George Washington spent a considerable amount of his time during the American Revolution deploring his soldier’s uniforms. A man who liked to design uniforms, he found himself instead simply seeking for a supply of cloth with which to make hunting shirts—or leather from which to make shoes.
That, for Lindsay Schakenbach Regele’s, is the origin point of the story she tells, in her new book Manufacturing Advantage: War, the State, and the Origins of American Industry, 1776-1848. It was that military need for textiles—as well as the more obvious need for guns and ammunition that drove American industrial policy until the Civil War. The need to never rely once again on European imports in time of crisis led the new national government towards what she describes as a “de facto partnership” between government and industry.
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The Blanchard Lathe–one of the manufacturing innovations pioneered in the federal armories