31 OCTOBER 1840, Page 14


MR. MONTGOMERY was trained to the cotton-manufacture in Scot- land, and left that country in 1836 for the United States. Here he became superintendent of the York Factories at Saco, in Maine ; and he also appears to have travelled through the American manufacturing districts to inspect the economy of the factories, as well as to have consulted the persons best informed upon the practical details of the manufacture. In compliance with the wishes of his Scottish friends, he has published the result of his experience of the cotton-manufacture in America, and con- trasted it with his knowledge of that in Great Britain, so as to present to the practical man of both countries a complete idea of the methods of manufacture adopted in each, and of the processes in which one excels the other. He also states some fitets and enters into some speculations as regards the future ; inferring that Great Britain runs a very considerable risk of being successfully competed with in all foreign markets by her American rivals. The Practical Detail cf the Cotton-Illanujiicture of the United States of America is a very valuable and meritorious publication ; real in its character, sufficient in its information, conveying that information clearly and concisely, and incidentally furnishing many glimpses of daily life amongst the artisans or " helps " of America. As Mr. MONTGOMERY, however, is addressing himself to cotton- spinners, and deals much in technicalities, he is not to be ibI-

lowed at all without the diagrams which illustrate his text, and rarely to be fully comprehended without some knowledge of the cotton-manufitcture. We shall therefore endeavour to possess the reader with his more general views and striking facts, referring those persons who may be practically interested in the subject to the volume itself.

Until the cotton is finally woven into cloth it undergoes four processes in the mills. (1.) It must be cleaned from seeds and dirt, and the tufts of the cotton-wool opened out. (2.) The filaments which, after cleaning, are doubled up or tangled, must be drawn out lengthwise or parallel with one another. (3.) The cotton, which in this state is very tender, must receive a slight twist to prepare it for (4.) being spun into yarn or thread ; after which, it is ready for weaving. Each of these operations, how- ever, is effected by two or more processes. The cotton, for ex- ample, after being cleansed from seeds and the grosser particles of dirt in the willow, is, in England, completely purified by beating, scutching, and blowing; one machine generally combining the three processes. Again, in straightening the filaments of wool, the first operation is carding ; but this must be followed by a drawing and doubling .process, in order to render them perfectly parallel, and to give them sufficient strength to bear twisting. In all these earlier processes, Mr. MONTGOMERY considers the Americans decidedly inferior to the British : they neither clean, nor card, nor draw their cotton well, or at least so well as we do. They are also inferior in spinning, though not to the same extent as they are in carding. But in those departments which relate to weaving by power, " the Americans," he says, "have in every respect equalled, and in some things surpassed, any thing I have yet seen either in Glasgow or Manchester. I refer to common power- loom-weaving. In fancy-weaving, either by power or hand, this country, so for as I am informed, has not yet made a beginning." All this relates to skill, but the Americans have also certain natural facilities which tend to give them an advantage over the British manufficturer : their power is water, which costs no. thing for its working—ours is steam, which requires fuel; their raw material being grown in the country, is procured at a cheaper rate titan ours—which has to be conveyed across the Atlantic, subject to a heavier freight, a greater succession of profits, and a fiscal charge. If the amount of business done

by one American factory would permit the employment of a travelling-agent in the South, or if, as is sometimes done, several parties unite together to employ one, the cotton may be pro-

cured at little more than 1 per cent. on the first cost, exclusive of transport : when, however, the usual mode is followed, of purchas-

ing through a cotton-broker, the total advance on the planter's

price is from 10 to 12 per cent.; and Mr. MONTGOMERY rates this advantage at about 17 per cent. on the cost of the cotton in

favour of' America. hence, in all articles where the value of raw material exceeds that of the workmanship, the American goods are driving the British out of' the market, not merely in the United States but in other foreign countries.

And this process Mr. MONTGOMERY infers will go on. Indepen- dent of the natural advantages already mentioned, of water-power

