FinalExam - Gilcrest - HIST386.docx

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Final Exam Christopher Steven Gilcrest Jr. HIST 386 Dr. Lisa Nocks
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As factories and manufacturing continued to expand in America during the 18th century, a solution had to be invented to make production more efficient and rely less on human labor. This need of efficient production was met with the invention of the steam engine being implemented into factories. However, while this invention was a great improvement over the typical use of human labor; the early, inexpensive, and smaller steam engines gave way to larger and more dynamic engines that were able to operate at a much more efficient standard. The main figure who paved the way for greater and more efficient engines was George H. Corliss, who constructed the automatic variable cutoff steam engine and produced 481 of these large engines over a span of fifteen years. 1 The use of this engine, invented by Corliss, greatly improved not only the lives of labor workers, but also the development of the entire factory industry. The need to rely less on human labor was a major concern at this point in history. Due to working conditions and laws at this time, injuries were an extremely common theme at the factories. Eliminating human error in the production process was one step the steam engine took to provide the workers of factories a better quality of life during their work day. Nye writes, “more and more, the creativity of production was becoming the province of the engineer and the inventor, and laborers merely machine attendents.” 2 The attention was driven less and less towards the actual people performing the labor due to these engines, which was a great sign of machinery being able to efficiently and quickly produce a good. Now having the ability to rely less on human labor, new products were being created at a steady quality and rate that had never been seen before. While the steam engine had a profound effect on the production cycle, it also changed the way factories were viewed during the 18th century. With the release of the steam engine, factories went through an evolutionary stage. Nye states, “machines such as the Corliss engine 1. Nye, David E. American Technological Sublime . MIT Press, 1994, 120.
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