colonies - settlers bring technology, knowledge from home countries;

New World - different geography, geology;

Need new skills.


1750 about 90% of colonial population at least part-time farmers.

access to new crops, corn

rapid population growth - about doubled every 25 years.

plow.  Seeding.  Weeding.  Harvesting, threshing,

adaptations – axe, fencing;

wood – vital resource; building, fuel, chemical manufacture, tools, transport.

East Coast deforestation;

Shipbuilding - shipwrights, carpenters, blacksmiths, instrument makers, painters, ropemakers and sailmakers;

sawmills, run by waterpower.

Millwrights’ knowledge –skills of carpenter, mason, stonecutter, blacksmith, wheelwright and surveyor.

by 1820s, one water-driven mill for every 142 New Yorkers.

15 horsepower. 


Lack of resources - short on people;


small crafts - blacksmith, carpenters, glass blower, barrel making, stonemason, tanner.


- NY and Philly under 100,000 people – London past one million.


David Rittenhouse clockmaker, scientific instrument maker; orreries 1760s.


Transport – 1750s, six 18-hour days from New York to Boston.

1790s turnpikes, 1808 National Road (doesn’t reach St. Louis until 1850)

Conestoga wagons.

transport costs 29% of selling price of flour from wheat grown in Shenandoah Valley & sold in Alexandria, VA 80 miles distant.


philosophy of mercantilism

1675 50 sawmills in Massachusetts alone;

Furs.  Fish.

mid-1700s, more ironmaking establishments in American colonies than in Britain itself.

Blast furnace

"pig iron"

wrought iron


1700 colonies 1,500 tons of iron; 1775, 30,000 tons.


1750, Parliament Iron Act - removed all duty taxes on bar iron & pig iron brought from colonies into England; second, prohibited colonists from building any new mills to produce finished metal products.

"A colonist cannot make a button or horseshoe without some sooty ironmonger in Britain bawling & squawling that he's being robbed."

1764 fifty Boston merchants agreed to stop wearing fancy imported lace; mechanics pledged to wear only aprons made in Mass.

"make American and buy American" movements

1772, Philly china factory, glass factory & paper factory.   


- Continental Congress resolutions encouraging build-up of domestic industry;

encouragement for making firearms, saltpeter & sulphur,

Pennsylvania rifle;

one shipment alone, French sent 21,000 muskets & over 100,000 pounds of gunpowder.