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Jump Back in Time The New Nation (1790-1828)
Pawtucket & Central Falls, R.I., 1877
A bird's-eye view of Pawtucket, Rhode Island, where Slater built his first cotton mill

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The First American Cotton Mill Began Operation
December 20, 1790

Samuel Slater built that first American mill in Pawtucket based on designs of English inventor Richard Arkwright. Though it was against British law to leave the country if you were a textile worker, Slater fled anyway in order to seek his fortune in America. Considered the father of the United States textile industry, he eventually built several successful cotton mills in New England and established the town of Slatersville, Rhode Island. Before the Civil War, textile manufacture was the most important industry in America and there were rapid advances in mill technology.
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