much time to make, you’d have only a few clothes and toys.


    This was the reality of life for all but the wealthiest for hundreds of years before the Industrial Revolution. From the late 1700s to the mid-1800s, new inventions made it possible for clothing, furniture, and other items to be made quickly and cheaply in factories. Steam engines, along with railways, canals, and better roads, simplified shipping these products. Life was easier in many ways, but these conveniences came with a price.

    Fun Facts

    • In England, inventors developed machines to spin and weave thread. These inventions soon came to America, changing life forever. People moved from farms to big cities to work in factories. Women and children were usually hired because they were paid less than male workers. The factory workers worked long hours in dangerous and unhealthy conditions. Still, they thought the factories might give them a better way of life.
    • Previously, families spent most of their time together. Children were generally schooled at home or in simple one-room school houses. The Industrial Revolution sent families and children out of their homes for long hours every day.
    • Farmers discovered better ways to grow crops and raise animals. They learned how to take care of the soil by growing clover during the winter or fertilizing with manure. They discovered better ways to manage insects or irrigate the soil. They also had better tools for plowing and cultivating fields. These advancements allowed farmers to grow and raise more food, at lower prices. The food was better quality too.
    • Eli Whitney invented the cotton gin in 1792. Previously cotton wasn’t a profitable crop because removing the seeds from the cotton took so long. The cotton gin sped up the work by 50 times. Farmers in the south began planting more and more cotton. They sent it to mills in the North.
    • Miners found more efficient ways of working.
    • The telegraph was invented, making it possible to communicate quickly with someone far away.


    1. Canal: man-made waterway
    2. Cultivate: to work the soil for planting and raising seedlings

    Questions and Answers

    Question: Who benefitted most from the Industrial Revolution?

    Answer: For the middle and upper classes, the Industrial Revolution meant access to products that made life more comfortable. The middle and upper classes also benefitted financially from their business profits.

    Poor factory workers, especially children, suffered during the Industrial Revolution. These children suffered from injuries and disease caused by poor factory conditions. Working long hours, they rarely learned to read and write, making their chances for improving their lives slim.

    Slaves also suffered because of the Industrial Revolution. The invention of the cotton gin made cotton growing much more profitable for plantation owners, but they needed more slaves to do the work. Slave trading and owning increased.

    Learn More

    Head to Scholastic to learn more about the Industrial Revolution.


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