History of Mills
Francis Cabot Lowell was
an American businessman and the founder of the world's first textile mill.
Together with inventor Paul Moody, Lowell created a more efficient power
loom and a spinning apparatus.
looms were in operation in England by the early 1800s, but those made
in America were inadequate. Francis Cabot Lowell realized that for the
United States to develop a practical power loom, it would have to borrow
British technology. While visiting English textile mills, he memorized
the workings of their power looms. Upon his return, he recruited master
mechanic Paul Moody to help him recreate and develop what he had seen.
They succeeded in adapting the British design, and the machine shop established
at the Waltham mills by Lowell and Moody continued to make improvements
in the loom. With the introduction of a dependable power loom, weaving
could keep up with spinning, and the American textile industry was underway.
Prior to the Civil War, textile manufacture
was the most important American industry. The first American power loom
was constructed in 1813 by a group of Boston merchants headed by Francis
Cabot Lowell. Soon textile mills dotted the rivers of New England transforming
the landscape, the economy, and the people. Initially, mill work was performed
by daughters of local farmers. In later years, immigration became the source
of mill "hands."
More on Francis Cabot Lowell Below
Wheel (Covers material on water mills)
The waterwheel is an ancient device
that uses flowing or falling water to create power by means of a set of
paddles mounted around a wheel.
In all likelihood, the earliest
tools employed by humankind for crushing or grinding seeds, nuts, and other
food-stuffs consisted of little more than a flat rock, upon which the material
was crushed by pounding with a stone or tree branch.
First Industrial City
In 1810, the New England trader
Francis Cabot Lowell decided to create an American textile industry.
Blowing wind spins the blades on
a wind turbine -- just like a large toy pinwheel. The blades are attached
to a hub that is mounted on a turning shaft. The shaft goes through a gear
transmission box where the turning speed is increased. The transmission
is attached to a high speed shaft which turns a generator that makes electricity.
The first known wind device was
described by Hero of Alexandria (c. 1st century AD)
The history of wind mills - applications
and the future.
History and development of windmills,
especially in England
The history of wind power.
of Paper, Papermaking and Paper Sacks (Covers some material on
The history of paper and papermaking,
the inventors and innovations behind the different processes.
success of the early spinning mills of southern New England in the years before
1810 and the uncertainties of shipping led the son of a leading Boston merchant
Francis Cabot Lowell, to seek a haven for his fortune in manufacturing. Having
developed the country's first working power loom, Lowell, with fellow Bostonians
Patrick Tracy Jackson and Nathan Appleton, established the Boston Manufacturing
Company along the Charles River in Waltham in 1814.
There Lowell and
his fellow entrepreneurs, later called the "Boston Associates,"
transformed the country's fledgling textile industry. Capitalized at $400,000,
the Waltham mill dwarfed its competition. The power loom and related machinery
permitted the combination of all the steps in the production of cloth under a
single roof. Instead of relying on traditional family labor, the company
recruited young single women from the surrounding countryside. So great were the
profits at Waltham that the Boston Associates soon looked for new sites, first
at East Chelmsford (renamed Lowell), and then Chicopee, Manchester, and
Lawrence. The "Waltham-Lowell system" succeeded beyond their
expectations, giving the Boston Associates control of a fifth of America's
cotton production by 1850.
permitted this tight-knit group of families - Appletons, Cabots, Lowells,
Lawrences, Jacksons - to build an economic, social, and political empire. They
helped develop the Boston and Lowell Railroad and other railroad lines in New
England. They owned controlling stock in a host of Boston financial
institutions, allowing them to finance and insure ventures through their own
companies. As their fortunes grew, the Boston Associates turned to
-philanthropy-establishing hospitals and schools-and to politics, playing a
prominent role in the Whig Party in Massachusetts. Until the Civil War, the
Boston Associates were New England's dominant capitalists.
a wheel or turbine had harnessed the waters power, the mill engineer had to
transfer the power throughout the mill to hundreds of machines. British and
early American mills ran a vertical shaft off the main drive shaft, then
transferred the power by gears to overhead shafts on each floor. Because it was
difficult to get precisely machined gears, American mills were rough and noisy
and had to be run at slow speeds. A few small mills used belting, but it wasn't
until Paul Moody used belting in the Appleton Mills in 1828 that it was
seriously considered as an alternative to shafting. Leather belts transferred
power directly to the horizontal shafts on each floor. Belts allowed faster
speeds and were quieter and less jarring than shafting. Belting was also much
lighter, easier to maintain, and more forgiving of imprecise mill construction.
By mid-century, belting had become a distinguishing characteristic of American
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