Ellen Louise Osgood.

A history of industry online

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This book is the result of several years' experience in teaching
industrial history in the Julia Richman High School of New York
City. As there was no textbook which seemed to me to meet the
requirements of the subject, I worked out an outline and a bibliog-
raphy and taught the subject by the library method. After the out-
line was published and other teachers attempted to use it, most of
them seemed to feel that a textbook was necessary to the success
of their work. A desire to make possible a more extensive teaching
of the subject led to the creation of this book.

The length of time given to industrial history in the Julia Rich-
man High School has varied from year to year. At first the sub-
ject- was dealt with somewhat inadequately — in five periods a
week for twenty weeks. It has since been allowed either four or
five periods a week for forty weeks. If industrial history is pre-
ceded by cominercial and industrial geography and followed by
economics, it may be covered satisfactorily in less time than where
all the training in one or both of these subjects must be intro-
duced into the industrial history. This book is intended to furnish
material for a five-period course running through the entire year.

The history of industry presents economic laws in action. To
obtain the greatest possible educational value from such a course
it should be followed by a short course in economics, with special
application to the problems of the day. I believe that if economic
laws are seen first historically and then in their present-day appli-
cation by the young people of this country, there need be little
fear that the United States will not fulfill the high destiny in world
affairs to which events are calling her. With the best of intentions
toward our responsibilities, shallow thinking on economic problems
may yet ruin us.




I. Laying the Foundations of Industry i

II. The Pastoral Stage of Industry . 29

III. Early Agricultural Stage of Industry; Egypt . 34

IV. Other Nations compared with Egypt 56

y. Industry ok the City State 64

M. The Economic Empire of the Ancient World ... 87

\'II. Industry and Commerce during the Middle Ages;

England 106

Vlil. Europe ix the Middle Ages 152

IX. The Mercantile Period 180

X. Agricultural Changes of the Seventeenth and

Eighteenth Centuries 228

XI. Portugal and Spain, the Low Countries, France,

Germany, and Italy in the Mercantile Period . 240

XII. The Industrial Revolution 256

XIII. Effects of the Industrial Revolution 285

XIV. Industry in France, Germany, the Low Countries,

Italy, Spain, and Russia in the Eighteenth and

Nineteenth Centuries as compared with England 305

XV. Early Industrial Development of the United

States: Colonial Period 31S

X\'I. Handicraft Industry in the Colonies 339

XV^II. Industrial Revolution in the United States . . 368

XVIII. The Civil War 388

XIX. Industry in the United States since 1865 . . . 396



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The foundations of industry were laid in the earliest stage of
the development of civilization. This stage is usually called the
Primitive Period of the Stone Age, but it might with more exact-
ness be named the Childhood of the Human Race. The develop-
ment of mankind from savagery to civilization has followed much
the same course as the development of a man from babyhood to
maturity. In the Primitive Period men gradually raised them-
selves above the beasts of the field. They learned to talk, to wor-
ship the forces which they felt about them, to act together in
groups for mutual protection, and to use their hands and minds
for the better satisfying of their needs. These needs extended little
beyond the desire for food, clothing, and shelter, but in their at-
tempt to meet them primitive people invented the fundamental
industrial processes.

For most peoples of the earth this childhood began a hundred
thousand years before Christ and has been over for ten thousand
years. But just as some people never develop beyond children, so
some races have not entirely passed out of the primitive stage
even in the twentieth century. Such people live in the interior of
Africa. Most of the Indian tribes were in this state when white
settlers first came to this country, and some retain many of their
primitive methods of industry to the present day.

Our knowledge of the beginnings of industry comes partly from
the objects made many thousand years ago which archieologists
have dug up, and partly from a study of backward peoples who
are still living. From these two sources, and from the writings


which our own ancestors have left in regard to the Indians as
they knew them, we are able to reconstruct the distant past.

In those early days, before civilization had begun, men lived
much as animals live. They traveled about in search of food and
took shelter under leaves of overhanging branches when storms
threatened. What nature offered that sa)tisfied their needs they
took, but they made little attempt to improve on what they found.
The grain and wild berries that grew in the fields, with the flesh
of such small animals as they were able to catch in their hands,
served for their food. No one knew how to make a fire, so there
could be no cooking done. When night came they lay down under
the trees or in the shadow of a rock. In such a state of existence
as that, man had no industry.

