Rhode Island Daily, Claire Debbink

2/10/1852

Industrial Revolution; How It Changed The United States


The industrial revolution changed life in the United States. It all started with Samuel Slater believing he could contribute to the way textiles were manufactured in the U.S. He did just that. Another person that contributed to the industrial revolution is Eli Whitney. Eli Whitney came up with the idea of mass producing guns for a potential war with France. At first the production of guns and other products were too slow and too inconsistent, Eli helped with that.

Samuel Slater believed that he could make textile manufacturing in the U.S. better, so when he decided to come to America he contacted Moses Brown, an owner of a textile business in New England. Brown sent one of his workers to test Slater's knowledge, and Slater passed. Slater's business kept growing and by the time he died in 1835 he owned or part owned 13 textile mills. Samuel Slater changed textile manufacturing forever.

Eli Whitney was another big part in the industrial revolution. In the 1790's, America feared war against the French, so they started to ask for more muskets for the army. Skilled workers made each weapon my hand. No two parts were exactly alike, so all the muskets were inconsistent. So, American gun makers could not produce guns quick enough for the government. In 1798, Eli Whitney tried to fix some of these problems. Whitney proposed the idea of mass producing guns to the U.S. government using water powered machinery. Whitney also came up with the idea of using interchangeable parts, parts of a machine that are identical. This would make them easier to assemble and replace broken parts. Whitney was given money to build a factory to make 10,000 guns in 2 years.

Despite the works of both Samuel Slater and Eli Whitney, manufacturing in America moved along very slowly. People believed that most people would prefer to work on a farm as opposed to a factory. The demand of money to work in the U.S. factories was much larger than Britain. So, the price of goods was much lower in Britain. We often bought our goods from Britain. This changed at the time of the War of 1812, Britain forbid trade between them and America, leaving Americans to buying from American manufacturers. Profits for America's factories grew, which let to manufacturers expanding their factories. At this change, the U.S. realized they were too dependent on foreign imports.

Author: Claire Debbink

Working Life In America

The factories in the U.S. changed working life a lot. The increase in mills opened up more jobs for people previously working on farms. They were able to work shorter hours and were offered a living space and money for themselves. A lot of people thought this was better as opposed to family farms.

The Rhode Island System was Samuel Slater's strategy of hiring families and dividing factory work into simple tasks, people often complained about not learning anything while working under this system. The Lowell System was based on water powered textile mills that employed young unmarried women from local farms. The system included a loom that could both spin thread and weave cloth in the same mill. This system had a dangerous environment and long hours, but the factory workers encouraged the Lowell girls to take classes and form women's clubs in their free time. So, the Rhode Island System was a job for short hours but they did not learn much and the Lowell System was a job with long, dangerous hours with freedom during their free hours.

Trade unions are groups that tried to improve pay and working conditions. The creators of this were skilled workers that had low wages and faced the threat of losing their jobs. Sarah G. Bagley, a participant in the union movement, founded the Lowell Female Labor Reform Association in 1844, publicizing the struggles of factory laborers. These labor reforms eventually got a majority of the states to pass 10-hour workday laws.

These factories changed working life in America because they were offered shorter hours than farms and were offered jobs with little skill requirements.

Author: Claire Debbink

Try The New Steamboats and Trains Today!

The transportation revolution has been brewing for a long time, here's an update. Steamboats and trains have been helping us a lot lately, with transporting goods and even people!


Steamboats have been evolving since the 1700's, although they were not in wide use until the 1800's. Robert Fulton test the first full sized commercial steamboat, called the Clermont, in the early 1700's. This steamboat floated effortlessly up the Hudson River, causing demand for a ferry service. Steamboats quickened the transportation of goods, and let people travel easily.


Trains also played a big part in transportation. Steam-powered trains were first developed in Great Britain in the early 1800's, but they were not popular in the U.S. until the 1830's. The first sign of a locomotive was designed by Peter Cooper, named Tom Thumb. They had it race a horse drawn rail car, unfortunately it broke down near the end and the horse drawn rail car won, the contest showed that this invention had true potential. By 1840 railroad companies had laid about 2,800 miles of track, this was more than existed in all of Europe. This invention also carried goods as well as people.


These two ways of transportation opened up rivers for everyone to use. Also, this fast transportation reduced shipping time and cost, helping businesses save money. It allowed messages to be sent from the Hudson to the Mississippi, and the Atlantic to the Gulf of Mexico. This let everyone communicate throughout America.


These inventions have been in the works for a long time. If you need to get somewhere fast this is the way you should travel!

Author: Claire Debbink

Question and Answer

Q: Who invented the telegraph? Why?

A: Samuel F. B. Morse invented the telegraph because he wanted to be able to send messages a far distance and was hoping he would make enough money to support his family. He later became extremely wealthy from this invention.

Q: How does a telegraph work?

A: A telegraph sends pulses of and electric current through wires spread across the country.

Q: What did steam powered factories do for businesses?

A: No longer needing a stream or waterfall for factories allowed them to move closer to the cities. With the factories near the cities, there was easier access to workers. This also reduced shipping costs. With more people, there were more improvements and inventions such as mechanics inventing tools that could cut and shape metal, stone, and wood.

Q: What did John Deere do for farming?

A: John Deere, a blacksmith, noticed that farmers in Illinois had difficulty plowing the thick soil with iron plows. Deere thought that steel would work better, and it did.

Q: What is the "mechanical reaper"?

A: In a Chicago factory Cyrus McCormick developed a harvesting machine, the mechanical reaper, this allowed farmers to quickly and efficiently cut down wheat. This allowed more crops to be produced.

Q:How did the sewing machine and other inventions improve everyday life?

A: Isaac Singer did not invent the sewing machine but he did improve it, this sewing machine helped people repair their clothes easier. Iceboxes were also helpful, they allowed fresh food to stay healthy for longer periods of time. Mass production also helped make things cheaper, so families could buy products that were previously not affordable.

Author: Claire Debbink