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companied by no other improvements, would not have allowed any purely
cotton goods to be manufactured in England. The yarn spun by the jenny,
like that which had previously been spun by hand, was neither fine enough
nor hard enough to be employed as warp, and linen or woolen threads had
consequently to be used for this purpose. In the very year, however,
(1769) in which Hargreaves moved from Blackburn to Nottingham,
Richard Arkwright took out a patent for his still more celebrated machine.
. . . The principle of Arkwright's great invention is very simple. He
passed the thread over two pairs of rollers, one of which was made to
revolve much more rapidly than the other. The thread, after passing over
the pair revolving slowly, was drawn into the requisite tenuity by the
rollers revolving at a higher rapidity. By this simple but memorable inven-
tion Arkwright succeeded in producing thread capable of employment as
warp. From the circumstance that the mill at which his machinery was
first erected was driven by water power, the machine received the some-
what inappropriate name of the water frame ; the thread spun by it was
usually called the water twist.


The invention of the fly shuttle by John Kay had enabled the weavers
to consume more cotton than the spinsters had been able to provide ; the
invention of the spinning jenny and the water frame would have been use-
less if the old system of hand carding had not been superseded by a more
efficient and more rapid process. Just as Arkwright applied rotatory motion
to spinning, so Lewis Paul introduced revolving cylinders for carding cotton.
Paul's machine consisted of " a horizontal cylinder, covered in its whole cir-
cumference with parallel rows of cards with intervening spaces, and turned
by a handle. Under the cylinder was a concave frame lined internally with
cards exactly fitting the lower half of the cylinder, so that when the handle
was turned the cards of the cylinder and of the concave frame worked
against each other and carded the wool." " The cardings were of course
only of the length of the cylinder, but an ingenious apparatus was attached


for making them into a perpetual carding. Each length was placed on a
flat, broad riband, which was extended between two short cylinders, and
which wound upon one cylinder as it unwound from the other."


This extraordinary series of inventions placed an almost unlimited sup-
ply of yarn at the disposal of the weaver. But the machinery, which had
been thus introduced, was still incapable of providing yarn fit for the finer
qualities of cotton cloth. " The water frame spun twist for warps, but it
could not be advantageously used for the finer qualities, as thread of great
tenuity has not strength to bear the pull of the rollers when winding itself
on the bobbin." This defect, however, was removed by the ingenuity of
Samuel Crompton, a young weaver residing near Bolton. Crompton suc-
ceeded (i 774-1 779) in combining in one machine the various excellences of
" Arkwright's water frame and Hargreaves's jenny." Like the former, his
machine, which from its nature is happily called the mule, " has a system
of rollers to reduce the roving ; and, like the latter, it has spindles without
bobbins to give the twist, and the thread is stretched and spun at the same
time by the spindles after the rollers have ceased to give out the rove. "

Before Crompton's time it was thought impossible to spin
eighty hanks to the pound ; the mule has spun three hundred
and fifty hanks to the pound ! The natives of India could spin
a pound of cotton into a thread one hundred and nineteen miles
long; the English succeeded in spinning the same thread to
a length of one hundred and sixty miles. Yarn of the finest
quality was at once at the disposal of the weaver, and an
opportunity was afforded for the production of an indefinite
quantity of cotton yarn. But the great inventions which have
thus been enumerated would not of themselves have been
sufficient to establish the cotton manufacture on its present
basis. The ingenuity of Hargreaves, Arkwright, and Cromp-
ton had been exercised to provide the weaver with yarn.
Their inventions had provided him with more yarn than he
could by any possibility use. The spinster had beaten the
weaver just as the weaver had previously beaten the spinster,
and the manufacture of cotton seemed likely to stand still
because yarn could not be woven more rapidly than an expert
workman with Kay's improved fly shuttle could weave it.



Such a result was actually contemplated by some of the leading manu-
facturers, and such a result might possibly have temporarily occurred if it
had not been averted by the ingenuity of a Kentish clergyman. Edmund
Cartwright, a clergyman residing in Kent, happened to be staying at
Matlock in the summer of 1 784, and to be thrown into the company of
some Manchester gentlemen. The conversation turned on Arkvvright's
machinery, and " one of the company observed that as soon as Arkwright's
patent expired so many mills would be erected and so much cotton spun
that hands would never be found to weave it." Cartwright replied " that
Arkwright must then set his wits to work to invent a weaving mill." The
Manchester gentlemen, however, unanimously agreed that the thing was
impracticable. Cartwright " controverted the impracticability by remarking
that there had been exhibited an automaton figure which played at chess."
It could not be " more difficult to construct a machine that shall weave than
one which shall make all the variety of moves which are required in that
complicated game." Within three years he had himself proved that the
invention was practicable by producing the power loom. Subsequent inven-
tors improved the idea which Cartwright had originated, and within fifty
years from the date of his memorable visit to Matlock there were not less
than one hundred thousand power looms at work in Great Britain
alone. . . .