Discovery of fire. As time passed a number of very wonderful
discoveries were made by these animal-like men and women. One of
the very earliest was the discovery of how to start and how to use a
fire. Lightning striking in the forest must have started fires fre-
quently, and it may be that experience with these fires taught men
that a fire may be something else than a terrible devastating curse
that destroys the trees and drives all living things from the forest in
terror of their lives. Perhaps someone who was rubbing two sticks
together started a very little fire, — such a tiny fire that he dared
play with it, feeding it dry leaves for the fun of seeing it burn,
and, as it grew, finding the warmth pleasant. However fire was dis-
covered, of one thing we are sure : very early in human develop-
ment man learned to make fires and cook his food by them. From
that moment he stood above the animals, because by using his
intelligence he was turning what nature offered into a form better
suited to his needs. Improvements in food were followed by the
invention of stone weapons and tools, better clothing, and more
suitable shelter.

Stone weapons. Wherever primitive man lived innumerable
stone weapons are found. It is not strange that the making of
stone weapons should have been one of the earliest as well as one
of the most important industries created by mankind. Man was not
as strong as many of the animals living about him, so he could


protect himself only by running away or hiding from them. He
had no strong, sharp claws, like the tiger, with which to defend
himself and kill his meat for dinner. Self-preservation taught him
to take up stones to fight off his foes or kill the animals he
hunted. No doubt at first he used these stones very much as apes
do, picking whatever came to hand and letting it fly at the enemy.
In the course of time he found that hard stones with sharp edges
were much more effective weapons than round lumps of rock.
After hunting for such pieces it occurred to him that a stone

Couricby oi the Meirupoiiuu Museum of Art

Rough Stone Implements

which was not satisfactory in its original form might be sharpened
by striking it against another stone. At first his attempts were so
rude that it is very difficult to tell the natural flint flakes from those
which man has chipped, but with many centuries of experiment-
ing he produced knives, hatchets, and arrowheads with edges of
remarkable evenness and sharpness. Before that stage was reached
primitive man had taken another step ahead. He had discovered
that if a sharpened bit of stone were tied very firmly to a straight
stick it might be thrown at a foe from a distance. When a clever
warrior invented a bow which would send the stone-tipped arrow
with great force and swiftness a long distance and give it direc-
tion, he had made as great an advance over his stone-throwing
ancestor as the inventor of the modern rifle has made over him.


Stone implements. While the man was inventing stone-headed
spears, and bows and arrows, his wife was making from stone the
implements with which she performed her household tasks. Stone
knives she contrived with which to cut up the animals her husband
dragged back to the cave after the hunt. A stone mill, consisting
of one broad and flat stone slightly hollowed in the center and
another irregular lump of rock, was invented to grind to coarse

Courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art

Stone Knives

meal the seeds which she had gathered for her family's food. As
she developed other industries she invented other tools of stone
and wood and bone to use for them.

Food-getting and preserving industries. Primitive men and
women were taught by many a long starving time that food must
be stored up for seasons of scarcity. It was not safe to eat up all
the meat brought home from the hunt before more was provided.
The prudent mother cut long strips of meat and dried them in the
sun. When they were quite dry and hard she sometimes pounded
the meat very fine and poured over it melted fat and then packed
it away in rawhide sacks. Meat preserved in this way is called

In primitive society it is always the work of the women to
pick and bring into the family larder the vegetable food which,


with the produce of fishing and the chase (provided by the men),
make up the family diet. In whatever place woman's lot was cast
she found such food supplied her by nature. In Asia rice offered
itself ; in Africa millet, tapioca, and yams ; in America maize,
grass seed, potatoes, and nuts. With whichever of these materials
she was provided, woman worked out a group of industrial proc-
esses which are at the basis of our great food industries today.

Let us follow an Indian woman in her search for food. If she
lived in the southern part of North America she learned that in
the summer and fall the tall green cornstalks which grow in sunny
places bore ears of golden corn.
With a roughly constructed
basket of twigs or birch bark
fastened to her shoulders she set
out. Here and there she found
wild fruit or vegetables, and
these she put into her basket
with the ears of corn. Upon her
return to her home she sepa-
rated the reward of her day's
work into piles — one for im-
mediate use and one for the winter, when there would be noth-
ing to pick in the fields. The vegetables and fruits which were
to be saved were cut up and dried in the sun. The corn was
husked and dried and stored. When she Was ready to use the
corn she removed the kernels from the cob and ground them, and
out of this meal she made cakes.

Almost everywhere in the world some kind of grain grows wild,
and everywhere people have made grain their most important
article of diet. For this reason the grinding of grain to meal or
flour became an important industry. Two different methods of
milling grain were evolved by primitive people. By one method
the corn was put into a wooden mortar-shaped bowl, very much
like those seen in apothecaries' shops, and pounded with a wooden
pestle. The mortar was made of a short log, which was hollowed
out by burning the heart and then hacking away the charred

Hammerstone and Hammer


wood with a stone scraper or hatchet. After much pounding and
rubbing in this rude mortar the corn became meal of very uneven
quaHty. By the other method of milling, two stones were used,
called the hammerstone and hammer, or metate and muller. The
hammerstone was a broad, flat stone slightly hollowed out in the
center. The hammer was a smaller, rounded stone. The primi-
tive miller placed the grain in the hollow of the hammerstone and
rolled and rubbed it to meal. In these mills women also ground
dried meat, dried fish, grass seeds, and nuts, as well as all kinds
of grains.

