New England Times

February 19th, 1851

Will mill owners need employees anymore?

The United States is in the thick of an Industrial Revolution, a period of rapid advancements in machinery and manufacturing! Samuel Slater made huge advancements in the textile industry lately. Samuel Slater, Born in England is a very skilled man. Disguised as a farmer, Slater brought over machine plans to make manufacturing much easier. When he got to the United States, He and Smith Brown created their first textile mill in 1793 in Pawtucket. Soon after the textile mill was made, Eli Whitney developed the idea of interchangeable parts for the machines. This made mass production faster because if a part broke, you can just put in a new part.

Despite the hard work by Samuel Slater and Eli Whitney, the manufacturing industry grew slowly to where it is today in 1851. The reason being is because many people thought, why work in a factory when I could own my own farm? The United States used to just buy goods made in factories from Great Britain. Around 1812 this all changed when Great Britain ships blockaded eastern seaports, therefore the United States were unable to trade with Britain. People living in the United States now had to buy goods made and manufactured in the United States. After the war was over, free trade was open. The United States passed higher tariffs on trade, urging people to buy goods made in the United States.

New Ways To Employ!

Since the rise in popularity of the manufacturing industry, mills have improved. Workers in the textile industry no longer need the specific skills of craftspeople. In new textile mills, there are low-maintenance machines to do the work that people used to do by hand, like thread cloth. The daily life of a mill worker also changed. Many mill owners had trouble finding workers to work in the mills because there were other more appealing jobs available at the time.

Samuel Slater had new ideas for employment. He used two young apprentices, these apprentices often worked for several years to learn the trade, their work included only simple tasks, therefore they often left their jobs. Now, Slater has a new method of employment. His new method is to hire whole families. These families are willing to work for cheap. People are saying that children make as much money in a week as adults make in a day. Slater’s mill has fair working conditions, Slater has even built housing units for employees. Slater’s method has now become known as the Rhode Island System. Many mill owners in the Northeast have copied Slater’s methods.

However, not all mil owners copied Slater’s methods. Francis Cabot Lowell has new methods for employment. Lowell hires young, unmarried women from local farms known as Lowell girls. Lowell’s mills include a loom that can spin thread and weave cloth. Lowell provides meals and housing for the Lowell girls. Lowell girls get paid between $2-$4 each week. However, housing costs $1.25. Lowell girls are encouraged to take classes in their free time. The Lowell girls developed their own newspaper, The Lowell Offering.

The lives of mill workers are hard, however. The average workday is 12-14 hours long and they had no freedom in the mills, their lives are controlled. Skilled workers thought it was time for a change, they formed trade unions which are groups that try to improve the daily life of a mill worker. Higher wages and shorter workdays. Sometimes, workers go on strike until condition expectations are met for the workers. One strong voice in the movement is Sarah G. Bagley. She created the Lowell Female Labor Reform Association to publicize the workers conditions to make an influence on employers to improve workers conditions.

New Ways Of Transportation

Today, we are lucky to have the advancements in transportation that we have. For example we have the railroads, it all started in 1830 by a man, Peter Cooper, who entered his locomotive, Tom Thumb, in a horse-drawn race. His locomotive broke down, but many got inspired by it and advanced his design. 21 years later, we have many railroads going all over the country. That has lead to a lot, railroads enable people to have goods from across the United States. Now people in Chicago can get coal from Michigan without the long journey. It is also much faster and cheaper.

But before all that, in 1807, a man named Robert Fulton ran his first ever commercial steamboat upstream! Now, this isn’t that valuable to us in 1851 but nearly 50 years ago it was huge advancement! A boat could never get up a massive river so every farmer that would sell lumber down the river had to sell his boat for lumber, then go on a 2 month journey back to his home to start all over. This was one of the biggest transportation advancements in history. This was the first advancement in the transportation revolution, a period of rapid growth in the speed and convenience of travel because new methods of transportation.

What is the outcome of all this? Besides having much cheaper, faster, and safer transportation for citizens something a lot bigger cam out of this. People could now buy products that came from 200 miles away so of course they bought more and more products. This lead to a huge national economy, which had its wealth centered in the north. Towns were being built rapidly by railroad junctions and railroads were expanding like crazy. Trains were bringing new residents that lead to new material and construction. This was expanding our country’s population and economy.

Now we are fortunate to have the fast transportation for food and people that we do today in 1851.

Inventions Helping People’s Daily Life

The telegraph is one of the many inventions helpful inventions we have today, in 1851. I’m going to be talking about a lot of inventions such as the telegraph, farm equipment, inventions in the home, and steam power.

The telegraph is our biggest communication advancement we have today. Next year will be it’s 20th year since it was invented. Here’s a little history telegraph. It was invented by Samuel F.B. Morse in 1832. It was meant to send information over wires across great distances. It sends messages through pulses of electric current through electronic wire. To communicate with it they invented Morse code. It was code used through dots and dashes that represent a letter of the alphabet. Example, dot dot dot, dash dash dash, dot dot dot. That means SOS. Telegraphs changed the world by being able to communicate to up to 2000 miles away.

John Deere is a very important person in the farming community. He invented the Steel plow in 1837. He is a blacksmith and he saw friends struggling to plow through sick soil with an iron pow. So, he thought of having a steel blade instead of an iron one. His idea was a success and in 1846 he was selling 1000 plows per year. His invention helped farmers farm and plow huge crop fields in the midwest. Now US farmers are producing more than 170 million wheat bushels and 800 million corn bushels per year.

Another important invention was steam power. No, we already talked about steamboats and how that was huge but steam power has an effect on other things to. One of the biggest effect it had was on factories. Factory owners had to build their factories by streams or rivers because it was powered by water. Now factory owners could build their factories anywhere with steam power. Factory owners also built their factories closer to cities. This reduced the cost of shipping. People from rural areas moved to cities to work in factories so the cities increased population. Factories improved machines and machine parts. Machines could now cut and shape metal stone and wood with great precision.

An example of an advancement for homes would be a ice box and iron cook stove. 20 years ago iceboxes were invented and they helped store our food for longer periods. Iron cookstoves also made cooking much easier and safer than a cooking fire or stone hearth. Companies were mass producing in earlier inventions so now households items were much cheaper. Such as a clock. A clock is now $1.50 and 50 years ago it was $50. Matches and safety pins were invented during this time and this all helped life at home more convenient for us Americans.