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6.4 Global Economic Development from 1750 to 1900

7 min readjanuary 14, 2023

Eric Beckman

Eric Beckman

Riya Patel

Riya Patel


AP World History: Modern 🌍

577 resources
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Introduction

From 1750 to 1900, the global economy experienced significant developments and changes, driven by industrialization, trade, and technological advancements.
In the late 18th century, the Industrial Revolution began in Britain, which led to the development of new technologies and the growth of manufacturing industries. This spread to other countries, particularly in Europe and North America, leading to an increase in production and trade. The growth of industry led to an increase in the standard of living for many people and an expansion of the middle class.
The 19th century also saw the growth of global trade, particularly with the development of steamships and railroads, which made transportation faster and cheaper. This facilitated the movement of goods and people across the globe, leading to the expansion of markets and the growth of international trade.
Colonialism also played a significant role in the global economic development during this period, as European powers established colonies in Africa, Asia, and the Americas, extracting resources and imposing trade policies that benefited the colonizers at the expense of the colonized.
However, not all regions and peoples benefited equally from these developments. The economies of many countries in Africa, Asia, and Latin America were impacted negatively by colonialism and the forced export of raw materials, which led to the underdevelopment of these regions and the exploitation of their resources and people.
Overall, the period of 1750-1900 saw significant economic developments and changes that led to the growth of industry, trade, and international markets, but also led to the exploitation and underdevelopment of many regions and peoples around the world.

Export Economy

During this time period, several export economies experienced significant growth and development. One notable example is the United Kingdom, which experienced a significant increase in industrial production and exports during the Industrial Revolution. This period saw the rise of new industries such as textiles, iron and steel production, and steam power, which led to an increase in exports of manufactured goods. Other countries such as the United States, Germany, and Japan also experienced significant growth in their export economies during this time period. This was due to factors such as technological advancements, population growth, and increased trade and investment.

Technological Developments

Railroads

Railroads were a major technological development that greatly improved transportation and facilitated the movement of goods across long distances. They allowed for faster and more efficient transportation of raw materials to factories and finished goods to ports for export. The building of transcontinental railroads in countries such as the United States and Canada also helped to open up new markets and territories for trade and investment.

Telegraph

The telegraph was another important technological development that facilitated communication and trade. It allowed for instant communication over long distances, making it possible to coordinate trade and investment more efficiently. The expansion of telegraph networks across the world greatly improved the flow of information and facilitated the growth of export economies.

Cecil Rhodes

The businessman Cecil Rhodes also played a major role in the growth of export economies, particularly in southern Africa, through the establishment of the British South Africa Company and the building of railroads and telegraph lines. This greatly expanded trade and investment opportunities in the region, and helped to open up new markets for export economies.

Steamships

Steamships also played a significant role in the growth of export economies by increasing the speed and efficiency of international trade. They made it possible to transport goods across the oceans faster and more cheaply than ever before, which greatly expanded the reach of international trade.

Agricultural Developments

Mechanization

The mechanization of agriculture through the use of new tools and machinery, such as threshing machines, reaping machines, and plows, greatly increased productivity and efficiency on farms. This led to increased output and exports of agricultural goods, such as grains and livestock.

Crop Varieties

Another important development was the introduction of new crop varieties, such as the "Green Revolution" crops, which greatly increased yields. This led to increased food production and exports, particularly in developing countries.

Enclosure Movement

The enclosure movement, which involved the consolidation of small, fragmented plots of land into larger, more efficient farms, also contributed to the growth of export economies. This allowed for the more efficient use of resources and the expansion of commercial agriculture, which led to increased exports of agricultural goods.

Infrastructure

In addition, the improvement of transportation infrastructure, such as the building of railroads and steamships, greatly facilitated the transport of agricultural goods to markets, both domestic and foreign. This increased the reach of exports and opened up new opportunities for trade.
Overall, these agricultural developments greatly increased productivity and output, facilitated the transport of goods and opened up new markets for export, contributing to the growth of export economies during this time period.

Raw Materials (Exports)

Cotton

Cotton was one of the most important raw materials for export during this time period. The mechanization of cotton production, through the invention of the power loom and the spinning jenny, led to a rapid increase in the production of cotton textiles. This increased the demand for raw cotton, which was grown primarily in the United States and India, and was exported to other countries for use in their textile industries.

