The Early Development of the Factory System

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The early factory system started in Britain in about 1750. A group of inventors invented a series of machines to make it possible to mass-produce textiles. These machines were about 10,000 times faster than human power. This gave way to the Industrial Revolution and to big advancements in transportation and communication.

The factory system took a while to spread around. It took about a generation to reach Western Europe and then it reached America. The United States was slow to take in this new factory system because untouched soil was dirt cheap in America. Labor was also pretty scarce so there were not enough people to run the machines. The Americans wouldn't give up farming. Then, in 1840, immigrants began to come to the Americas. There were now enough people to run the machines. This was when America finally accepted the factory system. Little did they know that this was only the beginning for the factory system.

In 1798, Eli Whitney had the idea of interchangeable parts. He was frustrated about not being able to monopolize the cotton gin so he started in the business of mass-producing muskets. His new idea of interchangeable parts was revolutionary. The idea was to let the machines make all of the parts for the muskets. Then they would all be close to identical. Before, all of the parts were hand made and if one part broke, another part might have fit and it might not have. With machines making the parts, it was a match almost all the time. His new idea became widespread by 1850. It would eventually give way to the modern day assembly line. Eli Whitney was a Yankee so by making his idea popular he helped factories flourish in the North. This eventually gave the North and advantage over the South during the Civil War.
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