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During much of the nineteenth century Great Britain strove with notable success to maintain her position as the world's leading industrial, commercial, and financial power. Her factories continued turning out textiles, machinery, and many other goods which were exported to all parts of the world. Her merchant marine continued to be the largest of any country. London was the financial capital of the world. Britain had adopted the gold standard in 1821; most western European nations and many others eventually followed her lead. The English pound was everywhere acceptable as international exchange. By 1850, when half of all Englishmen were living in towns and cities, England was a food deficit area importing more than she exported. Foodstuffs flowed from her economic satellites in western Europe and from the world over, as well as cotton from the United States and India, wool from Australia and New Zealand, and such metals as copper, lead, and tin from many far-flung outposts. In return, England sent out not only goods, but also the capital and technical ability which helped to build railway systems or develop mines and plantations in many parts of the world. Moreover, England was the center of a mighty empire which in many ways supplemented and complemented her own economy. [excerpt]


This is a part of Section XIV: The Industrial Revolution, Classical Economics, and Economic Liberalism. The Contemporary Civilization page lists all additional sections of Ideas and Institutions of Western Man, as well as the Table of Contents for both volumes.

More About Contemporary Civilization:

From 1947 through 1969, all first-year Gettysburg College students took a two-semester course called Contemporary Civilization. The course was developed at President Henry W.A. Hanson’s request with the goal of “introducing the student to the backgrounds of contemporary social problems through the major concepts, ideals, hopes and motivations of western culture since the Middle Ages.”

Gettysburg College professors from the history, philosophy, and religion departments developed a textbook for the course. The first edition, published in 1955, was called An Introduction to Contemporary Civilization and Its Problems. A second edition, retitled Ideas and Institutions of Western Man, was published in 1958 and 1960. It is this second edition that we include here. The copy we digitized is from the Gary T. Hawbaker ’66 Collection and the marginalia are his.