Eli Whitney (1765-1825) was a great American inventer. He created a system of standardization in machinery and production. The British and French made fun of him and his ideas, saying it denied the craftsman's individuality, which it did. Immigrants to the U.S. were able to purchase land quickly, in a mater of a few years. They could not do this working in the manufactruing industry, they had to work the land. Whitney saw this and in turn developed machinery to make stuff more efficiently, by reducing man hours. His system was called the "American System", he used it first in his firearms factory.
I am reading A History of the American People, and just came across Eli Whitney and thought of this thread and the manufacturing of nails question. The author, I believe, was suggesting American industry was a leading force in manufacturing and capitalism. And leading the way in making nails and many other items.