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The Mill Industry

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The Mill Industry

In modern times clothing and other textile goods are made in factories, most of which are located in foreign countries. Recently, some of the factories have been attracting some not-so-pleasant media attention which got me thinking about America, and how in the late 1700's early 1800's the U.S. was the country holding the monopoly on mills. I wondered what story would our modern media moguls write about American mills if they could travel into the past to get the breaking story. Would they see what was really behind the mill boom? The abundance of cotton, the popularity of the product, inventions such as the sewing machine and most importantly the people who worked in the mills were what turned a simple factory into a powerhouse player in pushing our economic status to a higher level.

The cotton plant is the prizefighter of the botanical world, which was great for the farmers in southern America as because the plant could thrive in the hot, dry climate. Originating in both South America and Asia cotton has played a role in the human life for as long as we've been able to harness it. It has been a popular substance since the time of the ancient Egyptians and Greeks (Yafa 1). The cotton industry, like the mill industry, was built on the backs of laborers. Along with the cotton crop came a great need for someone to harvest it, therefore cotton and slavery went hand in hand for years. It had been harvested and manufactured by hand centuries before machines like the Cotton Gin were created to alleviate the hard work of laborers. Slavery was very important in the production of cotton which was recognized by people such as Karl Marx who once said, "Without slavery there would be no cotton, without cotton there would be no modern industry" (Yafa118). But slavery wasn't the only reason there was a boost in cotton production it was also very popular and in high demand both in America and in Europe.

Clothing, tablecloths, bedding and countless other items were all manufactured in mills but they also required a certain ingredient before production could begin, versatile cotton. Without cotton, we would have to make all the necessities of life from silk, burlap or worse polyester. Cotton really helped the mill industry thrive just by being easy to manipulate and by being popular.

Cotton clothing was popular with everyone from salves, farmers, housewives to businessmen. It produced clothing which was comfortable, lightweight to wear and work in easy to wash and it easy to maintain. But there was one person who really put a name to his product. He made a simple cotton pant durable and stylish. That man was Levi Strauss. Levi which he preferred to be called as opposed to Mr. Strauss, begin his career as a salesman for his brothers goods, took a common product for the labors of the time and made them durable and with an indigo dye made them stylish (Cray 6). The weaving process that Levi used made the pants much more durable than other weaving styles. His new style of pants became know as blue jeans. What he created began as a dry-goods store but would later be a clothing empire to include everything from watches to socks (Cray 1).

The popularity of Levi's new jeans was a driving force behind many of the mills and other starting companies to come up with new product. But it wasn't only Levi's jeans that were driving the market it was also European demand. Europe's people also loved cotton clothing like Levi jeans and other cotton products. Their demand for cotton products gave America an important export. No longer did America have to depend on tobacco as the leading export of the time, now they also had many products produced in the mills to attribute to the rise in the economy.

With such high demand for cotton clothes it was hard to keep a steady supply. That is until the sewing machine was invented. It took Singer eleven days to make a machine that would change



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