Bruce Morrison » An Age of Democracy and Progress, 1815–1914

An Age of Democracy and Progress, 1815–1914

Democratic ideals strongly affect Europe and its colonies, the United States expands its borders, and technology and science change daily life.


Section 1: Democratic Reform and Activism

Section 2: Self-Rule for British Colonies

Section 3: War and Expansion in the United States

Section 4: Nineteenth-Century Progress


Section 1: Democratic Reform and Activism

Spurred by the demands of the people, Great Britain and France underwent democratic reforms.


BritainEnacts Reforms


A Severely Limited Democracy

  • In the early 1800s, vote limited to men with substantial property
  • Women could not vote at all; upper classes (5%) run the government

The Reform Bill of 1832

  • 1832 bill gives middle classsuffrage—the right to vote
  • Also gives thriving new industrial cities more representation


Chartist Movement

  • Chartist movement—expands suffrage and reform politics
  • Demands suffrage for all men, secret vote, Parliamentary reforms
  • Parliament at first rejects, but eventually adopts, Chartist goals


The Victorian Age

  • Queen Victoria—rules for 64 years at height of British power
  • Loses power to Parliament, especially House of Commons
  • Government run almost completely by prime minister, cabinet

Women Get the Vote


Organization and Resistance

  • Many women organize to win the right to vote
  • Some argue against it as too radical a break from tradition
  • Others say women do not have ability to engage in politics


Militant Protests

  • Emmeline Pankhurst forms Women’s Social and Political Union
  • After 1903, WSPU members protest, go to jail, stage hunger strikes
  • Women do not win suffrage inBritainand U.S. until after World War I


Franceand Democracy


The Third Republic

  • Francechanges governments repeatedly after Franco-Prussian War
  • ThirdRepublic—French government formed in 1875, lasts 60 years


The Dreyfus Affair

  • Dreyfus affair—spy controversy over Jewish officer in French army
  • Anti-Semitism—prejudice against Jews, strong in much ofEurope
  • Government eventually declares Captain Alfred Dreyfus innocent


The Rise of Zionism

  • Zionism—movement for Jewish homeland—grows after Dreyfus affair


Section 2: Self-Rule for British Colonies

Britain allows self-rule in Canada, Australia, and New Zealand but delays it for Ireland.


CanadaStruggles for Self-Rule


French and English Canada

  • Canadawas originally home to many Native American peoples
  • Later, problems between Catholic French, Protestant English settlers
  • Canadasplit: Upper Canada (English), Lower Canada (French)


The Durham Report

  • This division eases tensions, but upper class holds power
  • Middle class demands more reform, producing rebellions in 1830s
  • Parliament approves Lord Durham’s changes allowing more self-rule


The Dominion of Canada

  • Canadians want central government to protect interests againstU.S.
  • In 1867, Dominion of Canada formed
  • Dominion—self-governing but part ofBritish Empire


Canada’s Westward Expansion

  • First prime minister ofCanadais John MacDonald
  • ExpandsCanadato Pacific, then builds transcontinental railroad


Australiaand New Zealand


James Cook Explores

  • Captain Cook claimsNew Zealand(1769), part of Australia (1770)
  • Cook encountersMaori—native people ofNew Zealand
  • Australian native peoples called Aborigines by Europeans


Britain’s Penal Colony

  • In 1788,Britainstarts colonizing Australia, makes it penal colony
  • Penal colony—place where convicts are sent to serve their sentences
  • Upon release, prisoners could buy land and settle


Free Settlers Arrive

  • Free people eventually settle both locations
  • Settlers introduce sheep; wool becomes major export
  • Government offers cheap land to encourage immigration


Settling New Zealand

  • Britainrecognizes Maori land rights until conflicts in 1839
  • In 1840, British recognize Maori land rights, rule NewZealand



  • In early 1900s, bothAustraliaand New Zealand get limited self-rule
  • In 1850s, Australians are first to use the secret ballot
  • In 1893,New Zealandthe first nation to grant women suffrage


Status of Native Peoples

  • Colonists displace, kill many Maori and Aborigines
  • European diseases also take a heavy toll


The Irish Win Home Rule


A Troubled History

  • English expansion into, domination ofIrelandbegins in the 1100s
  • Irish Catholic majority resents English laws favoring Protestants


The Great Famine

  • Irish peasants depend heavily on potatoes for nourishment
  • 1845–48potato faminedestroys entire crop; 1/8 perish
  • Millions fleeIrelandto U.S., Canada, Australia, Britain


Demands for Home Rule

  • Many Irish wanthome rule—local control over internal affairs
  • Home rule finally granted in 1914, postponed by World War I


Rebellion and Division

  • Frustrated Irish nationalists stage failed Easter uprising in 1916
  • Irish Republican Army—unofficial military force seeking independence
  • In 1921,Irelandsplits; Northern Ireland remains part of Britain
  • South becomes Irish Free State, thenRepublicof Ireland in 1949


Section 3: War and Expansion in the United States

The United States expands across North America and fights a civil war.