not nearly occupied, and of an indigenous raw material, he argues • that economical management has reached its limits in the British factories, and that very little if any further saving can be effected in this direction : the only hope of the British manufacturer is improvement in machinery,—which, independent of its uncertainty, can be only a temporary resource when made. In America, on the contrary, there is great room for immediate and extensive savings in the processes and the management. Any one, entirely ignorant of the manufiseture, who should take the trouble to compare Dr. Ulm's description of the British machines with Mr. MONTGOMERY'S account of those used in America, would at once recognize the superiority of ours in the finish with which they must effect their operations, and their provisions against waste. Compared with the British, the generality of the American machinery (for there are said to be exceptions) appears of a primitive kind. Waste or loss of the raw material takes place to a greater extent than in Eng- land : advantageous changes might be made in the superintendence, as well as in the working departments; whilst more judgtnent, exer- cised in certain processes, would produce a better article than at present. If these changes were effected—and neither moral nor physical reasons exist to prevent them—the cotton-manufacturers of Great Britain must submit to a reduction both of wages and profits, or be deprived of a still greater part of their foreign trade ; which, probably, after a time no reduction would retain. Without some change for the better, it is possible that such a result will eventually take place. There are economical cir- cumstances, however, connected with America, that will in all likelihood retard this distressful consummation,—the scarcity of capital, or what conies to the same thing, the many channels for its investment ; the high rate of profits; the demand for labour, with a consequent want of control over the labourer, and some natural drawbacks, having each a tendency to 'check the advance of Ame- rica. It appears that all or nearly all the American cotton-factories are carried on by joint-stock companies, no individual having suffi- cient means or inclination to risk them in an undertaking of this kind. The deficient character of superintendence by agency is pro- verbial ; not merely in attentive vigilance, but in the want of power to make those necessary changes which competition forces the British manufacturer to effect immediately. To these considerations we refer not only the inferiority of American machinery, but its ap- parent variety ; different fitetories using different kinds, from very primitive descriptions up (in a few cases) to some of the most im- proved British inventions. It would seem, too, that machines once erected remain there till they are worn out, instead of being got rid of, as with us, for the last novelty ; whilst, by some peculiarity of custom, they are frequently made unchangeable in their nature, so as not to admit the application of a new improvement.

We do not perceive that there is any difficulty in procuring hands in America, but there seems no means of retaining them : the workmen are generally paid by the day, as, "owing to the frequent changes amongst the hands in this country, it is difficult to esta- blish a system of piece-work in some departments, which can be done with the greatest convenience in Great Britain." Of the females, Mr. MONTGOMERY writes- " The great majority of' girls employed in the American factories are farmers' daughters, who come into the factory far, perhaps, a year or two, and frequently for but a few months, until they make a little money to purchase clothes, &c., and then go home. In consequence of this continual changing, there are always great numbers of inexperienced hands in every factory ; and as the drawing process requires the utmost care and attention to make correct work as well as to prevent waste, it is necessary to have the most expert and expe- rienced hands attending the drawing-frames ; but this cannot Rhea) s be ob- tained in this country, as in Great Britain : hence it is more necessary to have some contrivance connected with the machinery here, which will, to a certain extent at least, prevent the work from being injured by inexperience on the part of attendants. All the drawing-frames, therefore, which I have seen in this country, are mounted with a self-acting stop-motion ; so that when an end (sliver) breaks or runs out, that head with which it is connected instantly


In a manufacture where every process is performed by machinery, this frequent change, and the constant irruption of raw hands, will not have such bad effects as in manual operations ; but the custom must prevent the acquisition of that easy and almost unconscious dexterity necessary to excellence in nice processes ; and such scents to be the case in American cotton-thetories. We have Seen in the above extract, it gives rise to a particular check in a machine : it is probable that the more primitive state of' the machines may be partly attributable to this cause. Its one depart- ment it doubles the cost of the labour.

" The drawing-frames in this country," says Mr. MONTGOMERY, " having three single heads, require two girls to attend them; whilst one ii, Great Bri- tain, with six heads, and driven at the same speed, requires no more. Thus a drawing-frame in the latter country, being double the size, produces double the work with the same number of hands."

The economical circumstances of America, which practically forbid the application of immense capitals to undertakings by a few persons, limit each factory to the production of' one kind of goods. This, of course, prevents the use of the material to the best advantage, and compels a greater waste, than where every dif- ferent sort of cotton can be applied to the purpose for which it is best adapted. The water-power, upon which Mr. MONTGOMERY relies so much, also induces an expense, though comparatively a trivial one : the external wheels, 8.4c. are enclosed in a house, to prevent them from being frozen up ; such, however, is the severity of the American winter, that the Works are usually stopped for a time, from the water itself being frozen. From this cir- cumstance, and perhaps advantages of situation, a few factories have begun to try steam-power. It must also be observed, that as population and competition increase, water-power will have to be paid for dearly, (it being, in fact, paid for now in the original pur-

chase.) The rent of water-mills in England is generally such, we believe, as to compel the tenant to work night and day and Sundays, in order to remunerate himself; as he cannot afford to let any part of his power lie idle.

