Appendix I : The Cotton Industry in the States

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Appendix I

The text is taken from my copy of FIELDS, FACTORIES AND WORKSHOPS: or Industry Combined
with Agriculture and Brain Work with Manual Work
, Thomas Nelson & Sons, London, Edinburgh, Dublin and New York, 1912.


A few years ago the cotton industry in the United States attracted the attention of the Manchester cotton manufacturers, and we have now two very interesting works written by persons who went specially to the States in order to study the rapid progress made there in spinning and weaving.*

*T.M. Young, The American Cotton Industry. Introduction by Elijah Helm, Secretary to the Manchester Chamber of Commerce, London 1902; and T.W. Uttley, Cotton Spinning and Manufacturing in the United States: A report . . . of a tour of the American cotton manufacturing centers made in 1903 and 1904. Publications of Manchester Universty, Economic Series, No. II., Manchester, 1905.

These two inquiries fully confirm what has been said in the text of this book about the rapid progress made in the American industry altogether, and especially in the development of a very fine cotton-weaving machinery. In his preface to Mr. Young’s book, Mr. Helm says: “The results of this inquiry may not incorrectly be called a revelation for Lancashire. It was, indeed, already known to a few on this side of the ocean that there were wide differences between the methods and organization of American and English cotton-mills. But it is only between the last three or four years that suspicion has arisen among us that our competitors in the United States have been marching faster than we have in the path of economy of production.”

The most important difference between the British and American methods was, in Mr. Helm’s opinion, in “the extensive use of the automatic loom.” Mr. Young’s investigation on the subject left no doubts that the employment of this loom “substantially reduces the cost of production, and at the same time increases the earnings of the weaver, because it permits him to conduct more looms” (p. 15). Altogether, we learn from Mr. Helm’s remarks that there are now 85,000 automatic looms running in the United States, and that “the demand for weavers is greater than ever” (p. 16). In a Rhode Island mill, 743 ordinary looms required 100 weavers, while 2,000 Northrop (or Draper) looms could be conducted by 134 weavers only, which means an average of fifteen looms for each weaver, and altogether these looms are spreading very rapidly. But it is not only in the looms that such improvements have been introduced. “The spinning frames,” we are told by Mr. Young, “containing 112 spindles a side, were tended by girls who ran four, six, eight, or ten sides each, according to the girl’s dexterity. The average for good spinners was about eight sides (896 spindles)” (p. 10).

In a New Bedford fine-spinning mill the ring-spinners were minding 1,200 spindles each (p. 16).

It is important to note the speed at which the cotton industry has been developing lately in the States. The census of 1900 gave a total of 19,008,350 spindles. But in 1909 we find already 28,178,860 spindles for cotton alone (34,500,000, including silk, wool, and worsted). And, what is still more important, most of this increase fell upon the Southern States, where machinery is also more perfect, both for spinning and weaving, and where most of the work is being done by the whites. In a South Carolina print-cloth mill, containing 1,000 Draper looms, the average for narrow looms was 15 looms to each weaver. (T.W. Uttley, l.c., pp. 4, 50, etc.)

As for the American competition in the Chinese markets, Mr. Helm gives imposing figures.

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January 16, 2017 19:24:23 :
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September 24, 2017 07:14:03 :
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