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The History of Industrial Development and Toolmaking in US


 
  1846 - Book of Trades or Circle of the Useful Arts    

It as sometimes been remarked with surprise, that a native of a barbarous country, when shown all the wonders of a European city, such as London or Paris, has manifested very little curiosity regarding the numerous novelties then for the first time in his life, introduced to his notice.

But the apathy displayed by many among ourselves towards a general knowledge of what is going on around us in the world, is still more remarkable, and is too often carried to an extent deserving even of blame.

How many ride carelessly along our public roads, or sail at ease upon our beautiful lakes and rivers, and survey, as they pass on, the fleecy flocks and lowing herds in the rich pastures, or the luxuriant crops ready for the hand of the reaper, and are yet alike ignorant and careless, of the manner in which are formed the carriages or the steam-boats in which they travel, and of the manner in which the flocks and herds are managed, and the grain cultivated, which add, at the time, so much to the beauty of the scenery, and are eventually so necessary for clothing and for food.

And how many walk listlessly about the streets of our busy cities, and see the innumerable wares carried from warehouse to warehouse, or displayed at the windows of the elegant shops, and hear, from the enormous manufactories, the constant noise of machinery, and who yet hardly ever think of inquiring how all these things are made, and how all that machinery is employed, yet inquiries of the kind alluded to, are of very great interest to all classes of people.

Not that it is to be desired that every man should be a Jack of all trades: but certainly it is desirable that every person should have some knowledge of the means by which food, clothing, shelter, and the various conveniences and luxuries of life are supplied to him; a knowledge which will, at the same time, lay open to his view those almost innumerable arts and manufactures which are the sources of the unequalled wealth of this mighty commercial empire.

To furnish an outline of the knowledge I am thus recommending, is the object of the little work I now present you with. I shall not enter very minutely, and at great length, into the nature of the various arts. To do so would require a great many volumes instead of one, to which I mean to limit myself.

But I shall try to make this one do the work of many, and be at the same time plain and easily understood. We shall have the use of plates and woodcuts too, here and there; and these, I trust, will both assist our explanations in the first instance, and render them more easily retained by the memory afterwards.

Lest anything should be found here in disagreement with the reader's personal observations, it may be mentioned, that almost every kind of manufacture is carried on in different ways in different places.

The general routine of all, however, will be found to be the same. And if, after reading the descriptions here given, any one should visit a factory of the kind descended, although he may not find everything exactly as set down, yet will he find his understanding of what goes on greatly facilitated.

The arts are the offspring of the wants of men; and the want which is the earliest and the most urgently felt is the want of food; the arts, therefore, connected with the supply of this want would be early called into existence, and may stand first in our catalogue.

After disposing of those arts, we shall proceed to treat of such as relate to the erection of buildings, the preparation of clothing, and the supplying of the comforts and luxuries of civilized life. In this way our little book will be something of a History of Mankind - exhibiting their dependence upon each other, and their connation with the earth, its elements, and its creatures In a country whose prosperity depends so much upon trade, it is hoped that such a sketch of the various sources of national wealth will meet with a favorable reception.

10/2011


 
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