There are other important elements of cost which we trust will prevent the rapid destruction of our principal article of' foreign trade. The erection of factories, the purchase of machinery, and the wages of labour, are all much higher than in Great Britain, Mr. MONTGOMERY prints a variety of elaborate tables upon these points; which have been revised, he says, by many competent per- sons, and of whose accuracy he therefore feels assured. The re- sults are as follows—

Is Great Militia.

The cost of a cotton-factory (supposed to con- tain 128 power-looms and all the subor- dinate machinery) with water-wheels or Is America.

steam-engine respectively, is 2,480 9,166

Machinery for the " preparation department " —that is, for cleaning, carding, and roving...

3,000 4,512 Machinery for the spinning department 1,858 4,907

Dressing and weaving department

1,714 3,0415

— — 9,052 21,630

Deduct cost in Britain


Greater cost of the establishment of a cotton-factory in

America £12,578

This difference is considerable, but is not solely to be mea- sured by the mere amounts. The relative scarcity of capital should be borne in mind; when it may probably be concluded, that the larger sum necessary to erect a cotton-mill in the States, could be raised more readily in Britain than the smaller sum in America.

In the rate of wages there is also, unfortunately, a difference in favour of this country ; though part of it, no doubt, arises from superior skill, enabling some work to be performed with fewer- hands.

Wages in preparation department, for Britain.

s. d. In America.

s. d.

cleaning, carding, &e. per fortnight 18 4 0 ... 52 3 9 Wages in spinning department 25 17 4 46 13 4 Wages in dressing and in caving depart- ments 99 10 5 ... 153 23 General charges; as superintendent, book- keeper, packer, watchmen, &c. 21 4 0 ... 33 10 10

£164 15 9 £285 10 2

There are further calculations which we need not pursue, as - they would have little interest for any save practical men, who will doubtless consult the volume. The upshot of the whole is, that although the Americans work longer hours, and drive their machinery at a greater speed, the Briton, from the lesser cost of buildings and the lower rate of wages, can manufacture cotton cheaper than the American by 19 per cent.; but the lower rate at which the American purchases his material, gives bins a final ad- vantage over us of 3 per cent. This, of course, refers to the par- ticular kind of cotton goods selected for comparison; in which the ratios of value are

Li Gre,it Bitiinn. Is America.

Cost of raw material per yard 2.772 Charges of shipmen t, duty, &c. 271) percent. -762 ...(1 I per cent.) .305 3.534 3.077 Charges of manufacturing 1.600 1900.

5.134d. 4.977d.

Deduct cost of American cotton per yard 4.977 Advantage in favour of America per yard -157d.

Without vouching for the accuracy of' these calculations, and granting that a heavy and cheap article is selected for the above comparison, an approach to equality is startling enough ; for all the elements which now tell in our favour, must, from the nature of things, gradually turn against us. We find that the late monetary and commercial embarrassments in America have caused a reduction of wages ; and emigration from Great Britain must have a shnilar tendency—or, what in this point of view is just time same, procure a superior workman at less cost. As population increases, and the valley of the Mississippi becomes snore densely populated, the outflow both of people and money are likely to diminish its the old provinces on the Atlantic, and both capital and labour to be turned more and more to the cotton-manufacture. Besides which, though bnprovements in the superintendence and working of the American factories cannot be made so rapidly as Mr. MONTGOMERY thinks, they will be made, and that daily ; whilst every nets' step must act injuriously on the British manufacturer. It is also said that the Southern States are beginning to manutheture cotton, and that the Negroes work ex- ceedingly well in the factories. Mr. MONTGOMERY anbws that his information respecting the Southern cotton-manufacture is in- complete ; and states that many entertain doubts as to whethsar that manufacture can ever succeed, from the nature of the climate, and the Northern provinces being already in possession of the field. Our doubts would rather point to the capacity and inclination of the slaves.

