Freedom: A History of US.
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Webisode 4: Wake up, America
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An English Factory
Segment 1
Southern slaves ginning cotton The Industrial Revolution

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Back in Colonial times, Americans raised most of the food they ate and made most of the clothes they wore Check The Source - William Cobbett: On American Farmers. They spun their own yarn, wove their own cloth, and stitched their own garments. They dipped candles and built tables and chairs. When wealthy colonists wanted fancy dishes, fine cloth, or elegant furniture, they sent to England for them. Manufactured goods were made in England; raw materials came from the colonies. Then, during the American Revolution, that system stopped. Suddenly there was no place to send raw materials and no supply of fine goods. The colonists had to find new markets for their lumber, tobacco, cotton, and other raw materials. Soon their sailing ships were calling in ports from Spain to India.

After the war, the new United States began trading with England again. At the same time, America was growing and changing. Our democracy was producing a strong middle class. It wasn't only the very rich who wanted to buy manufactured goods. Ordinary people wanted them too. And something was happening in England that would make that possible. It was another revolution—an industrial revolution (although no one called it that for a while). It was a way of organizing work, based on new ideas in science and technology and business. Things once made at home—like cotton and cloth—were being made faster, and often better, in factories Check The Source - The Rev. E. Cartwright: The Steam Loom. And it all began in England See It Now - An English Factory.

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Before the industrial revolution spread to the United States, the process of making clothing took many days. First, you had to turn the wool into yarn by carding, or combing, it. Then, if you wanted the wool to have color you had to dip it in dye. You could knit the wool yarn, but if you want to make cloth, the yarn must be fed into a loom for weaving. Then the cloth had to be cut into a pattern and sewn into an article of clothing.

Did you know that Freedom is adapted from the award-winning Oxford University Press multi-volume book series, A History of US by Joy Hakim?

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