Sidebilder
PDF
ePub

he neglected during their early years, and in whose establishment in the world when arrived at the years of maturity, he took no interest. Nature, however, had invested them with understandings superior to those of the class of society in which they ranked, and notwithstanding the many disadvantages under which they laboured, their abilities became conspicuous in their ultimate success and prosperity. This remark is more strictly applicable to his son Jedediah. Early in life he discovered an ardent desire for his own improvement, which at last grew into an habitual and strong passion for knowledge; and unassisted by the usual aids for the acquisition of learning, he, by the powers of his own genius alone, acquired a considerable acquaintance with literature and science. In the year 1754, Mr. Strutt took a farm at Blackwell, in the neighbourhood of Normanton, and married. Soon after this, about the year 1755, an event occurred which may be considered as the foundation of his future prosperity—it was to him that moment which the poet describes as the

... tide in the affairs of men, Which taken at the flood leads on to fortune.”

Wm. Woolat, his wife's brother, who was a hosier, informed him of some unsuccessful attempts that had been made to manufacture ribbed stockings on the stocking-frame, which excited his curiosity, and induced him to investigate that curious and complicated machine, with a view to effect what others had attempted in vain. After much attention, labour, and expense, he succeeded in bringing the machine to perfection, and in the year 1756, in conjunction with his brother-in-law, obtained a patent for the invention, and removed to Derby, where he established an extensive manufacture for ribbed stockings. The advantages resulting from this invention were not confined to the patentees, for a very short time after the patent was obtained, another was granted to the Messrs. Morris of Nottingham, for a machine on a similar principle, but applied to the making of silk lace, a business which since has been carried on to a very great extent. Subsequently, the principle of the invention has been applied to a considerable variety of other work. About the year 1771, Mr. Strutt entered into partnership with the celebrated Sir Richard Arkwright, who was then engaged in the improvement of his improved machinery for cotton spinning. But though the most excellent yarn, or twist, was produced by this ingenious machinery, the prejudice which often opposes new inventions was so strong against it, that the manufacturers could not be prevailed upon to weave it into calicoes. Mr. Strutt, therefore, in conjunction with Mr. S. Need, another partner, attempted the manufacture of this article in the year 1773, and proved successful; but after a large quantity of calicoes had been made, it was discovered that they were subject to double the duty (six-pence per yd.) on cottons with linen warp, and when printed, were prohibited. They had, therefore, no other resource than to ask relief of the legislature, which after great expense, and a strong opposition from the Lancashire manufacturers, they at length obtained. In the year 1775, Mr. Strutt began to erect the cotton works at Belper, and afterwards at Milford, at each of which places he resided many years. These manufactures were carried on for a number of years by Mr. Strutt himself, and since by his sons and grandsons.

Mr. Need was partner of Mr. Strutt of Derby, and Mr. Strutt having seen Arkwright's machine, and declared it to be an admirable invention, only wanting an adaptation of some of the wheels to each other, both Mr. Need and Mr. Strutt entered into partnership with Arkwright. Mr. Strutt was brought up a farmer, but having a passion for improvement, and a mechanical genius, he succeeded in adapting the stocking-frame to the matufacture of ribbed stockings. He established an extensive manufacture of ribbed stockings at Derby, and after his connection with Mr. Arkwright he erected cotton works at Milford, near Belper; he raised his family to great wealth. Some of the circumstances connected with Arkwright's settling at Nottingham, were communicated by the late Mr. Wm. Strutt, the highly gifted and ingenious son of Jedediah Strutt, to the editor of the “Beauties of England and Wales.” Even to the present time, the course of improvement has not stopped. Mules have been constructed, which do not require the manual aid of a spinner, the mechanism being so contrived as to roll the spindle-carriage out and in at the proper speed, without a hand touching it; and the only manual labour employed in these machines, which are called “self-acting mules,” is that of the children who join the broken threads. The first machine of this nature was invented by the ingenious Mr. William Strutt, F. R. S., of Derby, son of Jedediah Strutt, the partner of Arkwright; and the following mention is made of it in a memoir of that gentleman, written by his son, Mr. Edward Strutt, at present member for Derby. William Strutt died on the 29th of December, I830, and the memoir appeared shortly after in a periodical journal:—“Among his other inventions and improvements, we may mention a self-acting mule for the spinning of cotton, invented more than forty years ago, but we believe the inferior workmanship of that day prevented the success of an invention, which all the skill and improvement in the construction of machinery in the present day has barely accomplished.” This William Strutt was the early companion of Slater, they were boys in the mill together.

CHAPTER II.

THE STATE of MANUFACTUREs PREVIOUs To 1790.

“Neither affecting to conceal the smaller rills by which the stream was fed, nor to bring them so much into view as to deprive the principal object of its consequence.”

