American History 1785 - 1849

United States History Life in the North - The Industrial Revolution

Samuel F. B. Morse had a plan to speed communication. In May of 1844 he tested his idea. A telegraph wire was strung between Baltimore, Maryland and Washington, D. C. This was a distance of forty miles. Using Morse code, Samuel Morse sent a message over the wire. It arrived in seconds. Telegraph was the fastest means of sending words or ideas to people. Turn your message in Morse Code using the box below.
Type in a word or phrase:  

Have the students choose one invention that was made in the late 1700's and the early 1800's. Have them illustrate the invention. Make a time line with the drawings. Here are a few American inventions to get you started.

cotton gin - 1794 coffee pot - 1806 commercial steamboat - 1809
steam powered locomotive - 1830 reaper - 1834 telegraph - 1840
clipper ship - 1840's telegraph - 1844 rubber vulcanization - 1844
sewing machine - 1846 safety pin - 1849 typewriter - 1868
air brake - 1876 telephone - 1876 phonograph - 1880


After the American army introduced the concept of interchangeable parts in the manufacture of  guns, clock makers began producing clocks with this idea. Prior to the Industrial Revolution clocks were made in small shops by hand. Eli Terry realized that only one in every ten American homes had a clock, so he decided to make one that everyone could buy. He started making clocks using interchangeable parts. Have the students make a clock using this method. Have stacks containing "clock parts".

paper plates
paper circle with clock face

Have the students move from stack to stack to assembly their clock. Then ask the following questions:

  • What are some of the benefits of making goods that use interchangeable parts?
  • How did the new method affect craftspeople who worked their won business?
  • Were all the changes brought on by new manufacturing methods good?
  • If you were a clock maker who had spent years learning your trade, what would you think of this new way of making clocks?
  • Which way of making clocks allowed more of them to be sold?

Idea taken from Social Studies Made Simple Frank Schaffer Publication, Inc.



Return to the History Pages