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.

accelerate
Verb

to increase speed or velocity.

economy
Noun

system of production, distribution, and consumption of goods and services.

employ
Verb

to hire or use.

factory
Noun

one or more buildings used for the manufacture of a product.

immigrant
Noun

person who moves to a new country or region.

incorporate
Verb

to blend or bring together.

Industrial Revolution
Noun

change in economic and social activities, beginning in the 18th century, brought by the replacement of hand tools with machinery and mass production.

industry
Noun

activity that produces goods and services.

mill
Noun

machine used for grinding or crushing various materials.

phase
Noun

stage in a process or transformation.

town
Noun

human settlement larger than a village and smaller than a city.