Such are the leading inventions which made Great Britain in less than
a century the wealthiest country in the world. . . .


Steam was actually used early in the eighteenth century as a motive power
for pumping water from mines ; and Newcomen, a blacksmith in Dartmouth,
invented a tolerably efficient steam engine. It was not, however, till 1 769,
that James Watt, a native of Greenock, and a mathematical-instrument
maker in Glasgow, obtained his first patent for " methods of lessening the
consumption of steam, and consequently of fuel, in fire engines." James
Watt was born in 1 736. His father was a magistrate, and had the good
sense to encourage the good turn for mechanics which his son displayed
at a very early age. At the age of nineteen Watt was placed with a
mathematical-instrument maker in London, but feeble health, which had
interfered with his studies as a boy, prevented him from pursuing his
avocations in England. Watt returned to his native country. The Glasgow
body of Arts and Trades, however, refused to allow him to exercise his
calling within the limits of their jurisdiction ; and had it not been for the
University of Glasgow, which befriended him in his difficulty and appointed


him their mathematical-instrument maker, the career of one of the greatest
geniuses whom Great Britain has produced would have been stinted at
its outset.

There happened to be in the university a model of Newcomen's engine.
It happened, too, that the model was defectively constructed. Watt, in the
ordinary course of his business, was asked to remedy its defects, and he
soon succeeded in doing so. But his examination of the model convinced
him of serious faults in the original. Newcomen had injected cold water
into the cylinder in order to condense the steam and thus obtain a neces-
sary vacuum for the piston to work in. Watt discovered that three fourths
of the fuel which the engine consumed was required to reheat the cylinder.
" It occurred to him that, if the condensation could be performed in a sepa-
rate vessel, communicating with the cylinder, the latter could be kept hot,
while the former was cooled, and the vapor arising from the injected water
could also be prevented from impairing the vacuum. The communication
could easily be effected by a tube, and the water could be pumped out.
This is the first and the grand invention by which he at once saved three
fourths of the fuel and increased the power one fourth, thus making every
pound of coal produce five times the force formerly obtained from it."
But Watt was not satisfied with this single improvement. He introduced
steam above as well as below the piston, and thus again increased the
power of the machine. He discovered the principle of parallel motion, and
thus made the piston move in a true straight line. He regulated the supply
of water to the boiler by the means of " floats," the supply of steam to the
cylinder by the application of " the governor," and, by the addition of all
these discoveries, " satisfied himself that he had almost created a new engine
of incalculable power, universal application, and inestimable value. "...

The steam engine, indeed, would not have been invented in the eighteenth
century, or would not at any rate have been discovered in this country, if
it had not been for the vast mineral wealth with which Great Britain has
fortunately been provided. . . .


At the commencement of the seventeenth century Dud Dudley . . . had
proved the feasibility of smelting iron with coal ; but the prejudice and
ignorance of the work people had prevented the adoption of his invention.
In the middle of the eighteenth century, attention was again drawn to his
process, and the possibility of substituting coal for wood was conclusively
established at the Darby's works at Coalbrook Dale. The impetus which
was thus given to the iron trade was extraordinary. The total produce of
the country amounted at the time to only 1 8,000 tons of iron a year, four


fifths of the iron used being imported from Sweden. In 1802 Great Britain
possessed 1 68 blast furnaces, and produced 1 70,000 tons of iron annually.
In 1806 the produce had risen to 250,000 tons; it had increased in 1820
to 400,000 tons. Fifty years afterwards, or in 1870, 6,000,000 tons of iron
were produced from British ores.

The progress of the iron trade indicated, of course, a corresponding
development of the supply of coal. Coal had been used in England for
domestic purposes from very early periods. Sea coal had been brought to
London; but the citizens had complained that the smoke was injurious
to their health, and had persuaded the legislature to forbid the use of coal
on sanitary grounds. The convenience of the new fuel triumphed, however,
over the arguments of the sanitarians and the prohibitions of the legisla-
ture, and coal continued to be brought in constantly though slowly increas-
ing quantities to London. Its use for smelting iron led to new contrivances
for insuring its economical production.

