The Machine Makers - Research Article from Development of the Industrial U.S. Reference Library

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The American System

Eli Whitney and the American System

Pioneering American industrial inventor Eli Whitney (1765–1825) was already renowned for his labor-saving cotton gin when he became interested in the principles of mass production. (For more information on the cotton gin, see later in this chapter.) In late 1798 Whitney made the bold proposal to the U.S. government that he would manufacture four thousand muskets (a type of gun) in less than two years. At that time guns were constructed one at a time, with each part made individually and fitted to the connecting part. No single craftsman would be able to make so many guns in a lifetime.

Whitney had invented a system of milling (cutting and shaping) uniform parts of a musket in quantity, then assembling muskets from the parts. In 1799 he built and equipped a water-powered factory on the Mill River in Connecticut, where...

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This section contains 3,805 words
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Development of the Industrial U.S. Reference Library
The Machine Makers from Development of the Industrial U.S. Reference Library. ©2005-2006 by U•X•L. U•X•L is an imprint of Thomson Gale, a division of Thomson Learning, Inc. All rights reserved.
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