A Companion to American Technology by Carroll Pursell

By Carroll Pursell

A spouse to American Technology is a groundbreaking selection of unique essays that study the hard-to-define phenomenon of “technology” in the United States.

  • 22 unique essays via professional students hide an important positive aspects of yank know-how, together with advancements in autos, tv, and computing
  • Analyzes the ways that applied sciences are prepared, reminiscent of within the engineering career, executive, medication and agriculture
  • Includes discussions of the way applied sciences have interaction with race, gender, category, and different organizing constructions in American society

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Artisans skilled in working with both their hands and minds gained a prominent place in colonial society, quite unlike the low prestige accorded them today. The American pattern axe and the Kentucky rifle were strikingly successful innovations made by TECHNOLOGY IN COLONIAL NORTH AMERICA 27 artisans responding to the American environment with a high standard of skill. However, the unskilled sometimes made their presence felt. South Carolinians had added naval stores to their exports to Britain in the late seventeenth century, but lost this market to Baltic suppliers because of the poor quality of their products arising from the inexperience of colonial artisans, who were more successful at achieving quantity rather than quality production.

Difficulties also arose in organizing the talents of individual artisans into a production process that required teamwork, or, as in tending a blast furnace, disciplined attendance over many weeks or months. Tools were common in everyday life in almost every colonial household, and by the late eighteenth century almost every village on a watercourse had mills. Young people gained experience with the mechanical arts early in life. The widespread interest in tinkering helped lay the foundation for rapid industrialization in the early republic.

Jared Eliot could accurately describe the visible processes carried out at his son’s ironworks, but floundered badly in trying to explain the chemical changes they effected. Colonial leaders knew that successful transfer of technique depended on bringing experienced artisans, not just theories or written instructions, across the Atlantic, and offered inducements to attract artisans with the skills that their communities needed. Nevertheless, difficulties arose in the transfer of technique when artisans encountered unfamiliar natural resources, such as the red oak Massachusetts shipwrights used instead of white.

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