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boundaries, and bringing in from the ends of the earth the
products of the soil. Even the United States as a whole is
tending to become an urbanized nation ; that is, it is tending
toward a condition where more than half of her people will
work indoors rather than outdoors. Again, there is a tendency
even in the world at large for the indoor industries to gain
somewhat in importance as compared with the outdoor indus-
tries, though it is unlikely that the former will ever actually
overtake the latter.

Why agriculture is losing ground. As civilization advances,
people tend to demand finer and finer products for consump-
tion. Usually, though not in every case, producing a finer
product means doing more work in the finer, or finishing,
stages. It takes no more wool or cotton, and therefore it
takes no more agricultural labor, to make fine than coarse
clothing. The difference is mainly in the amount of work
which is put upon the material after it leaves the farm. In
other words, of the total work put upon material, a smaller


proportion is outdoor labor, and a larger proportion is indoor
labor, in the case of fine clothes than in that of coarse clothes.
The same principle applies to shoes, furniture, vehicles, and
many articles of food. Throughout the whole civilized world
this increase in the proportion of labor performed indoors as
compared with that performed outdoors tends to increase the
city population more rapidly than the rural population.

Another and more important fact is the increased use of
agricultural machinery. Fewer men are now needed in the
actual cultivation of the land, as some of the work is done in
the factories where farm machinery is made. Whereas all the
men who formerly helped in the harvesting of a wheat crop
actually worked in the field, now some of them work in the
shops and factories making harvesting machinery, and only
a part of the total number actually work in the fields. The
same change has taken place with respect to many other kinds
of farm work.

Influence of occupation on character. Of all the leading
occupations in civilized countries, there is only one in which
success depends primarily upon the ability to deal efficiently
with nature and natural forces, that is, farming. In most of
the others success depends quite as much on ability to deal
with other men as on ability to deal with nature. Those whose
success depends primarily upon the ability to deal with other
men, whether it be to please, persuade, or amuse them, or to
wheedle the money out of their pocketbooks, must necessarily
become expert in those arts of expression and deportment
which are pleasing to other men. Those, on the other hand,
whose success depends primarily upon their ability to deal with
nature must become equally expert in the art of dealing with
nature, that is, in handling materials and directing natural
forces. It is not surprising, therefore, that these two classes
of experts, having so little in common, should sometimes fail
to understand and appreciate one another. A farmer, particu-
larly the old-fashioned, self-sufficing farmer, who had few points


of contact with other men but many points of contact with
nature, would naturally acquire less of what are sometimes
called the social graces, less adroitness in the amenities of
polite society, less expertness in indoor etiquette, than one whose
business or professional success depended upon these forms
of skill. They who get their living out of the soil must know
the soil, the weather, the times and seasons, and everything
that will affect their success, whereas they who get their living
by dealing with other men must know the ways of men.

Commercial agriculture. The characteristics which farmers
of an earlier day developed naturally and almost of necessity
are becoming less prominent as the nature of agriculture
changes. Self-sufficing agriculture has become a thing of the
past, and we are developing what may be called commercial
agriculture ; that is, a system of agriculture in which the farmer
is a buyer and seller, a dealer with other men, to almost the
same extent as a city business man. He must now understand
not only markets but political and social conditions, even those
delicate psychological factors upon which successful buying and
selling depend. This is tending to wipe out whatever distinc-
tions formerly existed between the dwellers in the city and the
dwellers in the country.

The independence and dependence of the farmer. We are
hearing constantly reiterated, especially by advocates of the
back-to-the-land movement, that the farmer is the most inde-
pendent person in the world. The farmer himself does not
always see it that way. Probably no one is so dependent upon
outward physical conditions as the farmer. He must continu-
ally watch the weather and guard against pests of all sorts, animal
diseases, predatory animals, and even town marauders. Every
year lightning, hail, wind, and floods destroy crops in some
part of the country. When the farmer thinks of all his
troubles, he is very likely to long for the comparative safety and
independence of the indoor worker. On the other hand, the in-
door worker is constantly harassed by troubles of human origin,


political elections, commercial crises, changes of fashion, the
organization of predatory trusts and monopolies, labor troubles,
the type of advertiser who levies something akin to blackmail.
When he thinks of all his troubles, he is very likely to long for
the comparative safety and independence of the farmer.

