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Before 1815 manufacturing in the United States had been done in homes or shops by skilled artisans. As master craft workers, they imparted the knowledge of their trades to apprentices and journeymen. In addition, women often worked in their homes parttime, making finished articles from raw material supplied by merchant capitalists. After 1815 this older form of manufacturing began to give way to factories with machinery tended by unskilled or semiskilled laborers. Cheap transportation networks, the rise of cities, and the availability of capital and credit all stimulated the shift to factory production.
The creation of a labor force that was accustomed to working in factories did not occur easily. Before the rise of the factory, artisans had worked within the home. Apprentices were considered part of the family, and masters were responsible not only for teaching their apprentices a trade but also for providing them some education and for supervising their moral behavior. Journeymen knew that if they perfected their skill, they could become respected master artisans with their own shops. Also, skilled artisans did not work by the clock, at a steady pace, but rather in bursts of intense labor alternating with more leisurely time.
The factory changed that. Goods produced by factories were not as finished or elegant as those done by hand, and...
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- Fall '13