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Connecticut Industries in the 19th Century


Charles Goodyear
Charles Goodyear

Manufacturing had flourished on a small scale in Connecticut since early colonial times. It became increasingly important after Congress passed the Revenue Act in 1792, which authorized high tariffs on imported manufactured goods and encouraged the development of industry in the United States. In 1788 the first woolen mills in New England were established at Hartford, and soon after, cotton mills were built in Manchester, Vernon, Pomfret, and Jewett City. Inventor Eli Whitney began manufacturing his cotton gins, which revolutionized the economy of the South, at New Haven in 1793. In 1798 he helped develop the modern system of mass production, using interchangeable parts to manufacture firearms at Hamden, near New Haven. Inventor Eli Terry began producing machine-made clocks in the 1790s at Plymouth.

Goodyear


In 1839 Charles Goodyear of Naugatuck discovered a process called vulcanization that made natural rubber stronger, more elastic and resistant to temperature change—a discovery that revolutionized the rubber goods industry.

When foreign trade was cut off during the War of 1812, many New England shippers and traders invested their idle capital in manufacturing. Yankee peddlers developed a market for Connecticut products. They traveled as far as the South and Midwest selling buttons, pins, needles, hats, combs, tinware, brassware, clocks, rifles, tableware, and other items. Railroads and canals encouraged large-scale industry.

The Civil War (1861-1865), with its heavy demand for weapons, munitions and textiles, further stimulated the state’s industrial output. Thousands of European immigrants arrived, providing relatively inexpensive labor for Connecticut’s factories and mills. By the end of the 19th century, Connecticut was predominantly industrial and famous for a variety of products: Colt and Winchester firearms, International silverware, Seth Thomas clocks, Hitchcock chairs, Stanley tools, Royal typewriters, Scovill brass, and a wide range of precision metal goods.

Beginning in 1784, Connecticut had gradually abolished slavery, and during the Civil War, Connecticut strongly supported the Union. The Republican Party, which began as an antislavery party, dominated state politics from the end of the war until 1930. "Connecticut" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia

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