The Spread of the Industrial Revolution

Hobsbawm talks about some of these issues in ch. 7 but I didn't assign it because it goes into such complex economic history issues.  Hobsbawm's key points are:

As a transition to the next book (which focuses on the US), the Industrial Revolution in the United States:

American conditions were very different from those in England:

The industrial revolution was slow to get started in the U.S. because the U.S. was a third world country and England was determined to protect its advantage
Slater Mill with waterfall in front
  Slater Mill
First successful mill--Slater Mill

the green line points to the location of Lowell north and west of Boston
map from National Atlas of the United States
Origins of Lowell--the first large textile factories in the U.S. :

Boots Mill, Lowell

The Lowell labor system:

 weaving (image #10)
Lowell changes: In order to have factories, there needed to be better transportation to distribute factory-made goods over a wide area
Now consider transportation issues in the United States:
Transportation was essential to economic development, and the need became more critical with westward expansion.  Factories might be considered undemocratic, but there was no doubt that you needed roads to unify the 13 colonies into a nation.   Note particularly how transportation technology was adapted to meet American conditions.

Turnpikes in the U.S.:

  A Burr Truss Covered Bridge

Canals in the U.S.:

The Middlesex canal--27 miles joining the Charles River with the junction of the Concord and Merrimack, with 20 locks, 8 aqueducts, and 48 bridges.   MapHistoryVisitor Centermap showing Merrimack and Charles rivers

 Middlesex Canal

A similar story could be told about the Erie canal.  

 Celebration of the Completion of the Erie Canal

Steam Boats in the U.S. 

 The Clermont, from an early history of steam power by Thurston

 removing snags

The railroad in the U.S.:

 Best Friend of Charleston, 1830
total mileage in the United States:
1830 1840 1850 1860 1870
canals 1277 3326 3698

railroad     73 3328 8879 30,636 50,000

Adapting the railroad to American conditions:

started with the problem that English locomotives were too heavy and rigid--distances were long, iron track was expensive.  Inventions concentrated on the problem of cost/mile

 railroad construction (image HD217)

 The John Bull,  imported in 1831

Government helped with the huge expense.

The railroad brought modern management and a national market.  These led to big business and consumer culture.  A timeline of railway history

this page written and copyright  Pamela E. Mack
last updated 2/6/2015