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Word Count: 774
It may be asked why modern history should begin with 1815 There is no spectacular date to signify the opening of modern times Yet it is necessary to begin somewhere and 1815 is convenient because it was in that year that Napoleon Bonaparte was finally defeated at Waterloo and his attempt at building a European empire was ended A long period of revolutionary turmoil came to a close in 1815 It has lasted for almost half a century if we count the American Revolution which had broken up the old British Empire temporarily weakened France and established the United States of America The new American republic aroused great interest in Europe for it gave new meaning and a new force to ideas of constitutional government and of political rights and civil liberties These ideas were magnified and geographically extended by the French Revolution of 1789 For twenty years from 1794 to 1814 a renovated France dominated the European continent The early stages of movements for Latin American independence also began Looking either to Europe or the Americas anyone forty years old in 1815 had personal memories of staggering events What such a person could not know was of course the future which as it turned out was to be a time of extraordinary change The century from 1815 to 1914 or from collapse of Nepoleons empire to the First World War was precisely the period when the modernization of Europe proceeded most rapidly These hundred years saw the increasing use of power machinery in the Industrial Revolution the revolution in transportation by railroad and the steamship the rise of almost instant communications with the telegraph and ocean cables the development of world markets Social classes were reconstructed where formerly the difference between aristocrat and commoner had been important the big difference now was between those who possessed capital and those who depended wholly on their own labor Politically the century after 1815 was a time
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