Factory Owners - Robert Owen

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Robert Owen was born on the 14th May 1771. His father sent him to work at a drapery in Lincolnshire at the age of ten. He spent three years in Stamford but then moved to London. He stayed in that job until 1787 when he found work at a large drapery in Manchester. He was in Manchester when he heard about the success Richard Arkwright was having at a textile factory in Cromford. At age just nineteen, Owen borrowed £100 and set up his own business spinning mules with an engineer called John Jones. The partnership with Jones came to an end in 1792 and Owen found work as a manager of Peter Drinkwater’s spinning factory. As the manager, Owen met a lot of businessmen involved in the textile industry. David Dale, owner of Chorton Twist Company in Scotland met with Robert Owen and the two became great friends. In 1799, Robert married David’s daughter, Caroline. With the financial support of several businessmen from Manchester, Owen purchased Dale's four textile factories in New Lanark for £60,000. Under Owen's control, the Chorton Twist Company expanded rapidly. However, Robert Owen was not only concerned with making money; he was also interested in creating a new type of community at New Lanark. Owen believed that a person's character is formed by the effects of their environment. Owen was convinced that if he created the right environment, he could produce rational, good and humane people. Owen argued that people were naturally good but they were corrupted by the harsh way they were treated. For example, Owen was a strong opponent of physical punishment in schools and factories and immediately banned its use in New Lanark. One of the first decisions took when he became owner of New Lanark was to order the building of a school. Owen was convinced that education was crucially important in developing the type of person he wanted. When Owen arrived at New Lanark children

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