Page images

semer's process was developed in 1856, but so much time was occupied in perfecting the system that the world's product of steel in 1867 was less than 500,000 tons, of which about 20,000 tons were produced in the United States. By 1870, however, that process had become so generally adopted that our own production was 68,750 tons. This output has since grown with such marvelous rapidity that in 1875 it reached 389,799 tons; in 1880, 1,247,335 tons; in 1890, 4,277,071 tons; in 1900, 10,188,329 tons; and in 1910 26,094,919 tons.

The United States has thus become the world's chief producer of steel. In fact, this country now produces approximately one-half of the world's steel, the other chief steel-producing countries being Germany, the United Kingdom, and Belgium. During the last 20 years the United States has made much greater gains, proportionately, in the manufacture of iron and steel than any other country, though Germany's recent gains have brought that country abreast and sometimes in advance of Great Britain, formerly the leading iron and steel-producing country of Europe. The value of the principal manufactures of iron and steel in the United States, as reported by the census, grew from less than $300,000,000 in 1880 to $1,377,000,000 in 1910; the number of persons employed in blast furnaces, steel works and rolling mills, from 141,000 in 1880 to 278,505 in 1910; the wages paid, from $55,500,000 in 1880 to $187,

808,000 in 1910; and the capital invested, from $231,000,000 in 1880 to $1,492,316,000 in 1910. These detailed figures include only blast furnaces, steel works, and rolling mills, and not the numerous industries handling the material as it passes further along in the stages of development - such as the making of bolts, nuts, nails, spikes, iron and steel pipe, the various classes of machinery utilized in industries and transportation, and the thousands of requirements of daily life.

[ocr errors]

So rapidly has the iron and steel industry developed in the United States that manufactures of iron and steel have become the largest single item in our export trade, with the exception of the one natural product — raw cotton - of which we practically have a world monopoly. The value of iron and steel manufactures exported now approximates $350,000,000 per annum, while that of meats, which formerly exceeded $200,000,000, has fallen materially below that figure and wheat and flour, which formerly approximated $250,000,000 in favorable years, have now taken a much lower rank among the great articles of exportation, amounting to about one-half — in many cases less than half — the value of iron and steel manufactures exported.

Even these figures, which show enormous increases in the valuation of iron and steel production and exportation, fail to indicate their quantitative growth, since the enormous increase in production, coupled with the im


proved facilities of manufacture and transportation, has resulted in much lower prices; and, as a consequence, a given number of dollars' worth of iron and steel produced or exported represents now a much larger quantity than formerly. Steel rails, which were valued at $166 per ton in 1867 and at $107 per ton in 1870, had by 1880 fallen to $68; in 1890, to $32, and during the last decade have averaged about $28 per ton. A comparison of the value of product or of the commercial movements at the present time with those of earlier periods in the history of iron and steel production fails to indicate the full measure of growth in quantities, owing to the fact just hinted at the fact that a dollar's worth of steel or of steel products at the present time represents from two to five times as much as it did in the decade ending with 1880 and fully double that of the decennial period ending with 1890.

This great growth in the production of iron and steel in the United States has been due, not merely to the development of the process of steel making, but to the cheapening of the processes of mining, smelting, and manufacture. In no line of industry has the use of machinery for performing work formerly done by hand been more rapidly extended than in the iron and steel industry. Enormous sums of money have been invested, not only in manufacturing lines, but in experiments for developing and adopting machinery to production in great


quantities and at lower cost of the various types of manufactures produced therefrom; while the discovery and development of enormous beds of iron ore lying near the surface and, fortunately also, near to water transportation aided greatly in the development of the industry. The great iron mines of the Lake Superior region, - vast iron ore deposits of the Lake Superior region, lying almost at the surface of the earth and within easy reach of water transportation on the Lakes Lakes - supply at a very low cost the ore which is carried across the Lakes to the section in which great quantities of coal were available (Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, and Pennsylvania). To this enormous natural advantage was added the use of huge machines for handling the material both in its natural state and in the various processes through which it must pass in its transformation into manufactures. Thus the production of steel and manufactures thereof was greatly cheapened, while the quality of the product greatly improved. Of pig iron, the basis of all iron and steel industries, the quantity produced in the United States amounted to but 1,666,000 tons in 1870, and to 27,250,000 tons in 1910, making the United States not only the world's chief producer of pig iron but, in fact, the producer of nearly one-half of the entire output of the world. Cheap iron ore, cheap coal, and cheap transportation to bring them into conjunction, coupled with the use of machinery of

the most efficient type at every stage of manufacture, have made the United States the world's greatest producer of iron and steel and their manufactures. And the vast supplies of raw material and fuel yet available, in conjunction with the excellent facilities already mentioned, assure an indefinite continuation of our distinction as the world's great producer of this class of articles. And this is the more important for the great increase that has come in the use of iron and steel in construction, transportation, and the daily requirements of life the world over. The big buildings in the world's great cities are now being constructed with steel frames. Steel has almost entirely replaced wood in the construction of bridges for railways and the heavier forms of traffic on streets and highways, while in the more numerous though less striking daily requirements steel is being more and more utilized to the exclusion of the classes of material formerly used at greater cost and with less durability.

