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United States
(Part 24)


Part 24. Manufactures

Down to the revolution, the very beginnings of manufactures were prohibited in the American colonies by the policy of the mother country. The history of American manufactures begins with the history of the United States. The natural resources of the country for the purpose of manufacture, whether in field, forest, or mine, were various and abundant in a high degree. The supply of coal was the marvel of the world, while the whole Atlantic coast was dotted over with immense water powers. Iron ores of the greatest variety, and often of high purity, were widely spread. The native woods wre remarkable for their beauty, strength, and elasticity. A wealth of building stones, slates, and marbles underlay the surface, from New England to Tennessee and Alabama. Among fibres the soil had a high degree of adaptation to the production of those two which are the chief staples of textile manufacture. Indeed, in the cultivation of cotton this country has from the first been practically beyond the competition of any other.

Yet during the first years after 1790,although nearly every branch of mill and factory industry had been undertaken, the United States at the best attained only respectable standing among the manufacturing nations of the second rank. As yet the American people, as has been explained in a previous section, were employing their thoughts and energies, their resources, their capital, in reaping the first fruits of a virgin soil. While capital applied to the soil in England was yielding 3 per cent., interest upon purely agricultural loans ranges from 8 to 15 per cent. in Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, and Iowa. While the English agricultural laborer was receiving from 9 to 13 shillings a week, the American farm hand was receiving from a dollar and a quarter to two dollars a day, according to the season of the year. At the same time hundreds of thousands of persons taking up farms in the new States, and paying such interest for capital and such wages for labor, saw their lands rise continuously in value through the growth of population and the intensification of settlement. In a word, it has been the competition of the farm with the shop that from 1790 down to the present time had hindered the development of manufactures.

No attempt was made, either at the first or second census, to obtain the statistic of manufactures. In 1810 Congress provided for a report of all manufacturing establishments; but it was found that this work had been so imperfectly done that no summary for the United States, or for any State, was possible. It is interesting to note that cotton cloth was set down at 80 cents a yard, pig iron at $66 a ton, bar iron at $151 a ton, wjile the average product of the gristmills was valued at 75 cents a bushel, and the average product of the saw mill at $7.80 per 1000 feet. In 1820 and again in 1840 renewed attempts were made to obtain the statistics of manufactures, but the results were worthy of little consideration.

In 1850, among extensive changes introduced into the census system, provision was made on an ample scale for statistics of manufactures; and it is accordingly from that date that official information on this subject may be said to begin. The results then obtained were as follows (Table XVII.) : -

== TABLE ==

These statistics were intended to include the production, not of factories merely, but of mechanic shops of every kind. It was found, however, that the returns did not generally embrace the products of artisans working singly at their trades. The mining industries were included in the returns of manufactures.

Between 1850 and 1860 the capital employed had increased to $1,009,855,715; the number of establishments was 140,433; the hands employed were –males 1,040,349, females 270,897, total 1,311,246; the wages paid were $378,878,966; the cost of materials $1,031,605,092; the value of products $1,885,861,676.

The decade 1860-70 was marked by a stupendous advance in mechanic enterprises. The totals are (Table XVIII.):-

== TABLE ==

In addition to the foregoing statistics, it was ascertained that there were employed in manufactures 40,191 steam engines, of 1,215,711 aggregate horse-power, and 51,018 water wheels, of 1,130,431 aggregate horse-power.

In preparation of the tenth census (1880) the provisions for the collection of statistics of manufactures were greatly extended and improved. The totals are as follows (Table (XIX.):-

== TABLE ==

The geographical distributions of the manufactures of 1880 is shown in the following table (XX), the amounts being reduced to percentages:-

== TABLE ==

The first ten cities in order of the number of persons employed in manufactures, were New York, 227,352; Philadelphia, 185,527, Chicago, 79,414, Boston 59,213; Baltimore, 56,338; Cincinnati, 54,517; Brooklyn, 47,587; St Louis; Pittsburgh, 36,930; San Francisco, 28,442.

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