When people think about the legacy of the Industrial Revolution, child labour laws and the rise of the middle class typically come to mind. The Industrial Revolution influenced change in more areas than these. From literature to civil war, the Industrial Revolution influenced history throughout the world.
It Contributed to the French Revolution
The Industrial Revolution made the city of Paris even dirtier than it already was. The tanning industry in particular caused water and air pollution that was not only disgusting, but poisonous. When the residents of Paris started to demand change from the monarchy, King Louis XVI sent out representatives to learn what made them unhappy. Besides the enormous tax burden involved, the chief complaints were of water unfit to drink and air unfit to breathe. These complaints went unaddressed, of course, which led to the revolution.
It Inspired Literature
The Industrial Revolution also changed cityscapes and society in other countries. William Blake, a poet of the era, wrote poems describing filth in London and children put to work far too young. Charles Dickens also lived and wrote during the Industrial Revolution. Much of his work was coloured by his own experiences of London life during this era. Dickens worked long hours in a London shoe polish factory when he was only 12.
It Aided the Rise of Socialism
Karl Marx's radical ideas that eventually developed into Marxism were inspired by results of the Industrial Revolution in Russia. He saw people losing fingers, hands and even limbs to the machines they worked with in the process of trying to make a living. This seemed incredibly unfair to him, especially in light of how little money they made in return. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, socialist parties adopted principles of Marxism. Lenin, the leader of the Russian Revolution, was a longtime follower of Marx. He organised the Soviet Union based on his interpretation of Marx's philosophy.
It Contributed to the American Civil War
The American Civil War tends to be viewed as a fight over slavery when, in fact, tother issues contributed to the conflict. One was a simple difference between the economies of the north and the south. The Industrial Revolution had taken hold throughout the north in the antebellum period. Farming and plantations were no longer as common as cities and factories. Industry drove the economy of the north by then, largely eliminating the need for slavery. Agriculture still drove the southern economy, including exports to Europe. There were southern cities, of course, but they tended to be smaller and less industrialised than northern ones. With farming and planting on large estates driving their economy, southerners exploited a need for slave labour that northerners did not have.