The industrial society is here and now. What makes it so is the fact that humanity has banded together in many parts of the world-Europe, North America and large portions of Asia-to manufacture goods that are not just for their own consumption.
Steam powered mass production
The birth of the industrial society was in the late-18th century in England, after James Watt perfected the steam engine. By the middle of the 19th century, factories started sprouting up all of over the European Continent and the British Isles, taking advantage of this marvel by harnessing its power to mass-produce many new products while reinventing older ones.
It was the end of the cottage industries, where items were handmade by blacksmiths, carpenters and other craftsmen. New power tools were the logical extension of the availability of this new source of energy.
With the concentration of labor-hungry factories came a shortage of housing to accommodate all the new workers and their families who had moved from the countryside to the cities, abandoning the struggles of the subsistence farming way of life for assured, year-round pay in the new industries.
Urbanization brought more people, and more industries concentrated in the areas that were rapidly becoming settled, causing entire cities to grow out of what used to be small villages or towns. The proximity to water, which was essential for creating the steam power, was of great importance.
Coal became king, as it was the primary and, most of the time, only means of heating the industrial boilers, which had to be kept going 24 hours a day, rarely being shut down for maintenance or holidays.
The pace of invention, along with new iron-making techniques and growing networks of roadways and canals, raced forward, and by the turn of the 19th century, the Industrial Revolution had begun in earnest.
The mother of invention
While Europe and particularly England were beginning to grow by leaps and bounds, the United States was one of the biggest customers for products that were being manufactured there, until the War of 1812 put an end to all that when trade was embargoed by Presidents Jefferson and Madison.
The United States suddenly found itself suffering shortages in items ranging from cutlery to steam engines. The war itself was harmful to the nation, but in the long run, it brought about an industrialization that was to outpace anything happening across the Atlantic Ocean. It was a sink or swim situation for the citizens of the new republic, and they learned to swim like fish.
Soon, all the goods that were previously imported were being manufactured in the former colonies, creating bustling industries and new jobs. Cities sprouted up around industries and the new immigrants arriving from the Old World had a jobs waiting for them.
The American Dream
During the 19th century, the United States developed into a full-fledged industrial society. With the continuous improvement of machinery, a lot of wealth was created, and it was in essence the birth of the American Dream.
When the automobile and airplanes came on the scene, the Unites States was in a position to become a global leader in industrialization. The country maintained that position until, in the new millennium, heavy industry was gradually outsourced and moved to overseas locations with cheaper labor costs.
While still heavily dependent on a healthy manufacturing base, the nation is now moving in a new direction by becoming an information society, one where various forms of communication have become a major source of the GDP.