History Of The Organization Of Textile Industries

The development of the textile industry may be divided into four

stages or periods: first, the family system; second, the guild system;

third, the domestic system; and fourth, the factory system.

=The Family System.= Under the family system the work of spinning and

weaving was carried on by members of a household for the purpose of

supplying the family with clothing. There were no sales of the

product. Ea
h class in society, from the peasant class to that of the

nobleman, had its own devices for making clothing. This was the system

that existed up to about the tenth century.

=The Guild System.= As communities became larger and cities sprang up,

the textile industry became more than a family concern. There was a

demand for better fabrics, and to meet this demand it became

necessary to have a large supply of different parts of looms. The

small weaver who owned and constructed his own loom was not able to

have all these parts, so he began to work for a more prosperous

weaver. The same conditions applied to spinning, and as early as 1740

spinning was carried on by a class distinct from the weavers. As a

result the small weaver was driven out by the growth of organized

capital, and a more perfect organization, called the guild system,

arose. By this system the textile industry was carried on by a small

group of men called masters, employing two, three or more men

(distinguished later as journeymen and apprentices). The masters

organized associations called guilds and dominated all the conditions

of the manufacture to a far greater extent than is possible under

present conditions.

It was the family system that existed in the American colonies at the

beginning of the settlement, and for many years after. The guild

system was not adopted in America because it was going out of

existence on the Continent.

=The Domestic Period.= By the middle of the eighteenth century the

textile industry began to break away from the guilds and spread from

cities to the rural districts. The work was still carried on in the

master's house, although he had lost the economic independence that he

had under the old guild system where he acted both as merchant and

manufacturer. He now received his raw material from the merchant and

disposed of the finished goods to a middleman, who looked after the

demands of the market.

=The Factory System.= The domestic period was in turn crowded out of

existence by the factory system. A factory is a place where goods are

produced by power for commercial use. The factory system first came

into prominence after the invention of the steam engine. No record has

been found showing its existence prior to this invention.

English weavers and spinners became very skilful and invented

different mechanical aids for the production of yarn and cloth. These

mechanical aids not only enabled one man to do twenty men's work, but

further utilization was made of water and steam power in place of

manual labor. Then began the organization of the industry on a truly

gigantic scale, combining capital and machinery and resulting in what

is known as the factory system.

Previous to the development of the factory system there was no reason

why any industry should be centered in one particular district. Upon

the utilization of steam power the textile industry became subdivided

into a number of industries, each one becoming to a great extent

localized in convenient and suitable portions of the country. Thus in

Bradford the wool of Yorkshire (England) meets the coal of Yorkshire

and makes Bradford the great woolen and worsted center of the world.

The same thing took place in Manchester, where the cotton of America

meets the coal of England under satisfactory climatic conditions, and

around Manchester is the greatest cotton manufacturing of the world.

The same is true in America. Lawrence became a large worsted center on

account of the great fall of water and the use of the river to deposit

wool washings. Lowell, Fall River, and New Bedford became large cotton

centers for similar reasons.