When James Haskell founded his silk company in Westbrook in 1874, American silk mills were proliferating.
Silk manufacturing, which had always been a handcraft, was a mechanized industry by the post Civil War years, powered by American inventions.
By the late 19th century, Haskell and others relied primarily on Japanese raw silk (filament), turning out previously unimaginable quantities of affordable silk goods and ending American reliance on expensive imports.
Before the Civil War, however, American interest in silk production was virtually a cottage industry.
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