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Industrial Revolution

How it Began in the United States

History >> Industrial Revolution

The Industrial Revolution started in Great Britain in the late 1700s. It soon spread to the United States where it changed the way products were made and how people worked and lived. The first part of the Industrial Revolution in the United States took place in the Northeast.

Portrait of mill owner Samuel Slater
Samuel Slater
by National Biographical Publishing Company.
Where did the Industrial Revolution first begin?

Many historians point to the opening of a textile mill in Pawtucket, Rhode Island in 1793 as the beginning of the Industrial Revolution in the United States. The mill was founded by English immigrant Samuel Slater who had learned how to operate a textile mill in England. Slater would later go on to open thirteen textile mills throughout the region.

Textile Mills in Lowell, Massachusetts

Textile mills began to open throughout the northeast. In Massachusetts, a businessman named Frances Lowell opened the first integrated textile mill in the United States. Unlike earlier mills, Lowell's mill also weaved the thread into cloth. His mill incorporated all the steps to produce cloth from raw cotton in a single factory.

Lowell's mill grew to become one of the largest textile centers in the United States. They hired mostly women who became known as the "Lowell Mill Girls." By 1840, around 8,000 workers worked in Lowell and most of them were women. These women were also involved in early labor reform when they organized strikes in 1834 and 1836.

War of 1812

The War of 1812 had an impact on getting the Industrial Revolution started in the United States. After the war, people realized that the country was too reliant on foreign goods. They felt that the United States needed to make its own goods and to build better transportation.


The steam engine was one of the most important new inventions of the Industrial Revolution. In 1807, Robert Fulton developed the first commercially successful steamboat. This boat could travel upstream much faster than previous forms of transportation. Steamboats greatly improved the transportation of goods and people. They soon became one of the most important drivers of the Industrial Revolution in the United States.

Erie Canal

In 1825, the Erie Canal was completed between Lake Erie and the Hudson River. This opened up transportation between the Great Lakes and the Atlantic Ocean. This canal had a huge impact on how products could be shipped in the Northeast.

The Industrial Revolution Continues

The Industrial Revolution began in the Northeast, but it eventually spread throughout much of the country by the early 1900s. Large cities formed around factories and new technologies improved the production of goods, transportation, and communications. The way of life for Americans was changed forever.

Interesting Facts about the Industrial Revolution in the United States Activities

More on the Industrial Revolution:

How it Began in the United States

Alexander Graham Bell
Andrew Carnegie
Thomas Edison
Henry Ford
Robert Fulton
John D. Rockefeller
Eli Whitney
Inventions and Technology
Steam Engine
Factory System
Erie Canal

Labor Unions
Working Conditions
Child Labor
Breaker Boys, Matchgirls, and Newsies
Women During the Industrial Revolution

Works Cited

History >> Industrial Revolution

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