To those persons in the maturity or autumn of life, who, for our sins, are at the head of the two great parties in this country, the prospect of a decay, or even of a partial decay in our greatest ma-

nufacture, may be a matter of indifference. "It will last our time," is the comfort of the Sybarite and the trickster. To those who consider a few years nothing in the fife of a nation, and who reflect upon the sufferings of many myriads deprived of employ.

ment—of the slow ruin of capitalists—the derangement of our foreign trade—the consequent inconvenience to the community, deprived of their customary comforts, or stinted in their use—and the danger to be apprehended from starving multitudes driven to -despair—the prospect is gloomy enough. The future, indeed, may

bring with it some counteracting circumstances which cannot now be foreseen; but of the two only remedies that suggest themselves, the repeal of the taxes on materials of manufacture, practically speaking, cannot, and the abolition of the Corn laws will not be granted. The inferiority of the British to the American manufac- turer is calculated at 3 per cent. ; the duty on cotton is estimated at 4f per cent., which, if repealed, would turn the scale in our favour. But the duty on cotton is only one of many taxes fish- lag on the manufacturer : the bricks and timber of which his factory is built, and the materials of which his machinery are constructed, pay heavy duties, as does almost every article he uses in his manufacture. The repeal of these taxes might have been effected by the surplus income without the thorough revision of our financial system we formerly suggested.* With our present revenue, and our present prospects of wars, these repeals arc now out of the question. Talking of wars, by the by— the freight and insurance is estimated to add 121 per cent. to the cost of the cotton. Should a war come, with its consequent increase of these items, let the cotton-manufacturers of Scotland and of the North of England ask themselves what will become of their trade. The effects of a free trade in corn upon the cotton-manufacture would only, of course, be indirect ; showing itself as much in checking rivalry upon the Continent, (for we also have rivals there,) and establishing a connexion with Europe, which would secure us the monopoly of the market till we were fairly undersold; whilst it would add all the expenses of a voyage across the Atlantic to the goods of our American competitors. But the Corn-laws is a subject upon which the talk is exhausted, and the gentlemen manufacturers lack the spirit for action.

Having drawn so largely upon the substance of this volume for its statistics, we will allow our author to speak for himself in those incidental pictured of American life and business-usage we have already alluded to.


It is said that cotton-mills in this country are very liable to take fire; for which I cannot assign any particular cause, at least for such as are heated by steam ; those heated with hot air may be more liable to such accidents, espe- cially when wood is used for fuel. Some of the mills lately built at Lowell lave iron shutters outside the windows, to prevent the communication of tire ileum one mill to another ; and each mill has expensive apparatus fitted up for extinguishing fires—such as forcing-pumps for raising water to a cistern at the top of the mill, from which pipes descend into every. apartment ; and these not only serve to deluge the mill in ertsl of fire, but also to supply each room with water for washing, as every apartment has its water-trough, or what is deno- minated a sink, for the workers to wash their hands and face in,—a most healthy as well as cleanly- operation, which is punctually attended to before every meal, soap being supplied for this purpose by the proprietors. Besides these forcing-pumps and water-pipes inside, a considerable number of the large mills have platforms outside, with ladders extending right over the top of the building ; and in general each factory (particularly in the Eastern district) is furnished with what is called a watch-clock, for the purpose of keeping the -night watehman always on the alert. These clocks resemble a common time- piece with a circular dial made to revolve; and surrounding the dial, about half an inch from the circumference, there are a lumber of small pins, which the watchman is required to shift : but the clock is so constructed, that one pin only can be shifted at certain intervals of time—as, for example, at the end of every half hour. The clock also contains a certain number of springs, each one of which must be lifted before one pin can be shifted ; but as the clock is all enclosed except the dial, there are wires connected with these springs and with each room in the mill ; these wires are also all enclosed, ex- cept at their extremities in the different apartments ; therefore, in order to shift one pin, the watchman requires to go into every room in the mill thr the purpose of pulling each wire separately ; and this Ile must do at the end of every half hour, for if the pins are not shifted at the proper time they can- not he shifted at all : and the superintendent of the works carefully examines these clocks every day, to ascertain whether all the pins have been shifted; by which means he can at once know when the watchman neglects his duty. Some clocks are so constructed that one wire only can he drawn at the end of every five or six minutes, so that when the watchman draws the wire in one room he must wait some time before he can draw the next ; by which means be is kept moving about all the time.

It is somewhat remarkable, that, in general, no such provision is made in the

cotton-factories of' Great Britain for the prevention of fire. Except in a few Instances, there are in that country neither forcing-pumps and water-pipes in- side, nor platforms or ladders outside the mills. Indeed,there are a number of mills in country-places in Scotland that have no night watchman either in winter or summer.