One important characteristic of agricultural industry is its
dependence upon the seasons. The indoor worker is frequently
able to continue uninterruptedly in one kind of work, week after
week, month after month, and year after year. From the very
nature of the case this is impossible in agriculture, for every crop
has its growing season and its time of harvest. On every farm
almost every hour of the day has its own special work to be
done, so that work is continually changing, not simply from
season to season, from month to month, and from week to week,
but even from hour to hour. This makes agriculture almost of
necessity an industry of small units. In an indoor industry,
where a man can be kept at the same job continuously, me-
chanical or automatic administrative methods and devices may
be installed, so as to simplify the work of superintendence. It
is possible, therefore, for a man of very moderate intellect and
power to run an establishment employing thousands of men.
To run ten men efficiently on a farm, where each man must be
assigned a new job frequently on a moment's notice, where the
whole work of the farm must be reorganized to meet a situa-
tion brought about by the change in the weather or in the con-
ditions of some growing crop, requires as great mental ability
as to run an indoor establishment employing hundreds of men.
To run a farm employing one hundred men, and run it effi-
ciently, would require the ability of a great military commander,
a merchant prince, a captain of industry, or a university presi-
dent. Very few farming establishments which employ as many
as one hundred men have ever succeeded or can succeed.

Country people generally self-employed. Perhaps the most
important fact concerning agriculture is that a very large
proportion of those engaged in it are self-employed, whereas


the vast majority of those who live in cities are employed by
other people. The fact that farming is an industry of small
units, while indoor industries are generally industries of large
units, produces this difference.

Some of the deepest students of political and social tendencies
have come to doubt whether democracy can ever develop to
a high stage of efficiency except among people who are in the
main self-employed. It is true that modern democracy arose
first in the cities and towns, but it is likewise true that at that
time the cities and towns were the homes of self-employed
men. Before the rise of the factory system such manufacturing
as was done was carried on in small shops by craftsmen who were
in the majority of cases self-employed. The rural districts, how-
ever, were under the feudal system. Conditions are exactly
reversed at the present time. Under the factory system the
great majority of people in the indoor industries work under
bosses. Since the break-up of the feudal system and the rise
of the one-family farm, which is the characteristic farm in this
country, the average dweller in the country is his own boss.
This may have something to do with the fact that city politics
is run by bosses and country politics is not.

According to the census of 1850 there was one farm in this
country for every fourteen persons living under rural conditions ;
that is, outside of cities of eight thousand inhabitants or more.
According to the census of 1900 there was one farm for every
nine persons in rural residence. This shows that, up to 1900
at any rate, the tendency was toward a larger number of inde-
pendently operated farms in proportion to the rural population.
Again, in 1900 there was one farm of fifty acres or more for
every 13.4 rural dwellers. When we consider that towns and
villages of eight thousand or less contain a fair proportion of
those 13.4 people, we shall see that in the open country itself
there are very^few people engaged in work on each farm. They
are nearly all what are called one-family farms ; that is, farms
operated mainly by the labor power of one family.


Interdependence of the sexes. The division of labor between
the sexes is much more marked, of course, in agriculture than
in indoor industries. There are so many operations on every
farm which require the superior muscularity of the male as
practically to shut women out. At the same time, the fact that
the farms are so far apart makes it impossible for these muscu-
lar males to get along without women to run their houses. The
men cannot live in boarding houses, because that would make
it necessary to live too far from their work. Practically every
farmer has to have a wife to do the indoor work. This may
not be the "highest motive for marrying, but still it does en-
courage the marriage habit. Consequently one finds in our
rural districts fewer old, unmarried males than one finds infest-
ing our cities and towns. Moreover there are comparatively
few opportunities for a woman to make an independent living
in the country, so that she is almost under compulsion to
marry or else to move to town, where she can get remunera-
tive employment.