Skin-dressing. As far as we know, the earliest clothing was
made from the skins of animals. At first, no doubt, the pelts
taken from rabbits, squirrels, and other small beasts were scraped
and dried in the sun and fastened together for clothing. Such
treatment would leave them very stiff and harsh.

The chewing method. After trying various methods of softening
the skin primitive woman found that she could make it perma-
nently flexible by chewing the flesh side in her mouth. She put
in as much as she could at one time, and after chewing that to
her entire satisfaction she took up the next portion of the skin and
went to work on that. This method of curing skins — sometimes
applied to much larger skins than that of the rabbit — remained
in fashion so long that travelers within the last century have
found Eskimo women still employing it.

Curing hides and pelts with the hair on. Primitive man im-
proved both his methods of hunting and his weapons of the chase
until he dared to attack large animals, such as the moose, the bear,
and the buffalo. When women were offered the carcasses of these
animals to use, they set to work to find a way to make the skins
of service. When the skins were taken from the animal, they
carried with them so much fat and membrane that they would
spoil instead of drying out if they were treated as were the smaller
skins. Even if a woman wished to use them with the hair on
for robes or fitted clothing, she must scrape away the fatl and
flesh adhering to them and put them through a more elaborate
curing process than the simple expedient of chewing.


In preparing a robe the pelt was first stretched out flat either
on the ground or on a framework of sticks, while the women
worked over it with stone or bone scrapers. By this scraping, all
the fat and flesh were removed. When this was over, the skin was
dried and bleached in the sun. When it was entirely dry the
women went to work on it again, chipping off long shavings, with a
stone and bone tool resembling an adz, until the skin was all of
an even thickness. To soften the skin while this was going on, the
fat and brains of the animal were rubbed onto it by hand and
worked in with a smooth stone. All this was frequently done in the
open so that the warmth of the sun might assist the process. The
Indian women next worked the skin with a grainer (a short-
handled tool resembling a chisel with a serrated edge) to soften the
surface. This tool was unknown to other people, who omitted this
process and went at once to the last stage in the treatment — the
twisting, pulling, and rubbing of the pelt, with occasional applica-
tion of water. Crude as all this seems, it produced a robe as soft
as a woolen blanket, with a finish on the inside resembling chamois.

Making leather. Skins of the larger animals were used in three
other forms: (i) as rawhide, (2) as tanned leather, (3) in a form
much like the chamois skin of commerce. In preparing the latter
the same process was employed as in curing pelts for robes, with
the addition of one more step — that of removing the hair. This
might be accomplished by cutting the hair and outer skin away
after the pelt was dried, but before it was softened. Sometimes the
hair was loosened by sweating or by the application of wood ashes
and water. In the first case the pelts were rolled up, put in a
warm place, and allowed to remain until the hair could be easily
removed. Leather prepared in this way was used extensively for

Rawhide. The simplest skin product to prepare was the raw-
hide. The hides were scraped free of fat, the hair was removed,
they were cut and shaped while still green, and then they were
dried. Sandals, soles for moccasins, cases for carrying meat, and
shields were made of this material. When the hide was dry, it
became as firm as a board.


Tanning. The North American Indians never learned to tan
their leather. Since rawhide absorbs moisture as readily as chamois,
Indians took off their shoes when it began to rain, finding the mud
more to their liking than soaked and clammy moccasins. Other
primitive people found a way to meet this difficulty. They dis-
covered that cleaned hides soaked in water in which the bark of
the oak or the leaves of the sumac were lying turned a darker
color and took on a firmer texture. In use this leather resisted
water (although it was not waterproof) and was less subject than
untanned leather to the attacks of insects or decay. This change
was due to a substance known to us as tannin, which is found
in many plants besides the three just mentioned. It is still used
for tanning leather.

Uses of dressed skins and leather. Dressed skins were used by
primitive people to make a great many articles for which we have
now a variety of materials. Some Indian tribes made their
homes of skins sewed together and fastened over a framework of
poles much as a modern tent is made. Except in the tropical parts
of the globe, primitive people used leather clothing to a great
extent. The Eskimos, the majority of the Indians, the Germans
of Tacitus' time, and the Roman Tacitus' own ancestors were all
clad in this way. Rawhide was used for ropes and string as well
as for warriors' shields, moccasins, and many other articles.