Americans Move West


Manifest Destiny

  • Manifest destiny—U.S.has duty to rule ocean to ocean
  • U.S.pushes Native Americans continuously west to worse lands


Texas Joins the United States

  • American settlers enterTexas, grow unhappy with Mexican rule
  • Win independence in 1836;U.S.annexes Texas in 1845


War with Mexico

  • In 1848,U.S.wins Mexican War, gains southwest, California
  • In 1853, Gadsden Purchase establishes current U.S. boundaries

Civil War Tests Democracy


North and South

  • North uses free labor, has both farms and industry
  • South depends on slave labor, grows a few cash crops (mainly cotton)
  • Slavery fuels disagreement over states’ rights versus federal rights


Civil War Breaks Out

  • Abraham Lincoln—elected in 1860, fiercely opposed by South
  • Southern statessecede—withdraw from theUnion
  • U.S.Civil War—North defeats South after bitter fighting (1861–1865)


Abolition of Slavery

  • Emancipation Proclamation—Lincolndeclares all southern slaves free
  • North’s army frees slaves as they push farther south
  • Amendments after war extend citizenship and voting to blacks



  • From 1865 to 1877, northern troops occupy South, enforce new laws
  • After Reconstruction, troops leave and Southerners pass new laws
  • Segregation—separation of blacks and whites becomes policy in South


The Postwar Economy



  • By 1914 more than 20 million immigrants arrive from Europe,Asia
  • Most immigrants settle in West, Midwest, orNortheast U.S.
  • Immigrants provide workforce needed for industrialization


The Railroads

  • Transcontinental railroad links east and west in 1869
  • Almost 200,000 miles of track 1900
  • Railroads allow quick movement of goods and raw materials


Section 4: Nineteenth-Century Progress

Breakthroughs in science and technology transform daily life and entertainment.


Inventions Make Life Easier


Edison the Inventor

  • Thomas Edison patents over 1,000 inventions in research laboratory


Bell and Marconi Revolutionize Communication

  • In 1876, Alexander Graham Bell invents telephone
  • In 1895, Italian Guglielmo Marconi builds first radio


Ford Sparks the Automobile Industry

  • In 1880s, Germans invent first automobile
  • Henry Ford lowers cost withassembly line—one task per worker


The Wright Brothers Fly

  • In 1903, Wright brothers develop first working airplane

New Ideas in Medicine


The Germ Theory of Disease

  • Louis Pasteur discovers existence of bacteria while observing fermentation
  • He and others quickly discover that bacteria cause disease
  • British surgeon Joseph Lister links bacteria to surgical problems
  • Sterilizing instruments reduces deaths from infection
  • Medical researchers develop vaccines; cities improve sanitation


New Ideas in Science


Darwin Challenges Creationism


  • Charles Darwin—English scientist develops theory of evolution
  • In 1880s most people believe in “special creation” by God


Darwin’s Theory of Evolution

  • Darwin’s idea of natural selection says competition elevates fittest
  • Fittest then breed, their offspring share their advantages
  • Gradually, over generations, species change; new species evolve
  • Theory of evolution—species change slowly through natural selection


Mendel and Genetics

  • Austrian monk Gregor Mendel discovers patterns to inherited traits
  • Mendel’s work begins the science of genetics


Advances in Chemistry and Physics

  • In 1803, John Dalton theorizes all matter is made of atoms
  • In 1869, Dmitri Mendeleev creates periodic table of the elements
  • Radioactivity—type of energy discovered by Marie and Pierre Curie
  • Ernest Rutherford says atoms have a nucleus surrounded by electrons


Social Sciences Explore Behavior


New Ideas in Social Science


  • Sciences of archaeology, sociology, anthropology begin in 1800s
  • Psychology—study of human mind, behavior
  • Ivan Pavlov believes human actions actually unconscious reactions
  • Sigmund Freud studies unconscious, develops psychoanalysis
  • Freud, Pavlov shake Enlightenment’s faith in reason


The Rise of Mass Culture


From Leisure Culture to Mass Culture

  • Mass culture—art, music, writing, entertainment for large audience


Changes Produce Mass Culture

  • Leisure activities (movies, music) now available to working class


Music Halls, Vaudeville, and Movies

  • Traveling acts feature music, juggling, dancing
  • In 1880s, people develop early projections of moving images
  • By the early 1900s, filmmakers produce the first feature films


Sports Entertain Millions

  • Spectator sports draw huge crowds; modern Olympics inGreece, 1896