Rubber

Rubber was another important raw material for export. The demand for rubber increased with the invention of the pneumatic tire and the expansion of transportation infrastructure, such as railroads and steamships. Rubber was mainly produced in South America, Africa, and Southeast Asia, and exported to other countries for use in manufacturing.

Palm Oil

Palm oil was also a significant raw material for export. It was used in the production of soaps, candles, and lubricants and was mainly produced in West Africa and Southeast Asia.

Copper and Tin

Copper was in high demand for use in the manufacturing of various goods such as wire, pipes, and electrical equipment. Copper mines were operated in many countries such as Chile, U.S, Canada and Spain, and the copper ore was exported to other countries for use in their manufacturing industries. Tin was also an important raw material for export, particularly for the production of tinplate, which was used to make cans, and other tin products. Tin mines were mainly operated in countries like Malaya, Bolivia, and Indonesia, and the tin ore was exported to other countries for use in their manufacturing industries. The extraction of copper and tin also led to environmental degradation and the displacement of local communities and the exploitation of their labor. The commercial extraction of these raw materials was also a driving force behind the colonization of many regions around the world.

Ivory, Minerals, and Diamonds

Ivory was highly valued for its use in the production of decorative items, such as ivory carvings and sculptures. It was mainly obtained from elephants in Africa and Asia, and was exported to other countries for use in their manufacturing industries. The commercial extraction of ivory led to the hunting of elephants to the brink of extinction.
Minerals such as gold and diamonds were also significant raw materials for export. Gold was highly valued for its use in jewelry, coinage and other decorative items. Diamonds were mainly used for the same purpose, but also for industrial use. These minerals were mainly extracted in Africa, mainly in the colonies of European powers. The mining of these minerals led to the displacement of local communities and the exploitation of their labor.
The commercial extraction of these raw materials also led to the colonization of many regions around the world as European powers sought to exploit the resources of their colonies to fuel their industries and support their economies. This led to the loss of sovereignty and cultural heritage for many colonized people.

Global Consequences of Industrialization

One of the most significant positive consequences was the growth and development of export economies. The industrialization brought about by new technologies and innovations led to increased productivity and efficiency, which resulted in the mass production of goods and increased exports. This led to economic growth and prosperity in many countries.
However, industrialization also had negative consequences, particularly for the environment and for people living in colonies and other areas where raw materials were extracted for commercial use. The increased demand for raw materials led to the overexploitation of natural resources, resulting in deforestation, soil erosion, and other environmental degradation. The extraction of these resources also often resulted in the displacement of local communities and the exploitation of their labor.
The commercial extraction of raw materials also led to the colonization of many regions around the world, as European powers sought to exploit the resources of their colonies to fuel their industries and support their economies. This led to the loss of sovereignty and cultural heritage for many colonized people.

Key Terms Broken Down By Theme

Environment

  • Overexploitation of natural resources such as guano, rubber, cotton, palm oil, diamonds, ivory, and minerals led to environmental degradation and loss of biodiversity.
  • Deforestation and soil erosion due to the extraction of raw materials.

Economics

  • The growth of export economies led to economic growth and prosperity in many countries
  • The commercial extraction of raw materials facilitated the establishment of large mining companies such as De Beers Mining Company, founded by Cecil Rhodes.
  • The focus on cash crops led to the displacement of local communities and the exploitation of their labor.

Society

  • The growth of export economies led to the creation of a hierarchy in society, with those who controlled the production and trade of goods at the top and the working class at the bottom.
  • The system of apartheid in South Africa, which institutionalized racial segregation and discrimination, was a direct result of the exploitation of raw materials in the region.

Technology

  • Technological advancements in transportation and communication, such as railroads, steamships, and telegraphs, greatly facilitated the transport of goods and the flow of information.
  • These advancements greatly increased productivity, reduced costs, and opened up new opportunities for trade and investment.
Browse Study Guides By Unit
🐎Unit 1 – The Global Tapestry, 1200-1450
🐫Unit 2 – Networks of Exchange, 1200-1450
🕌Unit 3 – Land-Based Empires, 1450-1750
🍕Unit 4 – Transoceanic Interactions, 1450-1750
✊🏽Unit 5 – Revolutions, 1750-1900
🚂Unit 6 – Consequences of Industrialization, 1750-1900
💣Unit 7 – Global Conflict, 1900-Present
🥶Unit 8 – Cold War & Decolonization, 1900-Present
✈️Unit 9 – Globalization, 1900-Present
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