Did you know that Samuel Slater was born today in 1768 in Belper, England? He started working in cotton mills when he was just 10 years old, and gained an extensive knowledge of how the machinery and businesses worked. When he was 21, he immigrated to America and started to help build and develop mills that produced thread, yarn, cloth, and more. Slater Mill, in Pawtucket, Rhode Island, is the first water-powered and mechanized cotton-spinning mill in America. In America, he is known as “The Father of the American Industrial Revolution”. In the United Kingdom he is known as “Slater the Traitor”.
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He started working in cotton mills when he was just 10 years old.
There were British laws against exporting designs for the factories and machinery for spinning cotton and weaving textiles. Samuel Slater was aware of these laws when he learned of the American efforts to build textile mills. He memorized as much as he could of how the machines worked and how they were designed before immigrating to America.
Slater’s success spurred other entrepreneurs to build their own factories and mills. In 1810, there were about 50 cotton-yarn mills in America. In 1815 there were over 140, just in the Providence, Rhode Island area.
Samuel Slater eventually owned 13 spinning mills. In many cases he created company towns around the mills he built which including housing for the factory workers, stores, farms, churches, and Sunday Schools for the children (who often started working at the mills at the age of 7).