Modern history is the timeframe roughly starting with the 19th Century until the end of the Second World War.
Various events can be seen as the start of Modern History, one of which is the American Revolution. Another would be the Napoleonic Wars. Most commonly, the Industrial Revolution serves as the starting point.
Modern History was an era of change. All aspects of life were changed and (for the first time in history) the entire world was very much involved with those changes.
In large parts of the world people moved from the countryside to cities and started working in the (new) factories that had been made possible due to the invention of the steam engine and its effect on the industrial world. Steam-driven trains and boats greatly accelerated the ability to transport goods and people.
This modernisation also had its downsides, however, as living conditions for labourers working in the new factories were very poor and the labourers were often compared with the slaves of the Southern states of the United States. Entire families were made to work in the factories and children no older than 10 were forced to work 10-15 hours a day, just for the families to be able to survive. Meanwhile, certain industrialists became ultra-wealthy. It was in this environment of great inequality and social upheval that Karl Marx, Friedrich Engels, and other thinkers began to develop the theories of socialism and communism.
Towards the end of the 19th century living conditions had improved greatly and with the end of the American Civil War (1860-1865), slaves all over the Southern states of the United States were emancipated.
In Europe the period of enlightenment had also brought significant improvements for the "common man", although living conditions remained poor by current standards.
Politically the United Kingdom was the only superpower of the era, with large colonies all over the world, a monopoly on trade, and an apparently undefeatable military. That military dominance was primarily based on the ability of the Royal Navy to control the oceans. After the Napoleonic Wars there wasn't a country with the resources to challenge the British. This period in British History is sometimes called the Victorian Age, in honor of Queen Victoria, who ruled the United Kingdom during most of that period.
It was an era of relative peace, in that there were no major wars fought, although it was also during this period that many improvements were made in the art of war, culminating in both World Wars. With the end of World War II, most European countries began to rapidly lose their colonial empires. Europe became the battleground for a war between the new superpowers, the United States and the Soviet Union.
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