Textile Factories Come to the U.S.
- different resources: wood is plentiful, resources like
are very spread out
- labor: most people wanted to farm, might work a few
- people are very spread apart, distances are very large
- shortage of skilled workers
- people who came to the U.S. were more ambitious, open
- capital was scarce and tended to be invested in
or overseas trade
The industrial revolution was slow to get started
the U.S. because the U.S. was a third world country and England
determined to protect its advantage
- England passed a law in 1765 (repealed
prohibiting export of textile machinery and emigration of
I. duPont said in 1802: "The greatest danger
to my business is that of attracting the attention of the
employ all possible means to prevent the establishment of
here. They burned my predecessor's cotton mill, and
try to do the same
to my mills."
Jefferson: fear of the misery of industrial
cities in England and belief that an agricultural nation was
democracy. Felt that farmers were by nature
against technology--he had a lot of machines on his
plantation, but he
against industrialization until the blockades starting in
to the war of 1812 convinced him that the U.S. couldn't
afford to be
on other countries for manufactured goods.
- Early efforts to smuggle in machines
successful, eg. disassembled mule that arrived in
Philadelphia in 1783
never successfully assembled. The first useful
equipment were not available until 1812, published
description of how
run machinery not until 1832
- shortage of labor, shortage of capital,
First successful mill--Slater Mill
Slater had served a 7
apprenticeship in England. Came to the United States
to make his
fortune and made a
partnership with a hardware merchant--Moses Brown--in
- Slater put up his expertise and his
up the money, and Slater got half ownership
- set up in an old fulling mill in 1790,
a new mill in 1793. 100 spindles, spinning only, Arkwright
frames, little innovation. Metal parts made by
blacksmiths, relying on
Slater's knowledge of critical dimensions, gearing,
- At first used almost entirely child
7 boys and 2 girls between the ages of 7 and 12 in
1790. By 1800
had more than 100 employees, and he relied on recruiting
providing housing for them around the mill (fathers often
hand loom weavers, not in the mill).
- Slater owned or had an interest in 13
and left an estate of $690,000 when he died in 1835.
- By 1810 there were 54 mills in
in Rhode Island, 14 in Connecticut--all small mills without
- British immigrants made up about half the
and machine-makers before 1830.
map from National Atlas of
Origins of Lowell :
- Boston merchants became interested in
textile factories after the War of 1812 showed the
diversification. Boston Manufacturing Co.: Nathan
Appleton, Patrick Tracy Jackson, Francis
- hired an English mechanic named Paul
Moody to build
a power loom and set up a factory on the Charles river in
in 1815--first complete cotton factory in the US.
- Needed more water power in order to
wanted to build a new town to avoid the corrupt city.
- Lowell, Mass, at the beginning of the
canal. First mill opened in 1822--built by more than
who were subject to such discrimination that they were not
in the mill. They lived in a shanty town called The
The Lowell labor system:
- land was cheap in the United States and
people wanted to own their own farms, not work in mills.
Where to find
a workforce for a
- hire young
women from the
countryside to work
a few years before they get married. Women lived in
were required to attend church, followed many factory
rules, and made good wages for
- The women averaged $3.60 a week in 1836,
point they were paying $1.50 a week for room and
favorably to $1 a week for domestic work.
- until the mid 1840s the work was not
although they worked 73
hours hours a week (a 12 to
day, six days a week, 309 days a year, with only
three holidays). Timetable
from a page
about Lowell workers .
mostly fetching and carrying.
image from Hine Collection, National Archives
- Lowell population
- The Boston Manufacturing company returned
annual dividend of 19% from 1816 to 1826. Even in the
1850s the Merrimack Company (which operated some of the
averaged 12% annual return for most of the decade.
- Competition began to result in a worse
the workers as early as the 1830s--in 1836 there was a
to a cut in wages of $1 a week. Speed-up made the work
- immigrant workers began to be hired in
immigrant workers in mills: 1845--8%, 1850--33%, 1860--60%
were Irish--potato famine started in 1845).
this page written and copyright
Pamela E. Mack
last updated 9/28/05