Gary Ge - Final Essay - History-9-2

Gary Ge 9F
Revolution, Industry, and Empire and its Profound Changes
By interacting with their social, political, and situational
environment, societies of the late 19th and early 20th centuries
created social and technological changes with positive and negative
consequences. Change is the act or instance of making or becoming
different, and during this period, most of these global changes were
the consequences of industrialization, revolution, and imperialism.
Let us take Britain and Germany to establish the links between
causes, processes, and consequences and how they correspond to
the major global changes back then.
Industrialization is the process where a socioeconomic group is
transformed from a agrarian society into an industrialized one. How
or why this transformation occurs is debatable, however, one thing
is for sure - the First Industrial Revolution (beginning from the 18th
century) began with the revolutionary change in the human use of
energy, from biomass and muscle to fossil fuels and steam power
(Kreis, “The Origins of the Industrial Revolution in England.”). This
gave way to the Second Industrial Revolution (the period around
and after 1860) (Encyclopædia Britannica, “Industrial Revolution.”).
It led to the discovery and introduction of the Bessemer Process of
Mass-Producing Steel (1847-56). Albeit contributions were made
from many other people before it could be used on a commercial
basis, it was named after Sir Henry Bessemer. According to his
book, Bessemer was interesting in spinning heavier artillery
projectiles with the use of a smoothbore barrel. However, because
artillery at the time was made of iron and could not stand the blast
of such a heavy shell, he developed the Bessemer Process which
allowed steel to be produced cheaply and quickly (Encyclopædia
Britannica, "Bessemer process.").
Germany, on the other hand, was late for the industrialization
party. Without a strong agricultural establishment, industrialization
was impossible. Because Germany had ample iron and coal
resources, which are the basic industrialization materials, it lead to
spectacular advancements made in nitrogen fertilizers, which set
the worldwide standards at the time.
Consequently, we can see that by utilizing and interacting with
their situational environment, Britain was able to transform into an
industrialized society, which lead to the invention of the Bessemer’s
Process. This enabled technological advancements in artillery, which
were beneficial to the British during military operations, as the
added weight/explosives of the projectile would cause more
damage. Germany also did the same and made significant
advancements in nitrogen fertilizers, which helped their crops to
prosper and ensured sustainability. However, fertilizers could also
escape into nearby water sources either by runoffs or drainage,
which promotes the growth of algae that is detrimental to the
water’s ecosystem (Mokyr and Strotz, “The Second Industrial
Revolution, 1870-1914.”).
On the other hand, a revolution is a violent, forced, and
therefor sudden change in the government or other social
structures for the sake of introducing a different one. Despite the
fact that every neighboring country during the 18th, 19th, and 20th
centuries experienced at least one revolution, Britain seemed
impervious and retained its government (Evans, “A British
Revolution in the 19th Century?”).
Germany (or Prussia) was affected by the Revolutions of
1848. At the time, riots sparked began across Prussia because King
Frederick William IV was unwilling to provide Prussia with a
constitution. The riots were suppressed as a Prussian Assembly was
created. It wanted a unified, liberal Germany, but all hope was lost
when Frederick William IV declined the crown. However, Otto von
Bismarck was socially competent, and understood that people want
a realpolitik (practical politics). After wars with Denmark, Austria,
and France, all for the sake of unifying Germany, Bismarck unified
and declared the German Empire in 1871 (SparkNotes Editors,
“SparkNote on Europe (1815-1848).”).
As a result, we can deduce that Otto von Bismarck, someone
who understood that the Prussian society shouldn’t be ruled by a
Monarchy, but rather a chancellor, created the German Empire,
which safeguarded the people, protected their human rights, and
their national interests. This changed German structure of society
(as there was no longer only one person and their family ruling) and
subsequently it’s people (because at the time, the economy of
German Democratic Republic, or East Germany, was so terrible that
they had to save themselves by joining West Germany. This meant
that the economical situation of the people of East Germany saw
improvement) (SparkNotes Editors, “SparkNote on Europe (18151848).”).
Imperialism is the practice of extending a country’s political
influence beyond its borders, especially through military power or
unequal political/economical pressure (Encyclopædia Britannica,
"imperialism."). The Second Opium War (1856-60) (A.K.A the Arrow
War) began when the British, using the excuse that Chinese
Officials had lowered the British Flag on a ship called Arrow, wanted
to extend their trading rights. The French also joined in. In 1857,
the Allies forced the Chinese to sign the Treaties of Tianjin, which
demanded more ports and numerous inland cities to be opened up
for direct trade. China did not approve of the treaties, which lead to
the destruction of Yuanming Garden in 1860 by the Allies
(Encyclopædia Britannica, "Opium Wars."). Because of this, the
Chinese signed the Beijing Convention, which ratified the Treaties of
Tianjin and the payment of war indemnities (Ong, “China
Condensed: 5000 years of history & culture.”).
Subsequently in 1884, following the unification of Germany,
Germany had formed two reasons of imperiling Africa. The first one
was to follow the growing desire of imperialism throughout Europe.
At the time, Germany wished to also have colonies so they could
become as dominating as England and France. Secondly, war was
expensive, but by establishing Cameroon, German South-West
Africa and New Guinea and exploiting their natural resources/labour
force, it would become a profitable endeavor (Silva, “Germany’s
These are prime examples of how Britain and Germany utilized
their political environment and created social changes in the places
they colonized. Subsequent to the Opium Wars, Chinese already
despised the British for exposing China’s weaknesses (which led to
packs of Western nations to move in for the spoils), but more
importantly, they dehumanized them with their opium. Addiction
became common and permeated all levels of society, which included
high officials and military officers. The Chinese viewed the British as
a nation of “devils” (Ong, “China Condensed: 5000 years of history
& culture.”). Germany wanted to maximize their economical
potential in Africa and New Guinea. Because of this, they had to
establish schools, which westernized the societies, but at the same
time, impeded and destroyed traditions of local tribes.
From the Industrial Revolution to the Revolutions of 1848, we
can see that throughout human society, change, whether or not it
was positive or negative, has always been inevitable. During this
timeframe, we can conclude that most of these profound global
changes in society and their environments were a result of the age
of revolution, industry, and empire.
Essay Word Count: 1053
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