Who benefited from the improved cotton gin

Did cotton drive the industrial revolution?

The British textile industry comprised several fabrics, and before the industrial revolution, wool was the dominant one. Cotton was a more versatile fabric, however, and during the Industrial Revolution, cotton grew dramatically in importance, leading some historians to argue that the developments of this burgeoning industry - technology, trade, transport - stimulated the entire revolution.

Other historians have argued that cotton production is no more important than other industries that grew rapidly during the industrial revolution, and that the magnitude of the growth is skewed from the low starting point. Deane has argued that cotton has grown from insignificant to very important in a single generation and was one of the first industries to introduce mechanical / labor-saving equipment and factories. However, she also agreed that cotton's role in the economy is still exaggerated as it only indirectly affects other industries. For example, it took many decades to become a significant coal consumer, but coal production has changed before that.



By 1750, wool was one of Britain's oldest industries and the nation's main source of wealth. This was brought about by the "home system," a vast network of locals who work from home when they are not otherwise involved in the farming sector. Wool remained the main British textile until around 1800, but challenges arose in the first half of the 18th century.


The cotton revolution

When cotton came to the country, the British government passed a law in 1721 banning the wearing of printed fabrics to limit the growth of cotton and protect the wool industry. This was lifted in 1774 and the demand for cotton fabrics soon boomed. This steady demand led people to invest in ways to improve production, and a series of technological advances in the late 18th century resulted in huge changes in production methods - including machines and factories - and stimulation of other sectors. Great Britain used a large amount of American cotton production until 1833. It was among the first industries to use steam power, employing half a million workers in 1841.


The changing location of textile production

In 1750, wool was mainly produced in East Anglia, West Riding, and the West Country. The West Riding, in particular, was close to both sheep, saving local wool on transportation costs and copious amounts of coal to heat the dyes. There were also many streams for water mills. In contrast, with the decline in wool and the growth of cotton, large British textile production was concentrated in South Lancashire, which is near the UK's main cotton port, Liverpool. This region also had fast flowing currents - vital in the beginning - and soon it had a trained workforce. Derbyshire had the first of Arkwright's mills.


From the domestic system to the factory

The business style of wool production varied across the country, but most areas used the "domestic system" in which the raw cotton was brought to many individual houses, processed and then collected. One of the variations was Norfolk, where spinners gathered their raw materials and sold their spun wool to traders. After woven material was manufactured it was marketed independently. The result of the revolution made possible by new machines and energy technologies were large factories in which many people handled all processes on behalf of an industrialist.

This system didn't work right away, and for a while you had "mixed firms" where some work was done in a small factory - like spinning - and then the locals did another job in their homes, like weaving . It was not until 1850 that all cotton processes were fully industrialized. Wool remained a mixed company longer than cotton.


The bottleneck in cotton and key inventions

Cotton had to be imported from the US, after which it was blended to achieve a common standard. The cotton has then been cleaned and carded to remove peel and dirt, and the product is then spun, woven, bleached and died. This process was slow because there was a major bottleneck: the spinning took a long time, the weaving was much faster. A weaver could use all of a person's weekly spinning power in one day. As the demand for cotton increased, there was therefore an incentive to speed up this process. That incentive would be in technology: the flying shuttle in 1733, the spinning jenny in 1763, the water frame in 1769, and the loom in 1785. These machines could work more effectively if linked together, and sometimes required larger ones Space to operate and more manpower than a household could produce to maintain peak production, so new factories sprang up: buildings where crowds of people gathered to do the same thing on a new "industrial" scale.


The role of steam

In addition to inventing cotton handling, the steam engine enabled these machines to work in large factories by generating abundant cheap energy. The first form of power was the horse, which was expensive to run but easy to set up. From 1750 to 1830 the water wheel became the main source of power, and the proliferation of fast flowing currents in Britain kept demand up to date. However, the demand exceeded what water could still produce cheaply. When James Watt invented the rotating steam engine in 1781, it could be used to create a continuous source of energy in factories and power many more machines than water.

At this point, however, steam was still expensive and water continued to dominate, although some mill owners used steam to pump water back up the hill into their wheel's reservoirs. It was not until 1835 that steam power really became a cheap source, after which 75% of factories used it. The switch to steam was stimulated in part by high demand for cotton, which meant factories could pay the expensive set-up costs and get their money back.


The impact on cities and work

Industry, finance, invention, organization: all have changed under the effects of cotton demand. The workforce was shifting from sprawling agricultural regions, where they produced in their homes, to newly urbanized areas in order to provide the workforce for new and ever larger factories. Although the booming industry allowed for fairly decent wages - and this was often a strong incentive - there were problems with recruiting workers as cotton mills were initially isolated and factories looked new and strange. Recruiters have sometimes circumvented this by building new villages and schools for their workers, or bringing populations over from areas of widespread poverty. Unskilled workers were particularly a problem with recruitment as wages were low. The nodes of cotton production were expanded and new urban centers emerged.


The impact on America

Unlike wool, the raw materials for cotton production had to be imported, and these imports had to be cheap and of sufficiently high quality. A consequence and a determinant of Britain's rapid expansion in the cotton industry has been the growth of cotton production in the United States as rapidly as the number of plantations increased. The associated costs decreased as needed and money stimulated another invention, cotton gin.


Economic impact

Cotton is often cited as having carried away the rest of UK industry when it was booming. These are the economic effects:

Coal and Technology: Used only coal. to power steam engines after 1830; Coal was also used to burn bricks that were used in the construction of the factories and new urban areas.

Metal and iron: Used in the construction of the new machines and buildings.

Inventions: Inventions in textile machines helped to increase production by overcoming bottlenecks such as spinning and promoted further development.

Cotton consumption: A growth in cotton production fueled the growth of markets abroad, both for sale and for purchase.

Business: The complex system of transportation, marketing, finance, and recruitment was administered by companies that developed new and larger practices.

Traffic: This sector had to be improved to move raw materials and finished goods, and consequently overseas transportation improved, as did internal transportation using canals and railways.

Agriculture: Demand for people who have worked in the agricultural sector; The domestic system stimulated or benefited from the increasing agricultural production necessary to support new urban workers who did not have time to work the land. Many of our workers stayed in their rural surroundings.

Sources of capital: As inventions improved and organizations increased, more capital units became required to finance larger companies, and so sources of capital expanded beyond just your own families.