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and a very considerable one in the
wages paid for farm labor. The as-
sessed value of property in the United
States in 1909 was:

$484,350,190 Arizona

82,684,062 Arkansas

374,845,239 California

2,438,656,544 Colorado

400,671,647 Connecticut

922,071,592 Delaware

86,306,694 Florida

159,390,230 Georgia

723,654,331 Idaho

120,815,434 Illinois

2,158,648,450 Indiana

1,776,132,096 Iowa

487,221,300 Kansas

2,510,757,607 Kentucky

559,157,013 Louisiana

523,800,478 Maine

428,212,465 Maryland

820,831,339 Massachusetts

4,770,558,782 Michigan

1,734,100,000 Minnesota


New Hampshire.
New Jersey
New Mexico
New York ...
North Carolina
North Dakota
Rhode Island
South Carolina
South Dakota
West Virginia

$393, 297, 173 1,482,676,696 398,990,000

79,610,202 349,219,335 1,949,687,287

63,724,839 9,822,251,554


278,400,230 2,352,680,824


694,727,632 5,361,177,610

511,630,520 271,106,302 321,070,665

444,186,729 2,306,648,129

172,526,155 185,826,789 577,750,407 790,419,826 1,072,508,128 2,602,549,798 186,157,274*




The growth of wealth since 1850 - Difficulty of exact comparisons Statistics of the Department of Commerce

and Labor — Our industrial advance Railroad expansion - Growth in exports and imports – Multiplication of savings banks - Temporary setback to National prosperity — The problem of economic distribution - The concentration of wealth Its National and State control.

The increase in the gross amount of average annual per capita additions to wealth in the United States in the our wealth were never less than $30. generation following the close of the Computed for various census estiCivil War and the average annual ac

* In addition to the authorities already cited, cumulations per capita furnish con

the following should be consulted: M. G. Mulclusive evidence of a wonderful Na- hall, Dictionary of Statistics (London, 1884) and tional growth. Save for the break be

Industries and Wealth of Nations (London, 1896);

Hunt's Merchants' Magazine and Commerical Retween 1860 and 1865, there was a

view (63 vols., New York, 1839–1870); James steadily accelerated economic growth Curtis Ballagh (ed.), Economic History, 1865since 1850. Such fluctuations as did

1909, vol. vi. of The South in the Building of the

Nation (12 vols., Richmond, 1909); H. A. Hilary occur were generally slight; on the (ed.), Why the Solid South? or Reconstruction whole, the record was one of extra

and Its Results (Baltimore, 1890); United States

1870--1880-1890-1900–1910); ordinary advance. Since 1865 the

E. L. Bogart, Economic History of the United VOL X-21

mates, they were: 1860 to 1870, $22.56; States Bureau of Statistics, Depart1870 to 1880, $39.65; 1880 to 1890, ment of Commerce and Labor. Some $34.69; 1890 to 1900, $30.42; 1900 to of these afford a good general view of 1904, $57.42.

the wealth of the people of the United It is impossible to make exact com- States in various forms at different parisons of the wealth statistics as re- dates. In 1850 the total wealth was ported by the different census bureaus, $7,135,780,000; in 1880, $42,642,000,because the various methods employed 000; in 1900, $88,517,306,775; in 1904, preclude any uniformity in results. $107,104,211,917. In 1850 the wealth To a certain extent this applies to per capita was $307.67; in 1880, nearly every census, but it is especi- $850.20; in 1900, $1,164.79; in 1910, ally true of those of 1850, 1860, and $1,319.11. The value of farm products 1870. In discussing this matter, Car- was $2,212,540,927 in 1880, $3,764,roll D. Wright, the Commissioner of 177,706 in 1900, and $8,760,000,000 in Labor in charge of this branch of the 1910. The value of manufactured census work for 1890, said: “ These products was $1,019,106,616 in 1850, admitted differences of method pur- $5,359,579,191 in 1880, $13,014,287,498 sued in reaching the figures of true

in 1900, and $14,802,147,087 in 1910. valuation for the several census

The wealth of the country, measured periods, and the temporary character by its productivity and accumulations, of the Census office, of themselves pre

grew with such amazing rapidity in clude any attempt of one census to

the quarter of a century preceding revise the figures of a previous one;

