Studies of the RNA polymerase-binding molecule ppGpp in bacteria and plants have shown that changes to the kinetics of the RNA polymerase can have dramatic biological effects in the short-term as a stress response. Here we describe the reprogramming of the kinetic parameters of the RNAP through mutations arising during laboratory adaptive evolution of Escherichia coli in minimal media. The mutations cause a 10- to 30-fold decrease in open complex stability at a ribosomal promoter and approximately a 10-fold decrease in transcriptional pausing in the his operon. The kinetic changes coincide with large scale transcriptional changes, including strong downregulation of motility, acid-resistance, fimbria, and curlin genes which are observed in site-directed mutants containing the RNA polymerase mutations as well as the evolved strains harboring the mutations. Site-directed mutants also grow 60% faster than the parent strain and convert the carbon-source 15% to 35% more efficiently to biomass. The results show that long-term adjustment of the kinetic parameters of RNA polymerase through mutation can be important for adaptation to a condition.