Workers at a cotton mill manage the machinery that assembles the threads into fabric on automated looms.
Photograph by Underwood and Underwood, courtesy National Geographic
On December 20, 1790, the first American cotton mill began operations in Pawtucket, Rhode Island. An English immigrant named Samuel Slater used an English design to create the mill, which turned raw cotton into textiles. The water-powered mill vastly accelerated the production process. For this contribution, Slater is nicknamed the “Father of the American Industrial Revolution.”
The cotton mill helped make textile production the center of the American economy in the 19th century. Many mills throughout the Northeast developed his management style into the “Lowell system” of industry. In the Lowell system, a company employed children as young as 7 years old, incorporated different phases of production in one factory, and provided housing for entire families in company towns.
to increase speed or velocity.
system of production, distribution, and consumption of goods and services.
to hire or use.
one or more buildings used for the manufacture of a product.
person who moves to a new country or region.
to blend or bring together.
change in economic and social activities, beginning in the 18th century, brought by the replacement of hand tools with machinery and mass production.
activity that produces goods and services.
machine used for grinding or crushing various materials.
stage in a process or transformation.
human settlement larger than a village and smaller than a city.