*The Dawn of Innovation*

That is the new book by Charles Morris and the subtitle is The First American Industrial Revolution.  Excerpt:

The overwhelming proportion of American mechanization efforts went into basic processing industries, not precision manufacturing.  Food and lumber processors were 60 percent of all power-using manufacturing industries in 1869.  Add textiles, paper, and primary metal industries like smelting, and the number rises to 90 percent.   Industries that would plausibly lend themselves to armory practice methods — fabricated metal products, furniture, machinery, and instruments — accounted for only 7.5 percent of 1869 manufacturing power demand.

…Mid-Century America was still a predominantly agricultural country.  On the eve of the Civil War, only 16 percent of the workforce was in manufacturing.  They worked in grain milling, meatpacking, lard refining, turning logs into planks and beams, iron smelting and forging, and making steam engines and steamboats, vats and piping, locomotives, reapers and mowers, carriages, stoves, cotton and woolen cloth, shoes, saddles and harnesses, and workaday tools.  These were the industries in which America’s comparative advantage loomed largest and were the ones that dominated American output.  It was the drive to mass scale in those industries, by a wide variety of strategies and methods, that was the real American system, or perhaps the American ideology, of manufacturing.



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