The manufacturers of this country generally Use up a considerable portion of the inferior waste into what is called batting,—that is, after being spread into a card-lap in the usual way, it is put through a breaker-card, which is mounted with a lap-drum ; and when the carded lap has acquired a proper thickness, it is broken off front the drum, and rolled up in paper for the pur- pose of being sold to country-people, or others who may want it, to be after- wards sewed between two plies of cotton cloth, and used instead of blankets. These are then called comforters, and are extensively used in this country both by rich and poor. One good one is certainly superior to a pair of Scotch blankets ; and when neatly covered with printed calico, quilted, and houryl round the edges, they appear extremely neat and cleanly upon a bed. It is somewhat surprising that these comforters are not (at least so far as known to the writer) used in Great Britain ; as poor people might thus have good warm bed-clutLing mud, cheaper than woollen blankets.


I have never known the drawing-frainee in Great Britain cause so much

trouble as those with which I am acquainted in this country, in consequence of the slivers adhering to the supper front-rollers. If the same evil is general in all the factorice, (and 1 know it is in it great many,) I am not surprised that the manufacturers of this country have hot as yet attained to great pet-fiction in the quality of the goods manufactured. Besides the cause above stated, viz.

• "Anatomy of Taxation," Spectator, No. 154; llth June 1831. J4 The Spectator's Key to Political Knowledge, No. 111.—Taxation." (1833.) the double draught in the single roller-beam, there is another, which I have no doubt operates in some measure to produce the same effects—that is, the quan- tity of electricity generated in the carding-rooms. It was formerly stated that the spinning-frames were generally driven from the carding-room, by means of belts passing up through the floor : this, of course, causes a great number of carrying-belts in the card-room ; and these belts produce a great deal of electricity, more so than any thing of the kind I have ever witnessed in any factory in Great Britain. At certain times, the loose fibres lying on any part of the machiuery under these belts will all be standing up on one end, pointing to the belts ; and a small tuft of cotton held by the liand, tvithin two feet of the belts, will, as soon as let go, fly straight up, until it strike the belt, and then fall down to the floor. If a piece of pointed steel is held up to these belts, a current of sparks will instantly issue from its point towards the heft, accompanied by a snapping noise ; end at times the same effect will take place by holding the fingers close to the belt, whilst a certain twitching is expe- rienced, being a succession of slight shocks.


Driving machinery at a high speed does not always meet with the mast favourable regard of practical men in Great Britain, because in that country, where power costs so much, whatever tends to exhaust that power is a matter of some consideration ; but in this country, where water-power is so exten- sively employed, it is of much lees consequence. Besides, the expense of labour being much greater in this country than in Great Britain, the American manufactnrers can only compete successfully with the British by producing a greater quantity of goods in a given time: hence any mechine that admits of being driven at a higher speed, even though it should exhaust the power, Wit does not injure the work, will meet with a more favourable reception in this couutry than in Great Britain.

COST or Limo.

I can speak from experience on this subject, and have no hesitation in assert• ing, that the price of living is higher in this country than in Britain : I know of nothing that is cheaper here but spirits, ten, and tobacco. I have no doubt but in the interior of the country, potatoes, Indian cent, butter-milk, poultry, &c. may be much cheaper ; but in sill flue cities and manufacturing ;duce they are much higher. It will be supposed that flour must be considerably cheaper here than in Great Britain ; but it is not always so, as during these few years past there has been a vast quantity of wheat imported from Great Britain and the Continent of Europe. house-rents are higher here then in Scotland, and fuel is at least triple the price of what it is in Glasgow. All kinds ()I' clothing, are higher, and perticu- larly the making of clothes. The price of nitthing a coat in BoAon is front eight to twelve dollars; as much as would purchan one complete in Glasgow.


The goods manufactured at these works are drillings, jeans, and a variety of striped and coloured goods; the latter are dyed partly in the wool and partly in the yarn. This method of dying in the woe' or the cotton is the simplest and cheapest mode of colouring goods; and I aims not aware that it has ever been tried in Great Britain. By mixing together two or three different co- lours of cotton, they become perfectly incorporated ; and this combination of colours produces a shade which no dyer MI give to yarn : a variety of supe- rior grounds far striped cloths are obtained in this way, which could not be ob. tamed when the whole has been dyed in the yarn.

Besides the practical account of the present state of the cotton- trade in America, there is a short history of its rise and progress. This section of the book contains some statistics, and a variety of curious particulars; but is upon the whole inferior to the first part of the volume. It is a compilation, and not a very skilful one. Mr. MONTGOMERY has the power of clearly expressing his original knowledge, but wants the art to dress up the knowledge of other people.