From The Second War With England To 1850.
annals of the Old World. The English Parliament early became alarmed at the development of the iron industry in the colonies, particularly in Pennsylvania, and the establishment of furnaces and rolling-mills, so that in 1749 an act was passed "to encourage the importation of pig- and bar-iron from His Majesty's colonies in America, and to prevent the erection of any mill or other engine for slitting or rolling of iron, or any plating Forge to work with a tilt-hammer or any furnace for making steel in any of the said colonies." At that time one forge we know was in operation in Thornbury township, at the present Glen Mills, and some years before that date was another on Crum Creek, - Peter Dick's Iron Works. The numerous trades, such as carpenters and brickmakers, and the like, were early known on the Delaware; hence, from the references found in the Dutch records a quarter of a century before Penn came, I am confident that no bricks in any dwelling standing in Pennsvlvania to-day were made in Europe and brought here. Indeed, the bricks which we know came from Governor Printz's mansion-house, at Tinicum, present every appearance of having been hardened merely by the heat of the sun; and besides, the peculiar yellow clay of which they were made is still found on Tinicum Island. Previous to 1698, we learn from Gabriel Thomas, who came to the colony before Penn, that "brickmakers have twenty shillings per thousand for their bricks at the kiln." Wool-combers, we are also told, "have for combing twelve pence per pound." It would seem from Thomas' account that even in that early day the people of the colony had turned their attention to producing articles of daily use, for he informs us that all sorts of very good paper was made at Germantown, and a fine German linen, "such as no person of quality need be ashamed to wear, and in several places they make very good Druggets, crapes, camblets, and serges, besides other woolen clothes, the manufacture of all which daily improves." One of the first notices we have of the doings of the European settlers in Pennsylvania was that Governor Printz had built a yacht at Tinicum; and previous to 1758 we learn from Acrelius that Marcus Hook was noticeable for the building of ships, and in 1727 the first paper-mill in the old county of Chester was erected at the present Ivy Mills, in Concord. In 1715, John Camm, a stocking-weaver, was located in Upper Providence, and in 1723 he warned the public against one Mathew Burne, who had been in his employ two years, part of the time at stocking-weaving, and that Burne was no longer connected with him, but "goes about selling stockings in John Camm's name" when the articles were not made by him. Strange as it may seem, until William T. Seal1 had shown the contrary, this Mathew Burne was credited with having made the first stocking as a regular manufacturer in the United States. But of more particular interest to our present purpose is Gabriel Thomas' reference to "the famous Darby river which comes down from Cumbry by Darby town, whereon are several mills, viz., fulling-mills, corn-mill, &c." Of course, these fulling-mills did not manufacture, but simply scoured the cloth made by the busy housewives of that day. The wives and daughters of the early English settlers, as the Swedes who had preceded them, employed "themselves in spinning wool and flax, and many of them in weaving."2
1 "History of Hosiery Industry in Philadelphia." - Textile Journal, March, 1883.|
2 Campanius, p. 90.
|During all the period before the Revolutionary war, the greater number of farmers in the colonies had looms for weaving in their dwellings, on which the women wove flax and tow-linen, cloth, and linsey-woolsey of coarse texture but strong and substantial. Indeed, when power other than manual labor was first applied to any part of the process of preparing the raw material to manufacture linen, cotton, or woolen cloths, the mills were very small, containing only a few hundred spindles, where yarn simply was produced, which was afterwards woven by hand in the farm-houses. From that fact the coarse fabrics of that day, in contra-distinction of the imported goods, were known as "domestic," a term which has been continued as the name of shirtings sad sheetings even to this day, although the reason for the name had ceased a half-century ago. So general was this individual manufacturing carried on in the colonies to the north of Maryland that David Dulany, the great lawyer of that colony, in 1765, wrote that "the poorest sort of people to the Northward make all their clothes."3||3 Penna. Mag. of History, vol. iii, p. 148.|
|The unprecedented growth of the United States after the Revolution early directed the attention of thoughtful men to the subject of American manufactures, and foremost in advocacy of the establishment of such industries was Tench Coxe, of Philadelphia, - a member of our bar, and Assistant Secretary of the Treasury under Hamilton. It is now generally conceded that the first manufactory of textile fabrics in the Union was established by Samuel Wetherell, in Philadelphia, previous to 1782, at which date he was making "Jeans, Fustins, Everlastings, Coatings, &c.," suitable for every season of the year, as he informed the public by his advertisement in the Pennsylvania Gazette in April, 1782. Near the close of the year 1791, William Pollard, of Philadelphia, obtained a patent for cotton-spinning which was, we are told by Samuel Weller,4 the first water-frame put in motion in Pennsylvania, but the enterprise failing, its want of success retarded the progress of cotton-spinning in that vicinity. The time, however, was fast approaching when the spirit of enterprise, born of necessity, would stimulate the development of the manufacture of textile goods to an abnormal extent.||4 Manuel of Power, pp. 22-28.|