The War of 1812 in the Blackstone Valley
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 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.
Did You Know?
Children as young as age six were hired to work in the textile mills of the Blackstone River Valley. These adolescent workers were employed by the Lonsdale Company, c. 1912. Photos such as this helped lead to the passage of child labor laws.