« VorigeDoorgaan »
Art. 8.-THE UNITED STATES STEEL CORPORATION. 1. Report of the Commissioner of Corporations on the Steel Industry. Part I. Organisation, Investment, Profits, and Position of the United States Steel Corporation. Washington: Government Printing Office, 1911. 2. Report on the Strike at Bethlehem Steel Works, South Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Prepared under the direction of Charles P. Neill, Commissioner of Labor. Washington: G.P.O., 1910.
3. Hearings before the Committee on Investigation of the United States Steel Corporation. House of Representatives. Bulletins 1-24. Washington: G.P.O., 1911. 4. The Inside History of the Carnegie Steel Company. By J. H. Bridge, New York: Aldine Book Co., 1903. 5. The Romance of Steel. By Herbert N. Casson. New York: Barnes, 1907. London: Grant Richards, 1908. 6. The United States Steel Corporation. By Abraham Berglund, Ph.D. New York: Columbia University Press, 1907. London King and Son.
7. The Steel Workers. By John A. Fitch. Charities Publication Committee, 1910. BETWEEN 54 and 55 per cent. of the 27,250,000 tons of pig-iron and 24,000,000 tons of steel manufactured and marketed in the United States or sold abroad in 1910 were the product of the mines, furnaces and mills of the United States Steel Corporation. This gigantic concern, so powerful in industry, finance and politics in the United States, was organised in 1901. To-day the Steel Corporation, long colloquially known as the Steel Trust, controls from its headquarters in New York what before 1898 were 205 independently organised and independently managed mining, lake-shipping, railway, and iron and steel manufacturing undertakings. Its mining, transport and manufacturing enterprises are to-day established in eighteen States. In a normal year, when business is good, the employees of the Steel Corporation number 236,000; and its $1,400,000,000 (280,000,0007.) of bonds and shares are now held by nearly 100,000 investors.
Ever since the Steel Corporation was organised in 1901 its unprecedented size and its absolute completeness Vol. 216.-No. 430.
as a manufacturing undertaking, its enormous capitalisation and its large earnings, its power in New York finance, its gigantic operations, its control over supplies of ore and coal and over rail and water transport, its domination of the iron and steel industry in the United States, its influence on the industry in Great Britain and Germany, its nearness to the United States Government, its labour and tariff policies, and its relations with the railway companies, have attracted world-wide attention. Hundreds of review and magazine articles, published in many countries and in as many languages, have been written about it; and a veritable library of monographs on different aspects of the Steel Corporation-some popular, others scholarly in their treatment and based on much research-has accumulated in the last ten years.
At Washington, however, the Steel Corporation, except in 1909, when the tariff was revised and a new concession of much value (in regard to structural steel) was made to it, attracted little or no continuous attention until 1910 and 1911. Concern then began to be manifested in Congress as to how this gigantic industrial corporation came into being, as to its capitalisation and its earnings, as to how it had used its enormous power during the financial panic of 1907, as to how it was using its power of making and maintaining prices for steel rails and other of its products, and also as to how far the Steel Corporation, acting in close association with a group of large iron and steel companies known since 1901 as the Independents, was using its control, with the aid of the protective tariff, to create a monopoly in the iron and steel industry of the United States.
From 1897 to March 1911 the Republican party was in control of the Administration at Washington; and in these years it had also a large majority in both the House of Representatives and the Senate. The Republican party since 1860, and increasingly since 1890, has always been in close association with what are to-day described in the United States as the 'big business interests.' These interests subscribe secretly but liberally to the campaign funds of the Republican party at Congressional and Presidential elections, and receive their quid pro quo at the revisions of the tariff. In the face of this alliance there was little disposition on the part of
the Republican leaders to take any action at all adverse to the Steel Corporation or to the other great iron and steel companies which, in association with the Steel Corporation, as the history of prices since 1901 adequately proves, so easily control the industry. Nevertheless, some time before the Republicans lost their majority in both the House and the Senate, a detailed report on the organisation, investments, profits and position of the Steel Corporation was called for at the instance of the Senate from the Bureau of Corporations, a division of the Department of Commerce and Labour at Washington. While this report was in preparation, and before it had been published by the Bureau, the Democrats came into power (April 1911).