Decay of small industries. Scarcely less striking would be
an account of the rise of machine production in other indus-
tries, following the use of steam power and cheap iron and
steel. Shoe manufacturing, the grinding of flour, the slaughter-
ing of meat animals and the curing and packing of meat, the
manufacture of watches, automobiles, etc., and various other
industries have shown the same tendency toward the factory
system of production. Regarding changes in our own country,
Professor Ely writes : 1

Let the reader call to mind the many things in our economic life which
the world never saw before. He will, of course, think at once of the rail-
way and of steam navigation, and of other applications of steam to industry.
But these have brought other important new phenomena. The concentra-
tion of large masses of working-people in great factories of which they own
no part, and under a single employer, such as we see daily, is something
new for skilled mechanics ; not that nothing of the kind ever existed be-
fore, but its existence is so much more common and affects so many more
people that in its social aspects it is new. In the last century, and in previous
centuries of the Middle Ages, artisans owned the tools which they used,
and after they had fully mastered their trades usually called no man
master, but worked in their own little shops. Even within the memory
of the author, still comparatively a young man, this condition of things

1 Richard T. Ely, An Introduction to Political Economy, pp. 55-57. New
York Chautauqua Press, 1889.


has become less common. The smith, under the spreading tree, of whom
Longfellow sang, is disappearing. He has left the cross-roads in the little
village and now works in a machine shop. His friends, the carpenter and
the shoemaker, have accompanied him. A few artisans may stay to do
repairing and other small work, but the cheaper processes of vast establish-
ments have rendered this migration inevitable for the many. Only the few
among artisans can live in the old style.


Houses are constructed in large establishments and they are sent to small
places where it is only necessary to put them together. Merchants have
also been obliged to leave the villages where they were owners of inde-
pendent establishments to seek employment in immense city retail and
wholesale shops, because the railroad has carried their customers away
from them.

The amount of production increases continually, but the number of sepa-
rate establishments where production is carried on decreases uninterruptedly.
Milling serves as a good illustration. " The completion of the great mills
has caused the abandonment and decay of hundreds of the picturesque, old-
fashioned neighborhood mills. In 1 870, according to the census of that year,
there were in the entire country 22,573 grist mills, 58,448 hands, represent-
ing $151,500,000 of capital, and making a product worth $444,900,000.
In 1880 the number of establishments was 24,338, the number of hands
58,407, the capital invested $177,300,000, and the value of the product
was $505,100,000 (the price of flour had declined ten per cent in this
decade). The increase shown in the number of establishments ... is more
apparent than real, the great bulk of flour having been made in a decidedly
smaller number of mills in 1880 than in 1870. Since 1880 the blighting
effect of the great merchant mills upon the small establishments has become
visible to every one. According to the Miller's Directory for 1884, . . .
there were at that time some 22,940 mills in the country, a decline of 1,398
from the census figures of 1880. . . . From 1884 to 1886 . . . the number
of milling establishments has declined to 16,856 ... a loss in two years of
more than twenty-six per cent." l The number of mills in the South has
declined more rapidly than elsewhere. In 1880, in North Carolina, 1313
mills employed only 1844 men, but in the same state there were only 632
mills in 1886. It is said that the number of mills in the country is destined
to become very much smaller still. Readers can readily gather from census
and trade reports many similar illustrations of this concentration of busi-
ness, which is one of the main causes of the existence of present problems.

1 Albert Shaw in the Chautauquan for October, 1887.


Tendency of mechanically expert nations toward indoor
industries. Large portions of the world's population still remain
in a condition of mechanical inexpertness. They find it more
advantageous to live from the products of the soil, exchanging
these products for the manufactured products of the mechani-
cally expert nations. Other populations, like those of our own
West, while mechanically expert, occupy land of such abun-
dance and fertility that they find it more profitable to cultivate
land than to turn to the indoor industries. They use their me-
chanical expertness in contriving and operating farm machinery.
They exchange their large surplus of farm products for the
manufactured products of other people who are mechanically
expert and who occupy lands of less extent and lower fertility.
The latter, not having vast areas to cultivate, find less profit-
able opportunities for their mechanical expertness out of doors
than indoors. Therefore they develop the indoor industries.
England, who got a good start ahead of the rest of the world in
this line of development, prospered amazingly. The eastern part
of the United States, together with France, Belgium, Holland,
and lately Germany, have been following in the same direction.
As this tendency increases, the competition among the indoor
industries is likely to become so intense as to reduce the profits
and drive a certain percentage of the people back to the farms.

Taking the United States as a whole, it is rapidly ceasing
to be primarily an agricultural country and is becoming a manu-
facturing country, following a similar development in England
and northwestern Europe. Canada, South America, Australia,
South Africa, and all countries where white men colonize will
doubtless follow in the same direction. There will then be left
only the tropics in which to sell the surplus products of manu-
facture and from which to draw the surplus products of the
soil. It is probable that the development of the indoor indus-
tries will be checked before that state is reached. In that case
each country will have to preserve a balance, or equilibrium,
between the indoor and the outdoor industries.


