Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Will History Repeat Itself?

It's practically a law among homeschoolers that you study our country's founding, and our family was no exception to that. My kids and I learned all about American life in the late 18th century, including how much our forefathers relied on goods shipped over here from other countries. For many years, early Americans purchased goods such as fabric and books from overseas. Once we had a stable industrial base, however, we were able to make such products here on American soil for purchase by our own people as well as export to others.

These days, it seems as though we are in reverse. I got to thinking about this today as I was cleaning out a storage area in my house, where I stumbled upon what was left of the plastic tableware I bought for a party ten years ago. Specifically, I found about a dozen sturdy blue plastic spoons. They were in a cardboard box marked "Made in the USA." Try finding anything like that now. So much of what is available to us is cheaply made, cheaply bought, and made in China.

The women who lived in early American times made their own clothes, often using imported fabric, but that was long before American fabric mills sprang up in the East and South. I don't have much time to sew anymore, but I'm aware that very little fabric is being made here in the U.S. It's made overseas, and the quality is not as good. The thread count is lower, and I'm noticing that the clothes we buy, particularly knit shirts, do not wear well. They get nubby very quickly, and the shirts become shorter and wider after several washings. That's because they're cut so that the manufacturer can get more items out of a certain amount of cloth.

If something were to happen (say, a war) that prevented all of the imported goods we rely on from getting here, we would be just like the ladies in early American times, pining for the latest bolt of fabric from Europe. It's like we've come full-circle. I think that's called regressing.

1 comment:

Dana said...

I just recently started reading "Founding Mothers" by Cokie Roberts and loved the honor these women were given for the labor they put in to make their own fabric and clothes rather than pay what they thought was an unfair tax to England.

Women literally clothed their family in the fight for liberty.