Issues That Stemmed From The Rapid Growth Of The American Textile Industry

795 words - 3 pages

Most of the manufacturing in the early 1800’s was performed in small workshops or in the homes of the men and women who created the manufactured items. Many of these items were produced by hand or by using simple machines. In the 1820’s the textile industry was growing rapidly. The demand for the textile products surpassed the abilities of the single person shop and smaller workshops to keep up with the demand (Brinkley, 2007).

As villages grew into towns and towns into cities, the demand for manufactured products increased. The individual business owner and small workshop owner had difficulty keeping up with the demand of the items they produced. A faster, more efficient way to manufacture products inspired new technology and the need to create mills and factories, and these mills and factories needed a large work force. Before factories, the single business owner was an artisan or tradesman, making items by hand one at a time. He could take as much time and put as much care as he pleased into each item he produced all the while taking great pride in his work. If she had employees, she typically sat beside them or in close proximity to them. They would talk and work, sharing personal stories about their lives and family, probably becoming quite close, and in some cases, like members of the employer’s family (Clark, 2003).

With the advent of factories, the closeness and camaraderie the business owner had with their employees began to disintegrate. Employers were more worried about their bottom line and less with the welfare of their employees. There was no time to spend chatting about their lives and families, it was more important to produce their product faster and cheaper than their competition. The employer also needed to establish a large work force to fill positions in their factories, and discovered that unlike the physical abilities required of farm laborers, machinery did most of the hard work and heavy lifting. Some employers believed that women were more obedient than men were and were better suited for factory work (Brinkley, 2007) and (Clark, 2003).

An employee who once took great pride in her work as an artisan or his work as a tradesman became little more than a common laborer who operated a machine. With the competition between factories, employers were always looking for ways to increase production by cutting costs. Employers would decrease wages and require employees to operate more machines rather than hire more workers. If...

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