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American Factory System and the Mills of Manchester

American Factory System and the Mills of Manchester

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Published by walkley8
Manchester, N.H. was a planned city that was created by a group of men who had a "new idea" for the production of textiles which encompassed not only the building of the Amoskeag Mills, but the city in which its workforce would live.
Manchester, N.H. was a planned city that was created by a group of men who had a "new idea" for the production of textiles which encompassed not only the building of the Amoskeag Mills, but the city in which its workforce would live.

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Published by: walkley8 on Oct 03, 2013
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 NEW SOLIDARITY October 13, 1979 Page 4
The American Factory System And the Mills of Manchester
by Ginny Baier
The Amoskeag Mills of Manchester at the turn of the 20th century.
Recently I had the opportunity of visiting Manchester, New Hampshirewhere the Citizens for LaRouche headquarters in that state is located. TheMerrimack River running below the main street is lined with old textilemills. My curiosity about them led me to the Manchester Historical Associ-ation, where the staff introduced me to Manchester's history as a mill city.Their understanding of the importance of that industry to the development of  New Hampshire made me reflect on the high moral quality of the citizens of that state, who so seriously evaluate the candidates and the issues brought before them during the presidential primary. The people of New Hampshirestill recall the vital industrial boom which occurred after the AmericanRevolution, because the waterways and mills, and the ideas that shaped themhave shaped their lives and thinking as well.Like the staff at the Manchester Historical Association, the people of NewHampshire understand the importance of the Seabrook nuclear power plantas the necessary advanced technology which will provide the energyresource for industrial expansion. Seabrook maintains the traditions of "American Perfectability" and "Yankee Ingenuity"—not as cliches in someliberal candidate's mouth but as the indomitable spirit of progress whichonce ruled our country. Just as New Hampshire citizens once welcomed theAmoskeag Mills into their rural countryside, they welcome Seabrook as ameans to return industry to New England, because they know that just as themills did, it will qualitatively improve their lives.The great textile mills of Massachusetts, New Hampshire and other NewEngland cities are now abandoned. Many closed down in this century or 
 
moved to the south, leaving thousands of skilled workers jobless. Todaythose who would return America to its "unblemished" primitive origins talk of the mills as though their creation were a criminal offense. Throughexamining the origin of the mills however, we are moved to awe andadmiration of the American System. There was a time when Americans believed they could do anything. They believed it because they had alreadydone the impossible. Manchester is part of that story.
A Planned City
Manchester, N.H. was a planned city, planned and built beginning in the1830s along the banks of the Merrimack River, where only a small farmingvillage had previously existed. The city represents a unique example of therapid industrial expansion which occurred during the early part of thenineteenth century in this country. It was created by a group of men whohad a "new idea" for the production of textiles which encompassed not onlythe building of the Amoskeag Mills, but the city in which its workforcewould live. This top-down concept of industrialization proved to be sosuccessful that Manchester became within a short time of its origin thelargest textile manufacturing city in the world.A report in a New England newspaper in 1847 gave the following account:In the year 1838, I passed through this place when the firstfactory and block of boarding houses were being erected. Sincethat time . . . A city has sprung up as if by magic; for it seems but last year that I saw the place as above described. But nowthose sandy plains are covered with long broad streets,magnificent stores and hotels, princely mansions, beautifulcarriages, spacious school houses and elegant churches.The writer goes on to describe the core of what made this possible:Between the main street and the river are the boarding houses,the railroad with its extensive and very convenient depot, thecanal and the factories with all their appurtenances, all of whichare so arranged as to render Manchester one of the most de-lightful manufacturing cities in the world.This kind of planning initiated the American system of manufacturing. It produced the highest skilled labor force and the greatest industrial output inthe world by controverting the policies of Great Britain, which maintained
 
its colonies and even sovereign nations as enslaved peoples, looting their raw materials and maintaining them in technological backwardness as"captive markets" for British goods. Great Britain even passed laws makingit a crime for British residents or travelers to export or explain British plansand technology to citizens of any other country.Consequently America's industrialization was a bootstrap operation, whichdemanded of our founding scientists, engineers and inventors that they notonly achieve the technical standard set by Europe, but surpass it, if they wereto survive the continued repressive tactics of the British. This attitude has become known as "Yankee ingenuity," but few now realize what this meant.
The Power Loom
The water power loom for the manufacture of textiles was first introducedinto this country by Francis Cabot Lowell and his financial backers, Patrick T. Jackson and Nathan Appleton. In 1858 Appleton wrote an account of 
The History of the Power Loom and the Origin of Lowell, Mass
. He describesthe circumstances as follows."The power loom was at this time (1811) just being introduced in England but its construction was kept very secret, and after many failures, publicopinion was not favorable to its success." He describes how he and Jacksonapproached Lowell while he was in England on vacation about looking intothe Manchester mills. Like many inventive Americans of the early nine-teenth century, Lowell proved himself to be a mechanical genius. He had tomemorize the plans for the power loom in order to avoid imprisonment bythe British.When he returned to the United States, Lowell immediately began toimprove its design. The end result was a radically different machine thatworked. The necessary capital of $400,000 to perfect and produce the loomwas raised between Lowell, Patrick T. Jackson and Appleton."I well recollect the state of admiration and satisfaction with which we sat by the hour watching the beautiful movement of this new and wonderfulmachine, destined as it evidently was to change the character of all thetextile industry," Appleton later recalled.It was not the power loom by itself which changed the character of thetextile industry, but a grand design for the maximum benefit of its inventionto the country's economy and the quality of life of its citizens. Lowell and

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