Basketry. Basket-making is one of the earliest industries prac-
ticed by mankind. And this is not strange, for nature provided
raw material practically ready for manufacture. Twigs broken
from the trees, dry grass, willow wands, bark that curled from the
trunks of the birches — any one of these might be interlaced to
form rude baskets. The birds building their nests may have
played the part of instructors to the first basket-makers. How-
ever women first learned to make baskets, in the course of time
two distinct types of basketry developed, depending upon the
material easiest of access.

In regions where reeds were plentiful a woven basket was
manufactured. Where dried grass was found in great abundance
a sewed basket made of sticks or rolls of dried long grass coiled


row on row and sewed together with long-grass threads came into
existence. By dyeing the material different colors, very pleasing
designs were stitched into the baskets.

Uses of baskets. In those days baskets were put to many strange
uses. A water-tight basket served as a kettle in which to boil food.
Of course it was impossible to suspend baskets over the fire,

Courtesy of American Museum of Natural History

Primitive Basketry

but in that age women had nothing that would stand such treat-
ment and were glad to make use of this awkward pot. The water
and meat to be cooked were placed in the basket, and into this
were thrown stones that had been heated very hot. With a suffi-
cient number of hot stones the water could be made to boil.
Bread was mixed in baskets ; for that matter it is still made so
among some tribes of Indians. Woman, wandering through the
forest looking for raw material which she might convert into food,
clothing, or articles of household use for the greater comfort of
her family, carried on her shoulders her basket, in which to take
home her treasures. Fish weirs, animal traps, and even shelters
for human beings were made of basket work.


The principles of manufacture developed in basket-making lie
at the basis of several other arts. The many beautiful weaving
stitches invented for woven baskets were applied to textiles when
spinning made textiles possible. The stitches employed in sewed
basketry are found in several types of lace. Strangest of all, coiled
pottery is built on the same principle as the coiled basket.

Invention of pottery. Closely allied to basket-making is the
art of making pottery. Probably the discovery that clay when
baked in a fire becomes firm and water-tight was made by women
who lined baskets with wet clay to use in their cooking. The
heat of the coals which were put into the lined basket with the
food to be cooked baked the clay. After this had happened many
times women realized that whenever clay was heated very hot it
became hard. The advantage of the pottery bowl or jar over a
basket for carrying water, storing food, and a dozen other uses
was very apparent. Whenever good clay was to be found from
which jars and bowls could be made, and the settled habits of the
people made such things of value to them, the manufacture of
pottery became an important industry.

Preparation of clay. Today in making pottery one studies the
chemistry of clay and mixes the proper ingredients with scientific
exactness. Primitive woman used clay as she found it, and the
result of her work was always a matter of uncertainty to her.
Experience taught her that the fine settlings found in the bottoms
of pools which formed during heavy rains made excellent founda-
tion clay. In a dry country, where the rains came seldom to clean
her material for her, she imitated the work of the rain herself.
She quarried the clay from the hillsides and mixed water with it
to wash out all foreign matter. To this was added some gritty
substance such as sand, pulverized shells, or old pots ground fine,
and the mass was kneaded with care. From the clay so prepared
the articles were shaped by hand.

Decoration of pottery. Decoration of pottery took various
forms. One form consisted of designs scratched in while the pot-
tery was still soft. A second type is that found among the Mexi-
can Indians, who model very lifelike little figures, which they


attach to their vases with a bit of wet clay. These figures some-
times form handles, but are sometimes purely ornamental. The
most pleasing form of decoration to the modern eye is the third
type. This consists of painted designs. Before painting, vases
were smoothed down to an even surface and allowed to dry. When
quite dry they were polished with a stone. The color, which con-
sisted of fine clay — white, red, yellow, or brown — or the juice of

Courtesy of American Museum oi Natural Hibtory

Pri:mitive Pottery

plants, was applied with a brush made of vegetable fiber. Fre-
quently a thin wash of white or red clay was first applied to the
whole jar, and on this slip, as it is called, the design was painted
in other colors. These designs were either geometrical patterns or
attempts at the representation of natural objects, such as animals,
the plants of most economic value to the people of the district,
or human figures.

Glaze. The glaze which is applied to almost all modern pottery,
both for its practical value in rendering the ware water-tight


and for its decorative effect, was unknown to most primitive
people ; that is, primitive potters do not seem to have known how
to produce a glaze, although they sometimes glazed their dishes
by accident. For instance, in rubbing down a jar with a piece of
gourd wet in salt water, enough salt sometimes happened to be
rubbed in to give a glazed surface when the vessel was fired.

Firing pottery. When the jar had received such decoration as
the potter wished to give it, it was propped up on stones, and a
hot, evenly burning fire was built under and around it. By the
time the fire had burned out, the jar had become hard and water-
tight and the decorations were baked into the surface so that

Online LibraryEllen Louise OsgoodA history of industry → online text (page 1 of 34)