The War of 1812 in the Blackstone Valley

RHiX522 Image of Pawtucket Falls, 1815

Pawtucket Bridge and Falls. Watercolor and ink on paper ca. 1815. (RHiX522)

Rhode Island Historical Society

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News Release Date: August 31, 2012
Contact: Kevin Klyberg, (401) 762-0250

New exhibit "The War of 1812 and the Development of the Blackstone Valley" opens September 3
On Labor Day, September 3, the Museum of Work and Culture will open a new exhibit "The War of 1812 and the Development of the Blackstone Valley." The exhibit discusses how the War of 1812 played a major role in the industrialization of the Blackstone Valley. This exhibit was created with funding from the John H. Chafee Blackstone River Valley National Heritage Corridor Commission, and produced in partnership between the Rhode Island Historical Society, the Old Slater Mill Association, and the Corridor Commission. The exhibit will be on display at the Museum of Work and Culture through Veterans Day, and is part of the RIHS' exploration of Rhode Island at War.

The opening of the exhibit is part of the Museum and Work and Culture's 14th Annual Labor Day Celebration. The Museum will be open for free from 9:30 am to 4:00pm on September 3.

According to National Park Ranger Kevin Klyberg from the Corridor Commission "while obviously no battles were fought here, the War of 1812 and the embargoes leading up to the war played a key role in launching the first textile industry boom in the Blackstone Valley, and therefore the United States.

"The ban on importation of textiles from Europe, beginning in 1807," Klyberg said," inspired the creation of dozens of new textile mills across the Blackstone Valley. Many of these mills failed when the war ended, and imports once again began to flow into the nation. However, several key textile empires got their start during this period, and three of the villages that are the basis for a proposed new National Park in the Blackstone Valley saw their first textile mills built in this time frame (Slatersville: 1807, Whitinsville: 1809, Ashton: 1810). In many ways," Klyberg concluded, "the cotton mill boom of this era is what really made the Industrial Revolution revolutionary, as it expanded the textile industry beyond a handful of sites, and made it an integrated part of the Southern New England landscape.

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