The Industrial Revolution, 1760-1830

By T. S. Ashton | Go to book overview

4
Capital and Labour

I

THE industrial revolution was an affair of economics as well as of technology: it consisted of changes in the volume and distribution of resources, no less than in the methods by which these resources were directed to specific ends. The two movements were, indeed, closely connected. Without the inventions industry might have continued its slow-footed progress--firms becoming larger, trade more widespread, division of labour more minute, and transport and finance more specialized and efficient--but there would have been no industrial revolution. On the other hand, without the new resources the inventions could hardly have been made, and could never have been applied on any but a limited scale. It was the growth of savings, and of a readiness to put these at the disposal of industry, that made it possible for Britain to reap the harvest of her ingenuity.

There has been much discussion as to the origin of the capital that went into the expanding industries. Some say that it came from the land; others that it arose out of overseas trade; and yet others claim to have charted a current flowing from the secondary to the primary industries within the country. But for each piece of evidence it is possible to present counter- evidence. Many owners or occupiers of land, like Robert Peel, took to manufacture; but many successful manufacturers, like Arkwright, bought estates and finished as improving landlords. Many merchants, such as Anthony Bacon, reinvested their profits in mines or manufacture, but many industrialists, such as

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The Industrial Revolution, 1760-1830
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Preface (1997 Edition) v
  • Contents xv
  • 1 - Introduction 1
  • 2 - The Earlier Forms of Industry 18
  • 3 - The Technical Innovations 48
  • 4 - Capital and Labour 76
  • 5 - Individualism and Laisser-Faire 102
  • 6 - The Course of Economic Change 114
  • Bibliography (revised, 1996) 130
  • Index 137
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