1912 that the United States attained and the figures as published, if not so

to a position where it was not only accurate as desired, can be accepted practically independent of the rest of with safety as showing in a general the world in all the essential requireway a continuous increase in the

ments of living, but was able even to wealth of the nation, the exact propor- help supply the needs of the other tions of which cannot be measured." *

nations. Agricultural crops increased The most reliable figures are un

steadily in size and value, with only doubtedly given out by the United

here and there an exception. The bulk States (New York, 1907); C. M. Depew (ed.), One Hundred Years of American Commerce (2

of agriculture at the end of this period vols., New York, 1895); P. A. Bruce, Rise of the was larger than ever before. Coal New South (Philadelphia, 1906); The Manufac

production, which in 1899 exceeded turers' Record (Baltimore, 1890–1909); E. E. Sparkes, The Expansion of the American People,

that of Great Britain, increased actuSocial and Territorial (Chicago, 1900); William ally and relatively in comparison with G. Moody, Land and Labor in the United States

its closest rival during the following (New York, 1883); Francis A. Walker, Discussions in Statistics and Economics (2 vols., New decade. In the same way the producYork, 1899).

tion of pig-iron and steel increased * Report on Wealth, Debt and Taxation of the Eleventh Census, 1890, pt. ii., p. 11.

until the amounts surpassed the com

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ten years.

bined output of Great Britain and wheat and cotton a large surplus was Germany. In other industries the ad annually sent to foreign markets, but

was equally marvelous - in most of the other cereals were conmany instances over 100 per cent. in sumed at home. Dairy products were

almost entirely consumed for home Railroad mileage increased until at needs. Domestic industry, the interthe opening of the century it was state or the inter-sectional exchange 193,345 miles — 40 per cent. of the of products and money, far exceeded world's total. In 1910 it had grown to in amount and value that which fed the 239,991 miles. The gross receipts of foreign market. The vast accumulathe operating roads in 1910 exceeded tion of wealth from all sources re$2,800,000,000. Our exports, which mained at home for the most part, from 1891 to 1895 (both inclusive) in- greatly enriching the Nation. Much creased 20 per cent., gained over 50 has been written about the millions per cent. in the ensuing six years. In spent abroad by traveling Americans 1911 the total of domestic exports had and the millions taken away or sent risen to $2,013,549,025. In addition, away by a transitory foreign populawe exported $87,259,611 of gold and tion, but these losses have had little silver. During the same period our economic effect upon the great total imports increased but still lagged be- of National wealth. hind the exports in amount, as they The savings of the people constitute had done almost every year since 1874. another factor in measuring the growIn 1911 they were in gross, free and ing prosperity and the accumulating dutiable, $1,527,226,105-a decrease of wealth of the country. Before the almost 2 per cent. from the preceding close of the Civil War savings banks year. Moreover, a large proportion existed principally in the Eastern and of our imports in this period was of Middle States. In 1888 such banks exraw or partially manufactured ma- isted in Maine, New Hampshire, Verterials, instead of wholly manufac- mont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, tured goods, as in previous years. Connecticut, New York, New Jersey,

An analysis of these figures goes Pennsylvania, Maryland, Ohio, Wisfar toward demonstrating the self- consin and Michigan. The deposits in sufficiency of the United States and these banks constituted a considerable their practical independence of the portion of the savings of the people of rest of the world. The domestic sup- those States, although some had gone ply of raw materials was ample for into life insurance, building and loan present and future needs, even should associations, real estate and industrial the foreign supply be cut off. Fully 90 enterprises. In 1873–1874 the savings per cent. of the manufactures of the banks deposits in the entire United country were kept for home use. In States were $759,946,000, while in

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1888 they had risen to about $1,500,- lating to its accumulation. A century 000,000 — an increase of nearly 100 had fully demonstrated the country's

per cent. and a proportionate addi- almost inexhaustible natural resources tion to the tangible wealth of the and the capacity, energy and entercountry.

