Born June 9, 1768 – April 21, 1835
Patent #: 4,075x
Samuel Slater introduced the first water-powered cotton mill to the United
States. This invention revolutionized the textile industry and was important
for the Industrial Revolution.
Born in Derbyshire, England, to a prosperous farmer, Slater apprenticed at a mill at age 14. Learning all he could about textile production, in 1789 Slater left for the United States to pursue opportunities in the industry there. The U.S. was still largely agricultural and handicraft methods of textile production still prevailed. No U.S. inventor had yet been successful in building a textile spinning machine, and British law prohibited the export of such machines. In an effort to preserve their dominance in industry, Britain also prohibited the emigration of skilled mechanics. In order to leave the country unnoticed, Slater disguised himself as a farm laborer.