The Lowell and Slater Mills

        In New england, during the late 1700s and early 1800s, two mills opened up. The first was owned by Samuel Slater. This mill harnessed water power to create a spinning machine. Slater used knowledge he had learned in Britain, and despite a promise, Slater opened up this mill in the US, reproducing the technology he said he wouldn't share. Two decades later, Francis Cabot Lowell took the textile industry a step further. He built a factory in Waltham, Massachusetts. He also used water power to spin looms, on which workers made textiles. The factory combined all the steps of textile production. raw cotton entered one end of the plant and emerged at the other end as finished goods. Other textile operation would be modeled after the Lowell mill. New England's first factory workers were from farms who hoped for a better life in the factories. In Rhode Island, whole families were hired and housed, even little children worked at the mills. During the long work hours, workers suffered through fast-paced production, loud noise, and a suffocating lack of fresh air. The "Lowell Girls" made up 90 percent of the workforce. These women came from local farms.