The apprentice system in colonial America began as a way for young men to learn valuable trade skills from experienced artisans and mechanics and soon flourished into a fascinating and essential social institution. Benjamin Franklin
got his start in life as an apprentice, as did Mark Twain
, Horace Greeley
, William Dean Howells, William Lloyd Garrison
, and many other famous Americans. But the Industrial Revolution
brought with it radical changes in the lives of craft apprentices. In this book, W. J. Rorabaugh has woven an intriguing collection of case histories, gleaned from numerous letters, diaries, and memoirs, into a narrative that examines the varied experiences of individual apprentices and documents the massive changes wrought by the Industrial Revolution.
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Benjamin Franklin was America's most famous scientist, a successful businessman, and its chief diplomat during the Revolution. Samuel Clemens, best known as Mark Twain, was America's foremost writer and lecturer during the late nineteenth century. William Lloyd Garrison was a free black in Massachusetts who published an abolitionist newspaper, The Liberator, until after the Civil War. The First Industrial Revolution introduced the use of power, from falling water and steam, as the motive force behind large-scale machinery in factories.