“In 1776, America didn’t have a single textile mill. There were no spinning mules, no water-powered looms. There were only rumors of what such things might look like and a few nonfunctioning models built from those rumors. Nearly every American woman, except the wealthiest, knew how to spin her own yarn and weave her own cloth, even as across the Atlantic women were moving out of the home and into millwork as England — bent on protecting its export market by safeguarding its trade secrets — industrialized the manufacturing of textiles.
Samuel Slater was 14 when he began working at a cotton-spinning mill in Derbyshire, England. Seven years later, in 1789, he disguised himself as a farmer to pass English customs and board a ship to the United States. When he arrived in America, he got a mechanized loom up and running, then a textile factory and later factory towns, eventually becoming known as both Slater the Traitor and the father of the American Industrial Revolution.”
“A century ago, there were more than 800 businesses related to textile manufacturing in Philadelphia alone; today there are around a hundred.
Christopher Payne has spent much of the past few years photographing more than 20 of the mills that make up what’s left of America’s textile industry.”