The Steam Engine

“In the never-ending search for energy sources, the invention of the steam
engine changed the face of the earth.” (Siegel, Preface) The steam engine was
the principal power source during the British Industrial Revolution in the 18th
century. The steam engine opened a whole new world to everyone. The steam engine
maximized production, efficiency, reliability, minimized time, the amount of
labor, and the usage of animals. The steam engine in all revolutionized the
Eastern Hemisphere, mainly European society. What does revolutionize actually
mean? It means that something such as the steam engine brought about a radical
change in something, and this something is the European Society. The steam
engine specifically brought about a radical change in work, transportation of
goods, and travel. The invention of the steam engine revolutionized European
society by enabling tasks to be done quicker, cheaper, and more dependably.

The steam engine use throughout the several professions revolutionized
numerous aspects of Western European Society. The first important use of the
steam engine came in 1776. The steam engine was used to show the Cornish miners
how successful it could be in removing the water from the mineshafts. This
proved to be of great importance to the Cornish, because one of their biggest
problems was the flooding of the mining shafts. (The Penetration of the Industry
by Steam Power) The mine owners “worried…that the mines would have to be
shut down unless water could be pumped out of the shafts.” “The engine
successfully raised water from the bottom of deep mines.” (Siegel, 17) This
saved the shutting down of the mines, which were essential to further the
economy. Not only did the steam engine save the mines, it provided a method of
mining that proved to be extremely quicker than the traditional techniques. One
of the biggest incomes for the British was found in their textile industry. In
the textile industry, the domestic system presented many problems for merchants.
They had difficulty regulating standards of workmanship and maintaining
schedules for completing work. Workers sometimes sold some of the yarn or cloth
in their own profit. As the demand in cloth increased, merchants often had to
compete with one another for the limited amount of workers available in
manufacturing, which increased merchants’ costs. As a result, merchants turned
increasingly to machinery, which was powered by the steam engine, for greater
production and also turned to factories for central control over their workers.
(Johnson, 30) The steam engine proved to be a reliable investment for merchants
of the textile industries not only because it wasn’t accident prone like
humans and increased production by unimaginable amounts, but it also moved the
company into a factory, which helped to urbanize life to the way we live it
today. The steam engine was also used on the farm for several purposes. It was
used extensively for deep plowing, cultivating, mole draining and ground
clearing. “Great advances were also made in agriculture with the engines
enabling greater acreage to come under the plough and production increased by
the use of machines to do tasks formerly done by hand or by horses.” (Johnson,
39) These steam engines allowed farmers to grow crops in abundance with minimal
manual labor, which was an increase in quantity and quality productions since a
machine and not a human was doing the work. Another great contribution of the
steam engine was made in the iron/coal industries. Since iron was starting to be
produced so rapidly, more coal was needed to keep the steam engines running.
Since the coal mining industry had to keep up, steam power was used for the
mining of coal, which proved to be much faster than customary methods. Because
the steam engine was used to mine coal, and because “England had large
deposits of coal to fuel the new steam engines, it enabled people to use more
machines and to build larger factories.” (Industrial Revolution. Earth
Explorer). More machines and factories using the steam engine meant more
production, more reliability, and cheaper prices. The steel industry was also
revolutionized through the use of the steam engine. Steel, smelted from iron,
was beaten, rolled or shaped on steam-powered machines. This steel became very
cheap, and was able to be used for the railroad tracks, and also used later on
in construction. (Gordon). Without the steal to be shaped so fast by the steam
engines, countries couldn’t have expanded its trade and travel the way it did.
It is also said that, “The water works and, in many cases, the canals could
not exist without steam-power, for their very existence depended upon the
regular raising of large quantities of