(#107 in the series of GOF’s concise history tutorials.)
This Tutorial is for advanced students of English history and concentrates on lesser known precursers to the Industrial Revolution, as well as events occurring during the period 1760-1860.
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The Industrial Revolution is arguably England’s greatest gift to humanity if one disregards Fergie The Duchess of York.
England was for one hundred years truly the “workshop of the world”.
Before it got really serious about progress, England did a lot of messing about by habitually engaging in verbal abuse-slinging and nautical combat with anyone across the Channel who spoke English with a foreign accent.
Prior to the Revolution, England’s economy was based on;
2. International trade through it’s East India Company.
3. Currency exchange with the Spanish.
Spain had established numerous depots along the Pacific coast of South America, with Headquarters at Valparaiso.
The native Indians had invited the Spanish to their countries by sending urgent morse-coded smoke signals across the Atlantic Ocean, because they were feeling incredibly guilty about owning mountains of gold and silver, and they wanted to give a lot of it away to purge their wealthy third-world guilt.
English Merchant Banker, Sir Francis Drake operated a mobile banking ship called The Golden Hind. Twice a year he would depart Plymouth harbour and set sail for these Spanish settlements to negotiate a bullion exchange rate.
Agreement was normally reached withing ten rather noisy minutes of him either anchoring in the harbour, or occasionally intercepting a Spanish galleon overloaded with gilded treasure on the high seas.
The exchange rate in 1578 averaged one ton of Spanish gold for each two tons of English cannonballs, with the latter being delivered in advance by fusillade.
In 1579, however, the rate blew out to three tons of cannonballs, which sent the FTSE 100 into rapid decline, closely followed by the Dow Jones, which threatened to send the entire world economy on a journey of discovery back up into the darkness of it’s own fiscal quoit.
English ingenuity and enthusiasm powered the Industrial Revolution, which was largely based upon cotton spinning and weaving.
Spinning was traditionally women’s work.
Weaving was done by men.
This division of labour had nothing to do with the fact that spinning was more tedious and took five times longer than the weaving.
It is just the natural order of things that the men should sit under a shady tree for 4 hours out of five despairingly wondering why women took so long to do anything.
One day in 1764 James Hargreaves was “despairingly wondering” and absentmindedly inserting a fresh wad of Cuban tobacco into his pipe when he heard an almighty crash inside the house.
Daughter Jenny, kinda big for her size, being all of one and a half pick-handles across the beam, had accidentally sent her spinning wheel flying arse over turkey in a mad rush to get up out of her chair and accompany her bladder to the rest room in time.
James, surveying the carnage, had an unusual moment of inventive inspiration and wheezily ran out to his workshop with spit dribbling out of the pipe onto his whiskery chin, before setting to work building a vastly more efficient multi-spindled spinning wheel which the world still knows at the “Spinning Jenny”.
Americans missed the early Revolution bus.
They were distracted by a couple of domestic issues.
The full time hooter had not yet sounded in the Rumble of the Century between the North and the South.
Also, instead of applying the new-fangled steam power to factory use like the English had done, some thrill-seeker instead mounted the engines on wheels and proceeded to aimlessly cavort hither and thither Amtrakking around the countryside on roads of steel.
Additionally, Americans at this time were still very busy redecorating the house, by sprucing up the interior and Western sector with a fresh shade of people.
This project so impressed Australians that they went on to rapidly adopt the same colour scheme for their entire continent.
The Industrial Revolution would of course have begun in Australia had Captain Cook not wasted so much time farnarkling around the Pacific Ocean in the seventeen hundreds looking for us.
While we were waiting for him to arrive, we were busy inventing and manufacturing curved sticks that come back to you every time you try to throw them away, and genetically engineering chooks into emus to satisfy the growing domestic market for banquet-sized drumsticks.
In order to take advantage of this Aussie gift of innovative brilliance, England exported boatloads of it’s finest industrial and designer minds to the brand new colony of New South Wales in what became known as “The First Fleet”.
In the twenty-first century, Australian inventive ingenuity continues to illuminate the worlds technological achievements like an otoscope lighting up an ear canal full of wigs and wax, except that our excessive Government charges and administrative red tape now means that all our good ideas are sold off cheaply to China for development, manufacture and profit-taking.
Thank you for your attendance at this Tutorial.
GOF will now be available to answer any questions on the subject.
He will also be on high alert for any suspicious looking postal items arriving from England or Spain or South America or the USA or from women, or the British Royal Family or the Golden Hind Historical Society.
The entire semester of academic learning may be accessed via the “history tutorials” tab at the top of the page.