Other branches of production and manufacture in which the United States has made remarkable progress are those of copper, petroleum, leather, and cotton manufactures. The same close study of the natural supplies of the country which brought about the increase in iron and steel production has developed a great copper industry equal to that of all the remainder of the world combined. The United States now produces from

[ocr errors]

its mines practically one-half the copper of the world, and in addition to this receives from adjacent countries large quantities of copper to be manipulated in the great manufacturing establishments which have grown up as a result of our own vast supplies of copper. The quantity of copper produced in the United States in 1870 amounted to but 12,600 tons and in 1880, to 27,000 tons; but by 1890 it had grown to 116,000 tons, by 1900 to 271,000 tons, and by 1910 to 482,000 tons. This great supply of the raw material developed in the same section in which the great iron ore deposits were found the section fronting the Great Lakes coupled again with cheap transportation to bring the raw material in touch with the section of the country producing great quantities of coal at low cost. rendered possible the development of a great copper industry in the United States, one upon which the world now relies for the copper which (through the recent development in the use of electricity in transportation and the industries) it is now demanding in constantly increasing quantities. This reliance of the world upon the United States for its copper is illustrated by the fact that the quantity of copper exported

grew from 333,000,000 pounds of pigs, ingots and bars in 1900 to 639,000,000 in 1910, and the value from about $55,750,000 in 1900 to about $83,660,000 in 1910; though in one earlier year (1908) the quantity exported was over 700,000,000 pounds


and the value over $100,000,000. The development of the copper manufacturing industries of the United States and the high qualities of the smelting and refining establishments built up in the meantime have been recognized in a very practical way by other parts of the world, which are now sending here large quantities, not only of the crude material to be smelted, but of the material in the more advanced state to be refined. Millions of dollars' worth of copper are now imported every year, chiefly from Canada and Mexico, and in some years more than $30,000,000 worth of pigs, ingots, bars, etc., are imported into the United States chiefly from the European countries and such distant points as Australia, Peru and Japan, to be refined and the more valuable metal extracted in that process. As a consequence of these developments of the great copper industry, we are distributing to the world nearly $100,000,000 worth of copper per annum, and the smelting and refining works alone of the copper industry give employment to 15,628 men, with wages amounting to $13,396,000 per annum, and turning out a product valued in 1910 at $378,806,000.

The cotton and woolen industries are of an earlier beginning, showing, perhaps, less marked development in recent years than is the case with those already mentioned. The cotton manufacturing establishments of the United States employed 387,000 wage earners in 1910, as against 185,000 in


1880; paid them $133,000,000 in 1910, as against $45,500,000 in 1880, and turned out $628,000,000 worth of products in 1910, as against $211,000,000 in 1880. The amount of capital invested in the cotton goods establishments was $822,000,000 in 1910, as against $220,000,000 in 1880; the number of establishments was 1,324 in 1910, as against 1,005 in 1880, the most striking development of the period being in the size of the establishments, the capital invested, and the value of the product. From these figures it will be noted that the number of establishments increased but slowly from 1880 to 1910, the figures being in 1910 but 30 per cent. over those of 1880, while the capital invested increased from $220,000,000 in 1880 to $822,000,000 in 1910 or nearly 300 per cent.; the number of wage earners employed, from 185,472 to 378,880 or about 100 per cent.; and the value of the products, from $210,950,383 to $628,392,010, or about 200 per cent. The most striking characteristic of the cotton manufacturing industry in recent years is the gradual extension of that industry from the Northern to the Southern States. Plant the factory beside the farm," was the advice of William McKinley to the industrial interests of the United States and reiterated by him at every opportunity. And his advice has been literally followed by the extension of the cotton manufacturing industries to the South, which has literally planted the factory beside the cotton field and the coal mine. The


number of spindles in the cotton factories of the Northern States in 1880 was 10,092,000 and in 1910 17,217,000; while in the Southern States the number in 1880 was but 561,000 and in 1910 10,801,000. Thus the number in the Northern States increased only about 70 per cent. from 1880 to 1910, while in the Southern States there was an increase of nearly 2,000 per cent. Even a comparison of conditions in 1910 with those of 1900 shows a much more rapid gain in the Southern States, the figures for 1900 being: in the Northern States, 15,104,000, as against 17,217,000 in 1910; in the Southern States 4,368,000 in 1900, as against 10,801,000 in 1910, an increase during the ten years in the Northern States of but 15 per cent., and in the Southern States of about 150 per cent. Cheap cotton, cheap coal, cheap transportation, and cheap labor offer the explanation of the relatively more rapid growth of the cotton industry in the South. The cost of transporting the cotton from the place of production to the manufacturing establishment is minimized as compared with transporting it to the Northern States. The cost of coal for producing power is low, much lower than that which is required in the manufacturing establishments at the North, which are not able to rely wholly upon water power; while labor in the South is plentiful and obtainable at somewhat lower rates than in the North.

With all the development of the cotton industry in the United States, how

ever, the value of the exports is but trifling when compared with the production or with the value of other lines of manufactures exported. This is due partly to the active competition of the great cotton manufacturing countries of Europe, which, in view of the small cost of transporting a raw material so easily transported as cotton, are able to buy their raw cotton from the United States, transport it across the ocean, manufacture it with the cheap labor obtainable in that part of the world, and put it into the markets of the cotton goods importing countries of the world at very little cost. Besides, the fact that they are manufacturing chiefly for foreign markets leads them to exercise more care in making the material in the form required by those markets than is the case in the United States, which manufactures primarily for domestic supply. In the case of European countries, England especially, a large proportion of the cotton goods manufaetured are for the markets of foreign countries, chiefly the Tropics and the Orient, where light weights and special weights and patterns are required. In the United States a very large proportion of the cotton manufactured is destined for domestic markets, which require in this temperate zone climate comparatively heavy goods and goods made to suit the tastes and habits of Americans and are not, therefore, suited to the requirements, tastes and habits of that great cotton goods importing sec

« PreviousContinue »