African History to 1875 Fall 1997

19th Century European Middle Class

Copyright 1997 by Jim Jones
All rights reserved

                       THE RISE OF THE MIDDLE CLASS
The rise of the middle class was a result of the industrial
revolution.  The "middle class" first appeared in Europe in the
late middle ages, with the revival of trade and development of
structures (armies, diplomatic marriages, endowments) that could
convert money into power.  Those who amassed wealth found
themselves began to compete for power during the Renaissance, and
by the 18th century, had successfully created a system that
touched the entire globe.  

The middle class underwent enormous expansion in the 19th century
as a consequence of the Industrial Revolution.  The Industrial
Revolution offered both new forms of production and new scales of
production that provided much more flexible investments than the
land held by the nobility and the Church.

The new middle class was not united or homogeneous.  At the lower
end of the new middle class were small shopkeepers who found
their livelihood at the bottom of the expanding capitalist
economy.  At the other end were large capitalists who owned
companies.  Although there were enormous differences in wealth
and prestige between the different members of the middle class,
they all shared an interest in a new concept, the "expansion of
the economy."

The members of the new European middle class shared several
assumptions.  1) Personal security and prosperity were the
highest goals.  2) The sum of everyone's individual success led
to the success of the society as a whole.  3) Competition between
humans stimulated them to do their "best"--to provide their best
human effort.  4) An open, fluid economy, unfettered by natural
or government restrictions, offered the best possible environment
in which to m foster individual achievement.  5) Since the goal
of security made members of the new middle class inclined to
avoid risk, radical change occurred only after economic crisis
forced action to cut costs.

The new middle class had some specific ideas about the role of
the government in the economy, all related to the conditions of
commercial competition.  Th overnment should reduce foreign
competition with tariffs, but stay out of domestic competition. 
The overnment should also help to reduce the cost of competition
by providing transportation and communication infrastructure,
might possibly regulate standards to prevent unfair competition.

1. How did Zephaniah Kingsley view slavery?  

2. What was Zephaniah Kingsley's attitude towards government?  

3. Where did Zephaniah Kingsley get his startup money for the
first voyage in 1802?  

4. Was Zephaniah Kingsley a man of the "middle class"?