The Lowell mechanism was a labor manufacturing model invented by Francis Cabot Lowell in Massachusetts in the 19th century.

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The device was design so the every step of the manufacturing process was done under one roof and also the work-related was carry out by young adult women rather of children or young men.

The Lowell System, i m sorry is likewise sometimes dubbed the Waltham-Lowell System, was first used in the Waltham and also Lowell textile mills during the commercial revolution.

This model was so successful that Lowell’s organization associates expanded and also opened numerous textile mills in Massachusetts making use of this model.

Why walk Lowell invent the Lowell System?

According come the Life and also Times that Francis Cabot Lowell by Chaim M. Rosenberg, Lowell want to produce a manufacturing process that was much more efficient and also one the benefited native the morals, education and learning and strong work ethic of brand-new Englanders:

“Francis Cabot Lowell, well-off from birth and sheltered indigenous the roughness of life, thought that success concerns those who work hard and also failure is a an individual weakness. His vision of the American textile manufacturing facility differed indigenous what he observed in an excellent Britain. America walk not have actually a domestic cotton textile industry yet depended on towel imported from great Britain and also India. The manufacturing facility he to plan to build near Boston would certainly create brand-new jobs rather than replace residence spinners and also weavers. Lowell had great faith in the civilization of brand-new England together the resource of his job force and believed ‘that the character of ours population, educated, moral and also enterprising might not fail come secure success.’ His workers would be housed and fed by the firm and remain employed only a couple of years fairly than kind a permanently downtrodden underclass.”

How did Lowell acquire the Idea because that the Lowell System?

Lowell acquired the idea to construct textile mills throughout his trip to brothers in 1811. Britain was the birthplace of the Industrial revolution and the many brand-new textile mills motivated Lowell to develop similar, however better, mills in the unified States, follow to the book arrival of the strength Loom, and Origin the Lowell by Nathan Appleton:

“My link to the noodle Manufacture takes date from the year 1811, once I met my girlfriend Mr. Francis C. Lowell, in ~ Edinburgh, whereby he had been passing some time v his family. We had frequent conversations top top the topic of the noodle Manufacture, and also he notified me the he had actually determined, before his return to America, come visit Manchester, because that the objective of obtaining all feasible information on the subject, with a watch to the introduction of the improved manufacture in the united States. Ns urged the to carry out so, and also promised him mine co-operation. He changed in 1813. He and Mr. Patrick T. Jackson, pertained to me sooner or later on the Boston exchange, and also stated the they had established to develop a noodle manufactory, that they had actually purchased in Waltham, (Bemis’ paper mill,) and also that lock had acquired an act of incorporation, and also Mr. Jackson had agreed to provide up all various other business and also take the monitoring of the concern.”

During Lowell’s expedition to England, he toured the mills and also memorized the design of the power looms. After return to the U.S., he created the Boston Manufacturing agency in 1813 and also the company built its an initial mill beside the Charles river in Waltham, massive in 1814.


Boston production Company, 1813-1816, Waltham, Ma, engraving by Elijah smith circa 19th century

The Waltham mill to be the very first mill in the United claims that could procedure raw cotton right into finished cloth in one procedure and every under one roof through the assist of the water-driven strength loom, which is one apparatus supplied to weave yarn or thread right into finished cloth.

Up until the time of the industrial Revolution, looms to be powered by a human being via a foot pedal but the power loom was mechanized and powered through a line column driven through a resource of running water, such as a river, which accelerated the weaving procedure significantly. Together a result, the power loom is considered one the the most important inventions the the commercial revolution.