This party, while in opposition, had long desired an investigation of the Steel Corporation, for they attribute much of its power to the high duties in the tariff since 1897; and they were, moreover, anxious for an investigation of the circumstances in which, at the crisis in the financial panic in New York of October 1907, the Tennessee Coal and Iron Company, with large areas of coal and ore lands in Alabama, and furnaces and mills at Birmingham in that State, became merged in the Steel Corporation. But, had a Democratic member at any time between the organisation of the Steel Corporation (1901) and March 1911 moved for an investigation of the Corporation by a Congressional Committee, the 'big business interests' Republicans, who invariably stigmatise such enquiries as 'muck-raking,' would have promptly and successfully opposed the demand. When the Democrats were once in full command of the House of Representatives, there was no longer any obstacle to a committee of enquiry; and accordingly, on May 27, 1911, a special committee of seven members-four Democrats and three Republicans-with Mr A. O. Stanley of Kentucky as chairman, began an exhaustive enquiry (the evidence being given on oath) into the organisation and operation of the Steel Corporation, financial, industrial and political, since 1901. While the Stanley Committee, which has powers nearly as large as those of an English Parliamentary Committee, was still at work, the first part of the report of the Bureau of Corporations on the Steel Corporation was made public, and embodied
in the official verbatim report of the proceedings of the Stanley Committee.
When Congress adjourned (August 23), there had been twenty-four sittings of the Stanley Committee, at which every man prominent in the organisation of the Steel Corporation, or in its management since 1901, who was in the United States in the summer of 1911, had been called as a witness and fully examined; and many important letters, minutes and other documents had been laid before the Committee and made part of its records. Twenty-four official bulletins, with the evidence printed verbatim, and all the documents included, had been published; so that at the end of the extra session of 1911 there were in these two sets of official reports, quite apart from the non-official monographs that have been published in the last ten years, all the data necessary to a fairly complete history of the Steel Corporation from 1901 to 1911. It is largely on these reports and monographs that what follows is based.
Before, however, this history can be narrated with even the slight detail that is admissible in these pages, it seems desirable to sketch briefly the history of the iron and steel industry in the United States previous to the formation of the Steel Corporation. It is unnecessary for this purpose to go further back than 1890. This was the year in which the British Iron and Steel Institute, which has long had many American members, made its first visit to the United States. The second visit was in 1904 three years after the Steel Corporation had been formed and had absorbed many of the companies whose guests the Institute had been in 1890. In that year, when the production of pig-iron was nearly 9,250,000 tons and that of steel a little over 4,250,000 tons, there were not more than nine or ten large companies engaged in both the primary and secondary stages of the iron and steel industry. The most important plants-all that were regarded, by reason of their location, their size and their equipment, as of interest to the members of the Institute -were those of the Maryland Steel Company at Baltimore, the Pennsylvania Company at Harrisburg, the Cambria Company at Johnstown (Pennsylvania), the Carnegie and the Jones and Laughlin Companies at Pittsburgh, the
Illinois Company at Chicago and Joliet, and the Tennessee Coal and Iron Company at Birmingham (Alabama), which, in 1890, was the only company with both furnaces and mills south of Mason and Dixon's line.
In 1890 the demand for ore at all the American furnaces together amounted to 16,000,000, tons. Of this quantity only 9,000,000 tons came from the Lake Superior country—a fact of much significance in any retrospect of the American iron and steel industry, because, in the year 1910, of the 51,000,000 tons of ore used at American furnaces, nearly 43,500,000 tons came from that region; and because all the great developments in the industry in the last twenty years, physical, strategic and financial, have been contemporaneous with, and to some extent due to, this change in the source of supply of ore.
High protection had been afforded to the iron and steel industry in all tariffs since 1861. The climax of the protectionist movement, before the Dingley tariff was enacted in 1897, was reached in the year 1890. The McKinley tariff of that year increased duties all through the schedules. For the protection of American manufacturers the tariff of 1890 imposed a duty per ton of $6 on pig-iron; from $16 to $20 on bar-iron; $16 on wire rods $12 on charcoal iron; $10 to $18 on structural steel; equally large duties on iron and steel plates; and $12 on rails.
Such were the fiscal conditions of the industry in 1890. As to material conditions and methods, the equipment of American furnaces and mills, and furnace and mill practice, differed but little from the equipment and practice of English and Scottish furnaces and mills. Automatic machinery, which in the last fifteen or sixteen years has so largely reduced labour costs in the iron and steel industry and at the same time eliminated much of the brutal toil of the older period, had scarcely begun to be introduced. The old method of charging a blast furnace, which involved the labour of men on the upper platform to tip the charge into the stack, was still followed, with all the noisome and exhausting work and the risk to life and limb attendant upon it. A cast was still made as it had been in the early years of the seventeenth century, when the Foleys set up their furnace at Stourbridge. All the coke used at the furnaces was the product of exhausting labour at beehive ovens; and electricity