Why Did William Crompton come to America?

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Primary Source 1

Catalogue of Looms thumb

Illustrated Catalogue of Looms Manufactured At The Crompton Looms Works
Courtesy of the Boston Public Library, Rare Books Department

Excerpt 1: In 1839 he returned to the United States, and in 1840 introduced his invention into the Middlesex Mills of Lowell, Mass. Up to this time no fancy woollens had been woven in this country. No fancy cassimeres had been made in Europe, excepting those woven on hand-looms. Therefore, at the Middlesex Mills, for the first time in this country, or in the world, fancy cassimeres were woven by power, and in a more perfect manner than could be made by hand

Excerpt 2: Though the looms were now fairly introduced, the low tariff which held from 1836 to 1850 was a great hinderance to the increase of manufactures: consequently the whole amount received during the fourteen-years' term of the patent on the loom was only fourteen thousand dollars.

Excerpt 3: Furbush and Crompton, the new firm, made narrow looms from 1851 to 1857, when they brought out the fast-operating broad fancy loom with improvements in box-motion. Broad looms up to this period operated at about forty-five picks. The new (1857) broad looms, with twenty-four harnesses and three boxes at each end, reached the speed of eighty-five picks per minute.

Excerpt 4: This improved loom of 1866 was exhibited at the Paris Exposition, 1867, and attracted the earnest attention of the Continental manufacturers. It was awarded a SILVER MEDAL, - the only recognition given to any loom for weaving woollens, notwithstanding seven different looms were in competition, from England, Belgium, France, Saxony, and Prussia.

Excerpt 5: The improved woollen looms exhibited at the Centennial Exhibition, 1876, by these Works, were fitted with this improved pick-finder, and it contributed towards the basis of the Commissioners' award, which was "For the BEST looms for weaving on shawls, cassimeres. and satinets, embracing original invention, ingenious construction, and excellent workmanship."

Excerpt 6: In 1868, soon after Wyman's invention of the compound lever, crank and gear box-motion, the Works commenced making gingham looms. The first order of magnitude came from the Renfrew Manufacturing Company, in 1870, for three hundred and fifty looms. From that time to the present, this gingham loom has been considered the leading loom by the first-class mills of the country, such as Renfrew Manufacturing Company, Amoskeag Manufacturing Company, Lancaster Mills, Glasgow Company, Johnson Manufacturing Company, Whittenton Manufacturing Company, Parkhill Manufacturing Company, Gloucester Gingham Mills, Bates Manufacturing Company, etc., and they show their appreciation by continuous orders. Many thousands are now in use.

Excerpt 7: It is confidently asserted, that, for variety of fancy looms, no concern can vie with the Crompton Loom Works; and it is prepared to show that its different looms surpass in execution, product, and quality, any machines of their class.

Optional Activity: Download the entire Catalogue of Looms. (2 MB) Select four additional excerpts looking for more clues on what will be needed to make your new textile factory a success. The original seven excerpts are highlighted in yellow in this PDF version.

Catalogue of Looms Adobe Reader view thumb

Weaving looms need lots of power to operate efficiently. Your textile factory is located in Lawrence, Massachusetts and has access to water power. Water is important, industrialists used machines such as looms to manufacture fabric. Recently, you were approached by Gordon McKay who has offered to sell you a new steam engine. What are the benefits to using steam power to operate your looms?

Will you power your factory with water or steam, or both?

Primary Source 2

Letter from Gordon McKay of the Lawrence Machine Shop
Courtesy of the Boston Public Library, Rare Books Department

Gordon McKay Letter

Translation of the letter above was found in the folder containing the above primary source document.

Gordon McKay Letter translation

Primary Source 3

Treatise relative to the testing of waterwheels and machinery by James Emerson (1892)
Courtesy of Google Books

Analysis of Primary Source

For each primary source, determine the origin, purpose, value, and limitation of each document.

Which document provides the most useful information for planning to build a new textile factory?

Analysis of Primary Sources Table
Catalogue of Looms
Gordon McKay Letter
Treatise on waterwheels

Proceed Day 2

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