People of Springfield Armory
From 1794 to until its closure in 1968, Springfield Armory was operated by a highly-skilled and diverse workforce. Because of its nature as a high-technology manufacturer for most of its existence, the Armory acted as a magnet for those people interested in cutting-edge engineering, manufacturing, and experimentation. As a state of war ebbed and flowed throughout American history, so too did the number of workers employed at the U.S. Armory at Springfield. Since funding was increased with a declaration of war, workers were brought in at the start, trained, and, as peace drew near, released into the private sector with sought-after skills. This may have had a direct role in the movement of the "American System of Manufacture" from the U.S. Armories where it was developed, out into private manufacturers, which helped launch the Industrial Revolution.
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Thomas Blanchard was born on June 24th, 1788, in Sutton, Massachusetts, near Worcester. His first invention was a tack-making machine which he invented at age eighteen and perfected over the next six years. Soon he was working for Asa Waters, a major contractor in nearby Millbury, producing flintlock muskets supplementing those made at Springfield Armory.
The Superintendents and Commandants of Springfield Armory often exercised a degree of influence that brought marked changes to the Armory, the Nation, and the Industrial World. Among them were inventors, social reformers, and dedicated citizens who wished to leave more than a balanced account book at the Armory. Many of their lasting gifts remain as visible features in Springfield and in modern precision manufacturing.
Did You Know?
Author Charles Dickens toured Springfield Armory’s Hill Shops and Water Shops on his 30th birthday, February 7th, 1842, a year before publication of A Christmas Carol. The first of two visits to America, he and his wife were accompanied by the superintendent and the paymaster. Photograph © Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.