Cannon actually brought about industrialization. Many of the processes that had been developed in making cannon were fundamental building blocks for industrialization. Cannon makers forged ahead in developing machine building and foundry techniques. For example, steam power relies on cylinders and pistons that must be machined precisely, techniques that were learned by cannon makers. Furthermore, gun makers made gargantuan contributions toward advancing metallurgy, another important constituent of industrialization. Moreover, guns are generally manufactured to several orders of magnitude greater precision than any other types of manufactured items, so many other industrial techniques advanced directly as the result of their production. In addition to all of the foregoing aspects of the cannon’s role as the prime mover of industrialization, the vast numbers of them that have been manufactured is sufficient to establish them as the preeminent impetus of industrialization.
An Idle Machine is an Empty Gun.
Poster: War Production Board, circa 1943.
Management War Production Drive Committee.
National Archives and Records Administration.
Still Picture Branch; College Park, Maryland.
Because of the importance of cannon in the outcome of war, it became increasingly necessary to produce them rapidly. This caused a shift from agrarian and arts-and-crafts type societies to industrial societies capable of mass production. The production of arms was the prime motivation for industrialization. Armament manufacturing created the improvements in technology and processes that made industrial manufacturing practical. The definitive roots of industrialization, and the Industrial Revolution proper, can be traced directly to the manufacture of arms. In many instances throughout industrial-era history, the manufacturing of consumer goods was frequently simply utilization of excess materials and munitions-manufacturing capacity that resulted from peacetime. For example, cellulose plastics proliferated in western culture after World War I as did aluminum items, particularly cookware, after World War II.