The Lowell system was a labor manufacturing model designed by Francis Cabot Lowell in Massachusetts in the 19th century.

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The device was designed so the every step of the manufacturing procedure was done under one roof and also the work-related was performed by young adult women instead of kids or young men.

The Lowell System, i m sorry is also sometimes called the Waltham-Lowell System, was an initial used in the Waltham and also Lowell textile mills during the industrial revolution.

This model was so successful that Lowell’s business associates expanded and also opened countless textile mills in Massachusetts using this model.

Why did Lowell invent the Lowell System?

According come the Life and also Times that Francis Cabot Lowell by Chaim M. Rosenberg, Lowell want to produce a manufacturing process that was an ext efficient and also one that benefited from the morals, education and learning and solid work ethic of new Englanders:

“Francis Cabot Lowell, wealthy from birth and sheltered from the roughness of life, thought that success concerns those who occupational hard and also failure is a an individual weakness. His vision that the American textile factory differed from what he experienced in great Britain. America go not have a domestic cotton textile industry but depended on cloth imported from an excellent Britain and also India. The factory he planned to build near Boston would certainly create brand-new jobs rather than replace home spinners and weavers. Lowell had an excellent faith in the human being of new England as the source of his job force and also believed ‘that the character of our population, educated, moral and also enterprising can not fail come secure success.’ His workers would be housed and also fed by the agency and remain employed only a few years fairly than kind a permanently downtrodden underclass.”

How go Lowell get the Idea because that the Lowell System?

Lowell got the idea to construct textile mills during his expedition to britain in 1811. Britain to be the birthplace that the Industrial revolution and the many brand-new textile mills inspired Lowell to develop similar, yet better, mills in the joined States, follow to the book arrival of the power Loom, and Origin the Lowell by Nathan Appleton:

“My link to the cotton Manufacture takes date from the year 1811, as soon as I met my friend Mr. Francis C. Lowell, at Edinburgh, wherein he had actually been passing part time with his family. Us had constant conversations on the subject of the cotton Manufacture, and also he educated me the he had determined, prior to his go back to America, to visit Manchester, for the function of obtaining all feasible information ~ above the subject, v a watch to the development of the enhanced manufacture in the united States. I urged that to carry out so, and promised him mine co-operation. He reverted in 1813. He and also Mr. Patrick T. Jackson, pertained to me one day on the Boston exchange, and also stated the they had established to develop a cotton manufactory, the they had actually purchased in Waltham, (Bemis’ document mill,) and also that lock had obtained an action of incorporation, and also Mr. Jackson had agreed to offer up all various other business and take the administration of the concern.”

During Lowell’s expedition to England, he toured the mills and also memorized the architecture of the power looms. After returning to the U.S., he created the Boston Manufacturing agency in 1813 and also the firm built its very first mill next to the Charles flow in Waltham, fixed in 1814.


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Boston manufacturing Company, 1813-1816, Waltham, Ma, sculpture by Elijah blacksmith circa 19th century


The Waltham mill to be the an initial mill in the United states that could procedure raw cotton into finished cloth in one process and all under one roof with the help of that water-driven power loom, which is an apparatus used to weave yarn or thread into finished cloth.

Up until the moment of the industrial Revolution, looms to be powered through a human being via a foot pedal yet the power impend was mechanized and powered by a line shaft driven by a resource of running water, such as a river, which increased the weaving procedure significantly. Together a result, the power loom is taken into consideration one the the most necessary inventions of the commercial revolution.

The Lowell system was various from other textile production systems in the country at the time, such together the Rhode Island mechanism which rather spun the cotton in the factory and then farmed the spun cotton out to local women weavers who developed the finished fabric themselves. Contrasted to these various other textile mills, the Lowell mechanism was unprecedented and revolutionary because that its time, follow to the book Life and also times the Francis Cabot Lowell:

“Francis Cabot Lowell to be hardly alone in his efforts to develop a cotton textile industry in America. His system, however, differed markedly native Philadelphia homespun or the craft-factory design used in Rhode Island. Lowell’s commercial order ‘came to dominate the cotton market marked a radical departure from every that had gone before. In his 1864 book, Samuel Batchedler contrasts Francis Cabot Lowell’s system with Samuel Slater’s Rhode Island system. Slater ran little spinning mills, using copies of the English machinery, while Lowell developed brand-new machines for his big factory and also did spinning and also weaving under power all under one roof. Slater used the job of local families while Lowell employed healthy young women, housed and also fed in ~ the company’s expense and also paid wages in cash. Slater adhered to the old craft device while Lowell constructed labor-saving machines that compelled only a few weeks of maintain to understand the repeated tasks. Slater built small mills through a small number of spindles, when the mill at Waltham contained thousands the spindles and several looms watched end by thousands of workers. The conservative Slater clung come his tried-and-true methods of production while Lowell leaped ahead through his modern factory using the devices of fixed production. In ~ Lowell’s mill life cotton come in in ~ one end and finished fabric left at the other.”

This Lowell system was much faster and more efficient and completely revolutionized the textile industry. The eventually became the design for various other manufacturing markets in the country.

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The Lowell Mill Girls:

One that the troubles Lowell challenged in setting up his manufacturing facility was detect workers. At the time, America to be an agricultural culture and plenty of Americans were unconvinced to job-related in a factory, follow to the publication Encyclopedia the the commercial Revolution:

“Another problem the Waltham mechanism was able to solve was the trouble of labor. While european factories relied upon large, landless, urban populations whose dependency on the wage system provided them couple of economic choices, land was readily accessible to most Americans who wanted it. Together a result, americans were normally unwilling to job-related in factory conditions, preferring rather the economic independence of agricultural labor. Plenty of Americans, in fact, saw the European manufacturing facility system as naturally corrupt and abusive. Additionally, due to the fact that the American populace was small, hired labor was expensive. In stimulate to attend to this problem, Lowell draft a new business strategy to entice labor. Together mill machinery greatly lessened the require for excessive human strength, Lowell did not necessarily need workers who were physically strong, however instead needed workers that can be rental cheaply. Lowell found his employees in the girls and also young women of the surrounding countryside. This young women had actually experience in weaving and also spinning from home manufacturing and also worked for cheaper wages than did male employees.”

The Lowell system developed a new method to control the labor supply. The mill hired young, solitary women, between the ages of 15 and 35.

In bespeak to persuade young ladies to leaving their ranches and tiny towns to work at the mills, Lowell created a factory ar by building boardinghouses the were run by chaperones who applied strict ethical codes and he also made attendance of spiritual services mandatory, follow to the book The Encyclopedia the the war of 1812: A Political, Social, and Military History:

“The Lowell System forced hiring the young (usually single) women in between the periods of 15 and 35. Single women to be chosen because they could be paid less than men, for this reason increasing corporate profits, and also because they could be an ext easily regulated then men. These mill girls, together they to be called, were compelled to live in company-owned dormitories nearby to the mill and were intended to adhere to the quite strict moral code of command espoused by Lowell. They were looked after by older women, dubbed matrons, and also were expected to occupational diligently and attend church and educational classes. The young women would work a grueling 80-hour work-related week. Lowell thought his device alleviated the deplorable working conditions he experienced in England and also helped the to keep a chop rein ~ above his employees. By act so, he cultivated employee loyalty, kept wages low, and also assured his stockholders increasing profits. Although Lowell’s labor plan was very discriminatory and paternalistic compared to contemporary standards, the was seen as revolutionary in that is day. A huge number that young mill girls went top top to end up being librarians, teachers, society workers, etc., thanks in big part come the education they obtained while working at the mill; thus, the mechanism did produce benefits because that the workers and the larger society.”