Many were coming to America as illiterate European peasants.
They were becoming educated, learning many new trades. Freedom and education empowered them. It gave them hope.
One such man, Samuel Slater, a worker in a mill in England, came to America and built a cotton-spinning mill next to a waterfall.
Waterpower turned the machines that spin cotton fibers into yarn. Soon there were spinning and weaving mills beside many New England streams.
Families worked in the mills---even children. They would work for $1 a week. It was a hard life, but it was work.
Many immigrants came to work the factories.
This increased the demand to for raw Cotton and for farms and plantations to produce cotton in the South.
Slavery in the South
Plantation owners could not plant, farm, and harvest the cotton totally on their own. They needed many workers. Unfortunately instead of hiring workers, many in that time went to Africa and got slaves to work for them for free. They owned them and the slaves had to work for them.
Africans were sold as prisoners from neighboring tribes. Many never learned to read or write, but instead worked hard labor their whole lives.
It was a hard life.
Some slave owners were “kind” to their slaves, but many were very cruel to them. It was still wrong to own a slave and not let them be free people.
In 1641, Massachusetts legally recognized slavery. The selling of slaves was outlawed in 1808 but slaves were still sold illegally. By 1818 only the northern states had outlawed any type of slavery.
The Cotton Gin
Every cotton ball has seeds at the center. Prior to 1790, seeds were removed by hand.
The average rate a man could remove the seeds was one pound of cotton per day.
The Cotton Gin was a machine that was built to help remove the seeds. It was invented in 1793 by Eli Whitney, and revolutionized the South.
With the first cotton gin, Whitney did the work of several men. Great demand for cotton existed because mills had increased their productivity.
The South now produced more cotton and found an eager market in the Northern US industrial centers.
The high demand for cotton required more laborers for the fields. This need caused illegal slave trade to develop because slave trade was outlawed in 1808.
Whitney’s Cotton Gin contributed to the Industrial Revolution in America.
Eli Whitney never received royalties for his invention, but later opened a factory which produced guns and was the first to use the principle of interchangeable parts.
Slavery grew much during this time. It was wrong. We will learn in the weeks ahead, that some slaves escaped on the Underground Railroad which consisted of paths to the north to freedom. Harriet Tubman was a famous conductor on the “railroad” and led over 300 slaves to freedom.
In 1865 the War between the States outlawed slavery in the entire United States.