As pointed out in the chapter on the Genetic Industries, the
advance in civilization, and the general improvement of living
conditions, tends to add to the relative importance of the indoor
as compared with the outdoor industries. The finer the goods
we demand, the more work we make, generally speaking, for
the indoor workers. Even farm work itself comes, in a sense,
to be done indoors rather than outdoors. The substitution of
the tractor for the horse may serve to illustrate this statement.
The raising of horses is outdoor work ; the manufacturing of
tractors is indoor work. If we use more tractors and fewer
horses, a larger proportion of our workers will work indoors
and a smaller proportion outdoors.

This is a process which must be expected to continue even
though we remain a self-sufficing nation. If we cease to be a
self-sufficing nation, bringing raw materials and products of the
soil from distant portions of the earth, and sending in exchange
the more refined products of the indoor industries, we must
expect that manufacturing will become in larger and larger
degree our dominant occupation.


Moving things over long distances. Since all industry con-
sists in moving materials from one place to another, it follows
as a matter of course that transportation must form an important
part of the industrial system. That which we call transportation
differs, however, from other kinds of work in that it consists
in moving materials over long distances, distances which are
measured in miles rather than in inches, feet, or yards. The
transportation system has been likened to the veins and arteries
of the physiological organism, just as the telegraph and tele-
phone systems have been likened to the nerves.

The development of the factory system as described in the
preceding chapter, and of large-scale production in general,
would have been impossible without cheap transportation.

The railway and the factory have gone hand in hand in their develop-
ment and in their economic results. With the means of transportation which
existed two hundred years ago large industries would have been impossible.
The substitution of turnpikes for common roads, of canals for turnpikes,
and of railways for canals was as essential a part of industrial progress as
was the development of the factory system. 1

Without a wide market on which to sell its large product a
large factory or manufacturing establishment would be an impos-
sibility. In the days of restricted local markets, when each little
community was almost self-sufficing, small shops having indi-
vidual handicraftsmen could supply the needs of each such
unit. Not the least important of the changes which have come
about since the middle of the eighteenth century has been the

1 President A. T. Hadley, ''Transportation," in Palgrave's Dictionary of
Political Economy.



battering down of the walls which divided one restricted market
from another, and the creation of nation-wide or world-wide
markets instead of a series of local, restricted markets.

The widening of the market. Cheap transportation, more
than anything else, has made possible the development of nation-
wide and world-wide markets. Raw materials sometimes have
to be brought long distances, especially in a case where several
different kinds of raw material enter into the making of a given
product. These different kinds of raw material are not always
found in close juxtaposition. The iron ore of the Lake Superior
region would be practically useless, because of its distance from
the coal fields, were it not for cheap transportation on the Great
Lakes, by means of which it can be carried almost to the mouths
of the coal mines of Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, and Pennsylvania.

In other cases the raw material itself is produced over such
wide areas as to make centralized and large-scale production an
impossiblity without cheap transportation. The slaughtering of
meat animals and the curing and packing of the meat is a case
in point. These animals must be grown on the farms and
ranges over considerable areas. Without cheap transportation
they would have to be slaughtered and consumed nearer the
sources of production ; with cheap transportation they may be
sent to a few large packing centers, and from these centers the
meat can be distributed over practically the whole country and
over considerable portions of the civilized world. Without cheap
transportation every large city would be dependant upon the
supply of meat that could be grown within driving distance, that
is, within such distances as the animals could travel on foot.
They would have to be slaughtered near each center of con-
sumption in order that the meat might be distributed economi-
cally. Without cheap transportation the cotton industry of New
England could never have developed to such proportions as it
has. The raw material is all produced hundreds of miles, and
most of it thousands of miles, away from the factories. The
manufactured product, in turn, is distributed over the entire


country and considerable portions of the civilized world. Every
description of the industrial revolution in England gives great
attention to the cotton and woolen industries, for it was in these
industries that the transition was most striking. And perhaps
the most striking feature was the long distances over which the
raw material had to be transported and the wide markets in
which the finished product could then be sold. Before the
development of the railways, water transportation was the only
cheap form ; and England was peculiarly well situated with
respect to .ocean transportation.

However great the economies of large-scale production may
be, if the cost of transportation were as great as it once was,
the small producer, using locally-produced raw materials and
selling on a local market, would save so much on the cost of
transportation as to give him an advantage over the biggest
factory located a long distance away. The cheaper transporta-
tion becomes, the less the saving of transportation costs will
figure as an advantage in industry. Every industry will then
tend to be located in the place where other advantages are
greatest. When freight costs one cent per ton per mile, one can
readily see that one could ship a suit of clothes weighing, say ten
pounds, a long distance without adding perceptibly to the cost
of the suit. The freight for a thousand miles would be only five
cents. If it cost twenty-five cents per ton per mile, distance
would be a very large factor in the location of a clothing industry.

Water transportation developed first. Historically, water
transportation was cheapened long before we had cheap land

Online LibraryThomas Nixon CarverPrinciples of political economy → online text (page 19 of 48)