The Early Life of Samuel Slater
Samuel Slater was the son of a farmer who was born in Belper, Derbyshire, England on June 9, 1768. At the age of 14 years old Samuel Slater joined the textile industry, apprenticed to a man called Jedediah Strutt at Strutt's mill. Jedediah Strutt was the partner of Richard Arkwright and owned of one of the first cotton mills in Belper. Strutt was forward thinking and introduced new technology into the mill. Samuel Slater was a bright young man and over a period of 8 years rose to become the superintendent of Strutt's mill. Richard Arkwright (1732 – 1792) invented the spinning frame (later renamed the water frame) and a rotary carding engine that converted raw cotton into cotton lap (a compressed layer or sheet of cotton). Samuel Slater learnt everything he could about the new inventions and machines and made the decision to immigrate to the new world, despite the English laws.
Samuel Slater for kids: Inspired by Benjamin Franklin
Samuel Slater was inspired by Benjamin Franklin and the Pennsylvania Society for the Encouragement of Manufactures and Useful Arts. Benjamin Franklin made it known that cash prizes would be awarded for any inventions that improved the textile industry in the United States. The new nation needed to grow. Before the Revolutionary War there were very few mills or factories in the colonies - men like Samuel Slater would change the face of the nation.
Samuel Slater Emigrates to America
Samuel Slater decided to seek his fortune in the new world. He was unable to take patterns or designs of the new machinery with him but he was totally familiar with the methods and new spinning inventions and memorized the designs. Samuel Slater defied the British law against the emigration of textile workers and left England, in secret. He landed in New York in 1789. He contacted Moses Brown and William Almy, who owned a fulling mill Pawtucket, Rhode Island, offering his services as a textile expert. Brown and Almy accepted his offer and invited Samuel Slater to Pawtucket, Rhode Island to run the spindles that they had bought from Providence.
Samuel Slater in Pawtucket, Rhode Island
Samuel Slater arrived in Pawtucket, Rhode Island in January, 1790. He inspected the spindles, which turned out to be pretty useless and convinced Almy and Brown of his knowledge of the textile business and the new methods of spinning and they made him a partner. Working without drawings he started to build textile machines. By December 20, 1790, Samuel Slater had built two 72-spindled spinning frames together with carding, drawing, and roving machines. The water-wheel from the existing mill furnished the power. Samuel Slater had fulfilled all of his promises and the textile machinery he produced was a great success.