Slater

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Sherman, Roger

Slater, Samuel (1768-1835) Inventor, Manufacturer: Samuel Slater was born on June 9, 1768, in Derbyshire, England. After receiving a good education, and served an apprenticeship at cotton-spinning with Jedidiah Strutt. In that capacity, Slater thoroughly mastered the theory and practice of new manufacturing methods. When the US Congress passed an act in 1789 to encourage manufactures, Slater became interested in going to the US. Unfortunately, however, English law did not allow him to take any drawings or models with him. Thus, he memorized the complex plans needed to build the machinery. Slater landed in New York in November, 1789. After he heard that Moses Brown in Rhode Island had made some attempts at cotton-spinning, Slater contacted him. Brown replied, "If thou canst do this thing, I invite thee to come to Rhode Island, and have the credit of introducing cotton-manufacture into America." When he arrived in Rhode Island in January of 1790, he entered an agreement with William Almy and Smith Brown to build and operate a cotton-spinning machine. By the end of the year, the machines were ready, all designed by Slater himself. Slater trained others in how to operate the machinery, and soon the machines were producing cotton at a quality level equal to British textiles. In 1796, Slater established a Sunday School for the education and moral advancement of his workers, among the first in the United States. A second cotton mill went into operation in Rhode Island around 1800. Six years later, Slater's brother John joined him in Rhode Island, and a third cotton mill was soon built in what would become Slatersville, Rhode Island. In 1812, Samuel Slater set up mills in Oxford, Massachusetts; and began manufacturing wool around 1815. He also began manufacturing iron. All these business ventures made Slater a very wealthy man. He died on April 21, 1835, in Webster, Massachusetts.