Christian History Timeline: What Happened when the World Transformed?

The world changesthe church responds

1708 Jethro Tull invents mechanical sower for large-scale planting in rows 

1709 Abraham Darby improves iron ore smelting by using coke for fuel

1712 Thomas Newcomen invents the first practical steam engine

1746 John Wesley publishes Primitive Physic

1765 Spinning jenny invented, initiating the automation of weaving 

1760s Arthur Guinness inspired to begin charity to the poor of Dublin

1772 Extension of Bridgewater Canal in NW England kicks off “canal mania” 

1784 Andrew Meikle develops a threshing machine

1779 First steam-powered mills established 

1789 Archibald Cochrane lights his estate with gas

1793 Eli Whitney develops cotton gin 

Early 1800s Many new mission societies founded 

1801 Steam locomotive demonstrated

1807 First successful steamboat launched 

1807 Slave trade outlawed in Great Britain after decades of political effort led by Christians

1807 Primitive Methodism founded in Great Britain, combining American-style worship with outreach to the poor

1811–15 Luddite riots: laborers attack factories and break up machines they fear will replace them 

1830 Liverpool and Manchester Railway begins first regular commercial rail service 

1831 Michael Faraday discovers electromagnetic induction, making electric engines possible

1834 Charles Babbage develops analytic engine, forerunner of the computer 

1833 Society of St. Vincent de Paul founded to serve poor slum dwellers

1837 Telegraph and Morse code developed; first ocean-going steamship launches  

1840s Dr. William Lockhart criticizes opium trade as impediment to missions

1840s Benjamin Lee and Arthur Lee Guinness give generously to help victims of Irish potato famine

1842 Amana Colony moves to America, decides to hold property in common

1844 Morse’s telegraph first used commercially

1846 Evangelical Alliance inaugurated

1850 Petrol (gasoline) first refined 

1851 Isaac Singer invents practical sewing machine 

1852 Elisha Otis invents elevator safety brake, making skyscrapers practical

1858 First trans-Atlantic cable completed 

1859 First successful gasoline engine used

1860 Free Methodist Church founded in the United States: antislavery, pro-holiness, free pews for the poor

1860s William and Catherine Booth begin Christian Mission in London, later renamed The Salvation Army

1863 Slavery ends in the United States 

1867 Alfred Nobel produces dynamite 

1870s–1914 Supporters of the Nonconformist Conscience in Britain work for alcohol prohibition, sexual purity, other causes

1873 Remington typewriter invented

1874 Anglo-Oriental Society for the Suppression of the Opium Trade founded

1874 Women’s Christian Temperance Union founded

1874 John Bascom becomes president of the University of Wisconsin, where the Social Gospel influences his “Wisconsin Idea”

1876 Alexander Bell invents the telephone 

1877 Thomas Edison invents the phonograph 

1879 Thomas Edison invents a practical incandescent lamp

1879 Salvation Army work begins in America 

1883 First modern skyscraper (10 stories) built in Chicago; Brooklyn Bridge opens 

1884 Hiram Maxim invents machine gun, facilitating mass slaughter and advancing mechanized warfare 

1885 Karl Benz introduces automobile with internal-combustion engine

1885 Methodists begin deaconess work, based on a German Lutheran model

1885 John Wilson becomes a member of Parliament, works for social reform

1885 Josiah Strong publishes Our Country

1886 Edward Cecil Guinness establishes the Guinness Trust to help the “laboring poor”

1880s–1890s Guinness company follows John Lumsden’s recommendations for worker treatment

1888 Heinrich Hertz puts the study of radio waves on a scientific basis

1890 William Booth publishes In Darkest England and the Way Out

1891 Pope Leo XIII issues “On Capital and Labor”

1891 Abraham Kuyper helps organize the first Christian Social Congress in the Netherlands 

1893 Cadbury begins to build the model village of Bournville

1894 W. T. Stead publishes If Christ Came to Chicago

1896 William Jennings Bryan, Social Gospel proponent, runs unsuccessfullyfor president

1896 Guglielmo Marconi patents wireless telegraph

1899 Aspirin invented 

1899 William Sheppard discovers Congo massacre

1899 Joseph Rowntree publishes The Temperance Problem and Social Reform

1899-1901 Boxer uprising rages in China

Early 1900s Charles Welch active philanthropically in Westfield, New Jersey

1902–1904 Rowntree Cocoa builds its model village, New Earswick

1903 Asa Candler assists in building Wesley MECS and associated hospital facilities 

1903 Wright brothers first achieve manned, powered, heavier than air flight 

1908 Henry Ford mass-produces the Model T 

1908 Federal Council of Churches formed

1910 Edinburgh World Missionary Conference convenes

1914 Bouck White issues “Socialist Creed”

1925 First “Life and Work” Congress convenes

1931 Pope Pius XI issues“On Reconstruction of the Social Order”

1933 Dorothy Day and Peter Maurin begin to publish the Catholic Worker and found CW communities

1935 E. Stanley Jones publishes Christ’s Alternative to Communism

1940s Koinonia Farms founded as interracial farming community in rural Georgia

1948 World Council of Churches formed

By the Editors

[Christian History originally published this article in Christian History Issue #104 in 2013]

“The world changes” adapted from “The Industrial Revolution: A Timeline” by George Landow; “The church responds” compiled by Jennifer Woodruff Tait
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