The Lowell device was different from various other textile manufacturing systems in the country at the time, such together the Rhode Island system which instead spun the noodle in the factory and then farmed the spun cotton out to regional women weavers who created the finished fabric themselves. Compared to these various other textile mills, the Lowell mechanism was unprecedented and also revolutionary because that its time, follow to the publication Life and also times that Francis Cabot Lowell:

“Francis Cabot Lowell to be hardly alone in his initiatives to build a noodle textile sector in America. His system, however, differed markedly native Philadelphia homespun or the craft-factory model used in Rhode Island. Lowell’s industrial order ‘came to dominate the cotton sector marked a radical exit from every that had actually gone before. In his 1864 book, Samuel Batchedler contrasts Francis Cabot Lowell’s mechanism with Samuel Slater’s Rhode Island system. Slater ran little spinning mills, using duplicates of the English machinery, while Lowell developed new machines for his large factory and also did spinning and weaving under power all under one roof. Slater offered the labor of local households while Lowell employed healthy young women, housed and fed in ~ the company’s expense and paid earnings in cash. Slater adhered to the old craft system while Lowell developed labor-saving devices that required only a few weeks of maintain to understand the recurring tasks. Slater built small mills through a small number of spindles, while the mill at Waltham included thousands that spindles and several looms watched end by hundreds of workers. The conservative Slater clung come his tried-and-true approaches of production while Lowell leaped ahead v his modern-day factory utilizing the machines of mass production. At Lowell’s mill life cotton come in at one end and also finished towel left in ~ the other.”

This Lowell mechanism was much faster and more efficient and totally revolutionized the textile industry. That eventually came to be the design for various other manufacturing sectors in the country.

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The Lowell Mill Girls:

One of the troubles Lowell challenged in setting up his factory was finding workers. At the time, America was an agricultural culture and many Americans were doubtful to work-related in a factory, follow to the book Encyclopedia the the commercial Revolution:

“Another difficulty the Waltham system was may be to fix was the trouble of labor. While european factories relied upon large, landless, urban populations whose dependency on the fairy system offered them couple of economic choices, land was readily available to most Americans who preferred it. As a result, americans were normally unwilling to work in manufacturing facility conditions, preferring rather the economic independence of farming labor. Plenty of Americans, in fact, witnessed the European factory system as naturally corrupt and abusive. Additionally, since the American population was small, hired labor was expensive. In stimulate to address this problem, Lowell designed a new business strategy to attract labor. As mill machinery greatly diminished the require for excessive human strength, Lowell did no necessarily need workers who were physical strong, but instead necessary workers that could be hired cheaply. Lowell found his employee in the girls and also young females of the neighboring countryside. This young women had actually experience in weaving and spinning from home manufacturing and worked for cheaper wages than did masculine employees.”

The Lowell system created a new method to manage the labor supply. The mill rental young, solitary women, between the eras of 15 and 35.

In stimulate to persuade young ladies to leaving their farms and small towns to work at the mills, Lowell developed a factory neighborhood by building boardinghouses that were operation by chaperones who applied strict moral codes and he additionally made attendance of spiritual services mandatory, follow to the book The Encyclopedia of the war of 1812: A Political, Social, and Military History:

“The Lowell System required hiring that young (usually single) women between the ages of 15 and also 35. Single women to be chosen because they might be paid much less than men, therefore increasing that company profits, and because they can be much more easily controlled then men. These mill girls, together they were called, were forced to live in company-owned dormitories surrounding to the mill and also were intended to adhere come the quite strict moral code of command espoused by Lowell. Castle were managed by enlarge women, called matrons, and were expected to job-related diligently and also attend church and educational classes. The young women would work-related a grueling 80-hour occupational week. Lowell believed his mechanism alleviated the deplorable working problems he experienced in England and also helped that to save a tight rein top top his employees. By doing so, he cultivated employee loyalty, maintained wages low, and assured his stockholders speeding up profits. Although Lowell’s labor plan was extremely discriminatory and paternalistic contrasted to modern-day standards, the was viewed as revolutionary in the day. A large number the young mill girl went top top to become librarians, teachers, social workers, etc., thanks in huge part come the education and learning they got while functioning at the mill; thus, the device did produce benefits because that the workers and the larger society.”