The Building Of European Supremacy: Society And Politics To World War I Study Notes

4273 words - 17 pages

Population Trends and MigrationThe proportion of Europeans in the world's total population was apparently greater around 1900-estimated at about 20 percent -than ever before or since. The number of Europeans had risen from approximately 266 million in 1850 to 401 million in 1900 and 447 million in 1910.The mid-century emancipation of peasants lessened the authority of landlords and made legal movement and migration easier. Railways, steamships, and better roads increased mobility. Cheap land and better wages accompanied economic development in Europe, North America, Latin America, and Australia, enticing people to move.Between 1846 and 1932, more than 50 million Europeans left their homelands. After 1885 migration from southern and eastern Europe rose.The Second Industrial RevolutionDuring the third quarter of the nineteenth century, the gap that had long existed between British and continental economic development closed. In particular, the growth of all areas of German industry was stunning. German steel production surpassed that of Britain in 1893 and had almost doubled Britain's by the outbreak of World War I.New IndustriesThe first Industrial Revolution was associated with textiles, steam, and iron; by contrast, the second was associated with steel, chemicals, electricity, and oil.In the 1850s, Henry Bessemer (1830-1898), an English engineer, discovered a new process, named after him, for manufacturing steel cheaply in large quantities. In 1860 Great Britain, Belgium, France, and Germany and produced 125,000 tons of steel. By 1913 the figure had risen to 32,020,000 tons.The first major public power plant was constructed in 1881 in Great Britain.The internal combustion engine was invented in 1886. When the German engineer Gottlieb Daimler (1834-1900) put it on four wheels and obtained a French patent in 1887, the automobile was born. It was the American, Henry Ford (1863-1947), who later made the automobile accessible to large numbers of people.The major oil companies were Standard Oil of the United States, British Shell Oil, and Royal Dutch Petroleum.Economic DifficultiesBoth industry and agriculture generally prospered from 1850-1873, but in the last quarter of the century economic advance was slower.Several large banks failed in 1873, and the rate of capital investment slowed. Prices and wages, as well as profits, both fell, so real wages generally held firm, and in some countries even rose. The economic difficulties fed the growth of trade unions and socialist political parties.New forms of retailing and marketing appeared-department stores, chain stores, packaging techniques, mail order catalogs, and advertising-simultaneously stimulating and feeding consumer demand.The Middle Classes in AscendancyThe sixty yrs. before World War I were the age of the middle classes. Thereafter, the middle classes became the arbiter of consumer taste.Social Distinctions Within the Middle ClassesThe middle classes, never perfectly homogeneous, grew...

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