Lowell System Significance

What is the historical significance of the Lowell System?

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kipling2448 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Francis Cabot Lowell (1775-1817) was interested in modernizing the processes by which goods were manufactured in the United States. A visit to England, where the Industrial Revolution was underway, convinced Lowell that a better manufacturing system was available and that the United States could develop its own textile industry.

Key to Lowell's plan was the integration of all facets of the manufacturing processes within one self-contained complex. This was a change from the more scattered processes usually employed in the US. Manufacturing, in the case of textiles, involved the employment of disparate women and children working out of their homes on old spinning machines. Now, under Lowell's system, the process would be integrated and consolidated into a more focused system.

Additionally, Lowell planned his system to minimize the use (or exploitation) of child labor, choosing instead to use teenage girls (admittedly, still children, but not as young as many put to work in factories) and young women and only for increments of several years at a time, thereby avoiding the development of a permanent underclass of low-wage textile workers.

The significance of Lowell's vision, then, lay in its consolidation of the manufacturing process for textiles, the development of a textile industry, the use of the labor of older girls and adult women rather than children, and greater attention to workers' treatment. Lowell, in effect, represented the more humane side of the Industrial Revolution. He did have, however, detractors who viewed his labor practices as unsatisfactory despite obvious efforts at instilling much better working and housing conditions on his employees than had heretofore been the case.

ecofan74 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In the early to middle part of the nineteenth century, the emergence of the Lowell system in Boston significantly changed the course of textile manufacture.  Before the Lowell system, named for the manufacturing center at Lowell, Massachusetts, textiles were manufactured on a much smaller scale - often done by individuals.  Immediately prior to the Lowell system, the "putting-out" system of manufacture served as the most efficient means of production.  The Lowell system, rather than requiring individuals in different locations to be responsible for parts of the process, made it possible for the whole process of textile manufacture to be housed in one place, greatly improving what was really an inefficient system.  By streamlining the process, the Lowell system contributed a great deal to American textile output and served as an exemplar for the other industries in the United States in subsequent decades.

alohaspirit eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The Lowell System, named after Francis Lowell, was a huge part of the American Industrial Revolution.  The Lowell System made the factory system more advanced by using an assembly line system.  It was more functional, more products were produced, and eventually this system helped the economy to grow throughout the Northeast.  This system and the new transportation such as the steam engine train and steam boat helped to expand markets all throughout the United States.

Yojana_Thapa | Student

The Lowell System was a plan developed in the early 19th century to promote and expand textile manufacturing. Textile mills relied heavily on a labor force of women and children. It expanded the idea of the factory system. It was all part of the Industrial System.

itsnotlate | Student

alohaspirit is incorrect. The Lowell system was named after Lowell Massachusetts, Francis Lowell was responsible for the power loom.  

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