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ManchesterThis lesson describes the Industrial Revolution in New Hampshire and its impact on one specific area, Manchester.

The mills of Manchester's Amoskeag Manufacturing Company, once one of the largest textile factories in the world, served as a model of planning and progress to the industrialized world. The Amoskeag Factories got their name from the Amoskeag Falls. Amoskeag, in the language of the Penacook Indians, meant "to take small fish." This is what the Indians did when they lived along the banks of this river near the falls. They named the river Merrimack, which means "place of strong current."

Shortly after the American Revolution, another revolution swept through England, then Europe and the United States. In this revolution, the weapons were not guns, but machines. The invention of carding and spinning machines brought about the industrial revolution in the English textile industry. The first large-scale textile factories were built during the late 1700s in Manchester, England. Machines did the work once done by human hands. Greater volume of goods could be manufactured. A product was made in one place, the factory. Each factory worker did one task in the process.

The most dramatic example of the Industrial Revolution in New Hampshire occurred in Manchester, with the development of Amoskeag Mills. In 1809, the Amoskeag Cotton & Wool Manufacturing Company was formed. At first, there were no looms and cotton and wool were woven in local homes. Weavers earned 30¢ per day. In 1839, the Amoskeag Manufacturing Company was formed by six men. The New Hampshire legislature appropriated $1 million to further develop this company. Mills were built and machines were installed.

Manchester was designed and built by the company's owners. Aspects of their community plan were: (1) all machines and tools needed were made at the site in a foundry and machine shop built by the company; (2) bricks used to build the mills came from the company brickyard; (3) a city was planned parallel and perpendicular to the river; and (4) special provisions were made for employees.

The fact that there were frequent injuries and deaths in the mills points out the cruel realities of the Industrial Revolution. There were long hours, and child labor was common.

During the Civil War, there was a scarcity of Southern-grown cotton, so Amoskeag turned its production to making 25,000 muskets for the war. After the war, Amoskeag prospered. By 1912, the mills produced 50 miles of woven cloth per hour. Various people worked in the mills. The first workers came from farms in New Hampshire. As the need for labor increased, the company lured French Canadians, then Greek, German, Swedish and Polish immigrants in the early l900s. Women comprised half of the work force.

Threatened by cheap labor in the South, Amoskeag officials increased hours, and decreased pay. In 1922, the workers called a strike, idling the mills for nine months. Workers, out of economic necessity, had to go back to work without winning concessions. The economic situation became worse because of the Depression of the 1930s. On Christmas Eve, 1935, the mills closed. The industry that had sustained the city for a century were gone.

The last yard of cotton was woven in Manchester in March, 1975.


1. To show the effect of the Industrial Revolution on New Hampshire as seen through its impact on one area--Manchester.

2. To help students understand how ways of earning a living were changed by the Industrial Revolution.

3. To help students understand the influence an industry or company can have on a community.

4. To increase student awareness of the long history of the Amoskeag Mills.

5. To make students aware of economic and geographic factors that may influence a company's development.

6. To build an understanding of Manchester's present status based on a knowledge of the city's past.


1. Discuss with students the ways in which people earn their living in their community. What factories are located in the community?

2. List the differences involved in producing goods by hand and through the factory system. Review the class discussion following "Work In Colonial Times."

3. Define the term "life-style." Have students comment on their "life-styles."

4. Locate Manchester, Concord, and the Merrimack River on a map.

5. Discuss: what does revolution mean? What was the American Revolution? What do you think the Industrial Revolution was?


1. Pretend that you live in colonial times. State how you obtained your goods and clothing and housing. Describe how you might have earned a livelihood.

2. Do further research into the history of Manchester and the development of the Amoskeag Manufacturing Company.

3. Pretend that you were a New Hampshire farmer. Dramatize your feelings about leaving the farm and going to work in "the city."

4. Invite people to class who have worked in the Amoskeag Mills or in factories in your community. Have them discuss their jobs and work experiences.

5. Dramatize a possible job in a factory system. State how you might feel about doing one job over and over again in the overall manufacturing process. What are the advantages and disadvantages of such a system?

6. Imagine that you're a young worker in the Amoskeag Mill in the 1850s or 1860s. Write a letter to a friend in another city, describing the good and bad points of your job in the mill. How would you like working 12 hours a day? Would you like to live so close to the mill? What do you think of the benefits the company provided?

7. What was the role of women during the Industrial Revolution? Discuss the impact of working women on the economy. What effect might the working woman have had on the family unit?

8. Why might ethnic groups leave their home area to work in a factory? Brainstorm a list of reasons for moving from a home area.

9. Build a model of the city of Manchester. Demonstrate the relationship of Amoskeag Mills to the city in this model.

10. As an employed worker, what conditions might cause you to strike? Write up a list of grievances. Have a spokesperson present these grievances to the class.

11. Write a newspaper headline and article describing the closing of the Amoskeag Mills.

12. Review what happened to the factory buildings in Manchester after the Amoskeag Company closed. Are there mills in your town that have been converted to other uses? Should old factory buildings be preserved? Why or why not?

13. Arrange a field trip to a factory in or near your town.

14. Design, as a class, a model city. How would people earn a living? What provisions would you make for employees? What long-range plans would you have for your city? What other considerations should go into the design?

  • Amoskeag
  • carding
  • foundry
  • Merrimack
  • spinning
  • labor
  • Industrial Revolution
  • loom
  • strike
  • division of labor
  • canal
  • Depression
  • specialization
  • lock
  • economy
  • Amoskeag Falls
  • Merrimack River
  • Lowell, Mass.
  • Manchester
  • Concord
  • Penacook Indians
  • spinner
  • Germans
  • Samuel Blodgett
  • weaver
  • Swedes
  • factory worker
  • Poles
  • carpenter
  • French-Canadians
  • blacksmith
  • Greeks

Late 1700s First large-scale textile factories built, Manchester, England.
1809 Amoskeag Cotton & Wool Mfg. Company formed in Manchester.
1839 Amoskeag Manufacturing Company formed; state appropriation received.

Amoskeag Mfg. Company following developmental plan devised by company owners.
1851 Amoskeag wins prize at Worlds Fair.

Amoskeag makes muskets for Civil War.
By 1870 15,000 French-Canadians in Manchester.
1912 Amoskeag produces 50 miles of woven cloth per hour.

Early 1900s
Greek, German, Swedish, Polish immigrants arrive in Manchester.
1922 Workers strike.
1935 Mills close.
1975 Last yard of cotton woven in Manchester.


© 2002 New Hampshire PBS