prise of her people. There was no In 1890–1900, however, occurred the longer any uncertainty as to the one serious break in this period's pros- wealth-producing power of the counperity. In the preceding decade there try or any reasonable doubt as to the was a great settlement movement to permanency of its economic progress. the West and Southwest which con- With the period of initiative, entergested somewhat existing conditions. prise and energetic exploitation of Land by the millions of acres was opportunities nearly over and the fruit taken up and mortgages given for pur- of this intense National activity fully chase price and working capital, re- ripened, it was natural that the sulting in an agricultural depression economic questions of distribution which spelt ruin to the farmers of rather than of production should have Kansas, Nebraska and other States in come to engage the minds of the that section. But the tide changed people, especially of those who studied quickly and in the years following economic and sociological conditions. 1897, with good crops and higher In regard to the general subject of prices, the farmers regained their wealth, this was one of the most striklosses. Mortgages were paid off and ing manifestations of the period. The that part of the country again attained conclusions have been almost as varia condition of economic solvency. The ous as the investigators and commenincident is interesting and important tators have been numerous. Some from many points of view. It showed facts, however, seem to stand out to what extent the prosperity of the prominently. Vast wealth had become country always depends upon its agri- concentrated in the hands of comparaculture, notwithstanding its develop- tively few individuals, families and ment in other directions, and demon- business combinations; and yet the strated once more the wonderful great middle class has secured more of wealth obtainable from that source. the common accumulation than is genAt the close of the first decade of the erally believed. Beyond this the subTwentieth century no section of the ject has infinite ramifications. This is country was more prosperous than the not the place to enter upon a discusSouthwest.

sion of a subject of such magnitude, At the beginning of the Twentieth even if space permitted. As a vital century questions pertaining to the part of the history of the period, howequitable distribution of wealth came ever, it is essential to record at least into greater prominence than those re- the agitation and discussion which

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formed so large a part of the intel- Circuit courts, inferior only to the lectual life of the period, affected Supreme Court itself. Most of the legislation, and exercised profound business that came before the Suinfluence on business.

preme Court was of this nature and In the opening years of the Twen

the decisions of that body, almost tieth century National thought was

without exception, favored governlargely concerned with the subject of ment supervision and regulation of the government control of wealth and its

business activities of the country. Inproduction. Periodical literature

heritance taxes were placed on the treated of this more than of any other

statute books of nearly every State single topic. National and State legislation favored a more comprehensive

and early in 1912 the proposal to

amend the constitution so as to auand more effective government control of business. It were not too much to

thorize a Federal income-tax was so say that in the two decades ending popular that it was ratified by many with 1910 more than one half the State legislatures. legislation of the country bore di

* C. B. Spahr, An Essay on the Present Disrectly or indirectly upon this matter.

tribution of Wealth in the United States (New The merest reference to some of the York, 1896); Statistical Abstract (Bureau of

Statistics, Washington, 1865–1910); R. R. Bowmeasures to this end will serve to in

ker, Reader's Guide in Economic, Social and Po. dicate the importance this question as- litical Science (New York, 1891); H. Gannett, sumed in our National life. The so

Building of a Nation; Growth, Present Condition

and Resources of the United States (New York, called " anti-trust” laws, State and

1895); J. J. Lalor (ed.), Cyclopedia of Political National, were numbered by the score. Science, Political Economy, and of the Political

History of the United States (3 vols. Chicago, Municipal control of ownership of pub

1881–84); Sir S. Morton Peto, Resources and lic utilities was established in many Prospects of America (London, 1866); Census commonwealths and municipalities.

reports, 1870, 1880, 1890, 1900, 1910 ; T. D. Wool

sey (ed.), The First Century of the Republic (New To the National Interstate Commerce

York, 1876); Hunt's Merchants' Magazine and Commission were given powers that Commercial Review (New York, 1840–70); David

A. Wells, Recent Economic Changes (New York, made its members virtual dictators of

1891); J. A. Collins, The Distribution of Wealth the railroad business of the country. in the United States (Senate Doc. 75, 55th ConIn 1910 Congress created a Commerce gress, 2d session); Wealth, Debt and Taxation

(Eleventh and Twelfth Census reports, 1890 and Court, with jurisdiction, as its title

1900); M. G. Mulhall, Dictionary of Statistics indicates — the only important addi- (London, 1884); L. B. Ruggles, The United tion to the Federal judiciary since the

States of America (New York, 1880); L. H.

Bailey, Agricultural Cyclopedia of America (4 establishment of the District and

vols., New York, 1907).


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