The 19th Century

Do you think the world is changing too fast? You might not have felt any more comfortable in the 19th Century.

During this transformative century, the world witnessed the invention of the car, the lightbulb, music records, typewriters, telephones and steam locomotives. At the outset of the 1800s, people were living with no artificial lighting. If you needed to contact someone far away, handwritten letters was your only option.

And to visit someone far away? Better saddle up the horse. Surgeries were performed without anaesthetic, and the idea that many diseases were caused by bacteria was a theory not all doctors yet subscribed to. Imagine all of that changing within a single human lifespan.

The 19th Century also saw important progress on the political and ethical side.

The slave trade was abolished in Great Britain and many other countries at the beginning of the century. America was slower to relinquish the grim practice, and it took a bloody civil war for slavery to end. Later on, many European countries witnessed a challenge to the powers of kings and other monarchs, which resulted in increased civil liberties such as freedom of the press.

But although progress was the norm on many fronts, the people of the 19th Century also had to endure horrible wars. Napoleon kicked off the century with wars involving a large number of European powers. And the already mentioned American Civil War led to more American soldiers dying than in all other wars combined.

Near the end of the century, the invention of the machine gun and other weapons made warfare all the more gruesome.

The century saw both blood and chaos. Still, one cannot deny that the 1800s was a time of great progress. Many, if not most, of the rights, goods and luxuries we take for granted today have their roots in the 19th Century.

So now, when you crank on some music or turn on your bedside reading light, you know which century to thank.