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Unit 3: Revolutions and Reaction

Lesson E: The Origins and Spread of the Industrial Revolution

Activity 5: The Birth of an Economic Revolution

The Industrial Revolution began in Great Britain. But why would this revolution occur there? Why not in China, which had been a key player in production and international trade for ages? Or India, which had the capacity to grow cotton and was a major supplier of finished cotton cloth prior to the Industrial Revolution? Study the following chart and analyze the trends in British exports. Consider how this might affect the economy.

Date CE
British Imports of Cotton Piece
Goods from India
(in British Pounds Sterling)
British Exports of Cotton Textiles
(in British Pounds Sterling)

Textile Production in India and Great Britain [1]

In 1772, Britain imported far more cotton from India than it exported. By 1824, British exports of cotton had outgrown its imports from India by a tremendous margin. British pounds sterling is the money system of Great Britain. Complete the following historical investigation to find out more about the birth of industry in Britain.

image of magnifying glass focusing on world history

Historical Investigation - The Birth of an Economic Revolution

Directions: For this activity, open the student resource titled Historical Investigation - The Birth of an Economic Revolution. Use the documents to explain why the Industrial Revolution began in Great Britain.

  1. Download the Student Resource: Historical Investigation - The Birth of an Economic Revolution (doc).
  2. Select the link to review the how to complete a Historical Investigation.
  3. Submit your answers to the completed historical investigation to your teacher as instructed.


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Now that you have learned about the birth of the Industrial Revolution in Great Britain, move on to learn more about industrialization, what is known as the second industrial revolution. The Second Industrial Revolution impacted countries all over the world. Move on to the next activity to learn about these events.


Page Notes:

[1] Source: This file from http://worldhistoryforusall.sdsu.edu/eras/era7.php (powerpoint) is from World History for Us All which grants permission to users to download, reproduce, or distribute site contents. Any reproduction or distribution of material on this site for sale, whether for profit/commercial or non-profit purposes, is prohibited.