The 18th Century 1700 – 1799 dawns with a quiet rumble.
In the 18th century there is the promise of an explosive growth in global commerce.
But it is time for catch up, transport systems are slow and the new science and technology awaits a manufacturing system to match. This is the century when the printed word reaches the man on the streets and reason and science becomes part of peoples everyday lives. An Agricultural Revolution begins to take place, improving nutrition to a growing population.
Scotland and England become the United Kingdom but there is fear of religious dissent fueling unrest. The invention of the first steam pumps adds fuel to the emerging Industrial Revolution, in the form of easier coal extraction. Inventions fill the patent offices, the flying shuttle, the spinning jenny and women start to take their place in science. The University of Bologna appoints Laura Bassi, 21, as professor of anatomy, Europe’s first professorship for a woman.
The East India Company flourishes and Calcutta has grown to be a major commercial port. Coffee plantations are added to the list using slave labour, hundreds of thousands of slaves are captured in Africa. Hadley unravels the mysteries of the trade winds.
Through the first half of the 18th Century, the Jacobites continue to rage against the British. Further from home in India, the mutterings of a revolt against the East India Company result in fighting and the company emerging more powerful than ever.
The Seven Years War leaves Britain in debt and in the new colonies of America, a rift between themselves and the British Government emerges.
Colonists remain disturbed by their lack of political power and taxation without representation. The 18th Century brings us the Boston Tea Party, the screw is tightened on the colonists with explosive results.
American Independence is declared.
During the American Revolutionary War, a French fleet drives a British naval force from Chesapeake Bay.
France signs an alliance with the American rebel force and recognizes the United States of America as a sovereign nation. France’s king, Louis XVI, declares war on Britain.
Captain James Cook aided by the advances made in maritime navigation, explores Tahiti and the Hawaiian Islands.
The first volume of The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, by Edward Gibbon, is published. Britain’s Adam Smith proposes a broader way of looking at wealth. His book, Wealth of Nations is published.
Convicts crowd out Britain’s prisons and the American colonies are no longer available for transportation.
The prisoners are sent to a place in Australia named after Lord Sydney.
Parisians storm the Bastille. The National Assembly declares an end to feudal rights and proclaims The Declaration of Rights of Man and Citizen. France is in the midst of a Revolution and is eventually proclaimed a republic.
Napoleon goes to war against the rest of Europe.
Smallpox causes suffering around the globe. Inoculation is tested by Edward Jenner during a smallpox epidemic in London.
By the end of the 18th Century world population has nearly doubled to one billion people.
Don’t leave it there, explore the detail of the century in a more granular way on our 18th Century timeline and find links to resources that match the century.