In collecting the facts relative to the early attempts at manufacture of cloths of various descriptions, I was much impressed with the struggles which were to be made against obstacles nearly of an insurmountable nature. The commencement was with imperfect machinery, obtained at great expense; ignorance of their operations; difficulties of constructing even from patterns and models, by such persons, who had no practical knowledge, and no means of knowing the theory or philosophy of the machinery. In addition to these perplexities, they had to encounter the free importations of articles from Europe, at a much lower rate than the home manufacturers could afford them. No wonder that they did not succeed, but we may be astonished that they persevered in their attempt. And we can now perceive, that from those small beginnings the present brightened prospects received their foundation. From the best information that I can gather, the jenny spinning, (with cards for rolls, and roving by hand), was first commenced in Beverly or Bridgewater, Mass.; and to the honour of that state it must be recorded, that the proprietors received assistance from the legislature. But even legislative protection could not support those small establishments against the superior machinery of England. Much individual sacrifice was endured, but these losses and vexatious experiments eventuated in the public good. We can now only record, to the praise of those brave spirits of untiring enterprise who laid the foundation of our present prosperity, such facts which must be their lasting praises. Few can now imagine the privations and disappointments, that attended these incipient measures; but immense, establishments have grown out of them, matured and perfected by all the improvements of the age."

* The manufacturing business in this country, small as it began, is now the first business of the age. It has already whitened the fields at the south with the growing of cotton; and covered the hills of the north with flourishing flocks; while the north is made alive with the busy hum of industry, and Previous to the war of the revolution, notwithstanding the restrictions which the colonies laboured under, manufactures kept gaining ground; but the war greatly retarded and embarrassed many branches. Silk had made a good beginning at the south, as well as at the north; and was receiving encouragement from the mother country, in order to rival the French, in that important national resource. Other manufactures in their incipient state, were discouraged, and entirely failed. There was a great want of mechanics, and but few emigrations from Europe. Even tools and implements of husbandry were exceedingly scarce, and sold at enormous prices.

Every attempt therefore to recommence, or begin anew any domestic manufacture, had not only to contend with importations from the East Indies, and from Europe; but the want of machinery, and the lack of artisans skilled in the various branches. This is evident in the first attempts of the jenny spinning, and the carding of rolls for woollen cloths. The evidence that will be

a great proportion of its population provided with an honest and lucrative employment; and with suitable economy, made contented and happy with the luxury of abundance. It was the being a witness of such mighty and benevolent changes in the condition of our country, and in the character and appearance of its inhabitants, that operated, not as a moderate impulse with the writer to present to the public the biography of the man who, amid disasters and difficulties, first put their springs in motion; and to present before the public some of the surprising results. The following document is the earliest of any direct proof of an association to aid domestic industry, and as such it is worthy of preservation: “A number of inhabitants of the city and liberties of Philadelphia, having entered into an agreement of co-partnership, under the name of the United Company of Philadelphia, for promoting American manufactures, this is to certify, that Tench Coxe hath paid his full subscription of ten pounds towards the joint stock of the said company, whereby he is entitled to a vote in the business of the company; of all the profits arising from the said manufactures, agreeable to the articles:—As witness my hand this eighth day of November 1775. Joseph Stiles, Treasurer.”

The above Mr. Coxe was appointed to congress, as R. Peters's letter from the house of assembly, Philadelphia, shows:

Honourable Tench Core, Esq. Sir, I have the honour to enclose a copy of the minute of the general assembly, by which it will appear that you are appointed a delegate to represent this state in congress, until the constitution for the government of the United States shall be in operation. I am, sir, Your very obedient serv't, Richard PETERs, Speaker.

incidentally produced in this volume, will show the weak and deficient state of all kinds of manufactures, previous to 1790. This period will be considered the era of their national commencement. It was in this year that the legislature of Massachusetts resolved more effectually to aid the Beverly company." About the same time, Jan. 15th, 1790, the house of representatives in congress called on the secretary of the treasury to collect information on the subject, which led to a full and extensive enquiry, and resulted in the report of Alexander Hamilton, Dec. 5, 1791. In examining American writers on this subject, I find no individual who commenced so early, and who continued with such unwavering perseverance, in the patriotic promotion of the growth of cotton, as the only redundant staple which this country could produce; and in the commencement and forwarding the cotton manufacture, under every disadvantage and embarrassment—I find no one appearing at the head and front of these measures equal to Tench Coxe. From his refutation of Lord Sheffield, f to his last draft of petition to congress on behalf of the tariff he continued the same undeviating champion, through an active and useful life, of domestic industry and economy; and not even Hamilton himself deserves greater praise, in laying the foundation and in raising the superstructure of the American system, than that enlightened and energetic statesman. Incessantly engaged as he was, in those departments of government which demanded the exertion of all his energies, we find him always with the labouring oar; and there can be no doubt that Washington's first secretary of the treasury is indebted for those valuable statistics, which enabled

* The following advertisement, April 3d, 1782, is from the Pennsylvania Gazette. A brief notice of the patriotic individual, who undoubtedly made the first “Jeans, fustians,” &c. in America, will be inserted in the Appendix:—

“Philadelphia MANUFACTUREs—suitable for every season of the year, viz: Jeans, Fustians, Everlastings, Coatings, &c., to be sold by the subscriber at his dwelling house and manufactory, (which is now standing), in South Alley, between Market street and Arch street, and between Fifth and Sixth streets, on Hudson's square. SAMUEL WEtherill.”

f The misconceptions in regard to American affairs, which prevailed in many parts of Europe in the year 1791, and particularly in the British dominions, were deemed to be very great: they appeared to be founded, in no small degree, on the disquisitions of Lord Sheffield. Tench Coxe demonstrated the errors of this writer, (whose observations had gone through six editions, from 1783 to 1791), first in the “Museum,” and then in his “View of the United States.”

« ForrigeFortsett »