Forestry. Forestry as distinct from lumbering has only
recently received attention in this country. The United States
Timber Culture Act of 1873 was designed to encourage tree
planting by granting not more than 160 acres of the public
land free of cost to anyone who would plant a part of it to timber
trees. At first it was required that one fourth of the land be so
planted, but the requirement was soon changed to one sixteenth.
The purpose was obviously to encourage the partial forestation
of the western prairies, but what nature herself had never been
able to accomplish was not accomplished by act of Congress.
As one rides over the western plains one occasionally sees
small tracts of straggling trees fighting for an existence in land
which is too dry for them. These are the results of that act
of Congress. Possibly if the act had been passed earlier, while
there was public land left in the humid belt, something might
have been accomplished, but even this is doubtful. Prairie land
which will grow trees is generally more valuable for other


purposes. Even if a settler had, on such land, made trees grow
successfully, he would probably have found it advantageous to
cut them down in order to devote the land to some more valu-
able purpose.

Forestry economical on waste land. Forestry, in order to be
an economic success, must obviously be practiced on land which
would produce a greater value at lower cost when planted to
trees than when planted to anything else. Mountainous and
semi-mountainous lands, stony or swampy lands, and lands
which for other reasons are unsuited to tillage or pasturage
furnish the natural opportunity for the practice of forestry on
a large scale. While the annual product in the form of the
annual timber growth is small, the cost is likewise small. Since
the land would otherwise go to waste altogether, it is better to
get even a small product than none at all.

Scientific forestry. In recent years the federal government
and several of the states have created forest reserves. Scien-
tific forestry is being practiced, but it must be remembered that
scientific forestry in this country is necessarily different from
what it is in old countries. In a country where lumber is still
cheap as compared with other countries, though dear as com-
pared with what it once was, and where labor is dear, as it is in
this country, one cannot do in the name of science what one
can do in an old country, where lumber is dear and labor cheap.
A serious problem for the American forester is to keep costs
down ; unless he does this he may find that the timber is not
worth what it costs to grow it. For this reason it is not the
custom in this country to do much planting of trees or prepa-
ration of the ground. The work is mainly confined, first, to
cutting out undesirable growths in order to give the more durable
growths, which are in the main self-seeded, a chance to grow ;
and, second, and more important still, to guard against forest
fires. Our summers, which are dry compared with those of
Europe, make the forest fire the great enemy of the American
forester. The fight against diseases and pests is a third task.


Fish culture. Fish culture has been fostered by the federal
and state governments of the United States and by various
private agencies. Spawn is collected and hatched, and millions
of young fish are distributed in our streams and along our
seacoasts. A great deal of study is being given to the habits
of various edible fishes and the sources of their food. Private
enterprise is also active in stocking streams and small bodies
of water, and in growing fish of various kinds for the market.

With our Great Lakes on the north, the two oceans on the
east and west, and the Gulf of Mexico on the south, and with
all our noble rivers, we have access to such vast and seemingly
inexhaustible supplies of fish that fish culture in a strict sense
has not developed very far among us. Hatching and distribut-
ing spawn, and leaving the spawn to shift for itself and take its
chances along with other wild fish, is a step in the right di-
rection, but it stops far short of the work of the animal breeders
on our farms.



Various types of manufacturing establishments. When we
think of a manufacturing industry nowadays, we are very likely
to form' a picture of a huge building or group of buildings,
dominated by a tall chimney and filled with roaring machinery
and busy men and women. Such is, indeed, the typical factory,
though much manufacturing is still done in small shops where
a few men work with small and comparatively simple tools.
In the large factory the tools and the raw material, as well as
the buildings, engines, etc., are usually owned by one man or
group of men, while the work is done by another group. In
smaller establishments various combinations are found. One
kind of manufacturing establishment which is still numerous
and widely distributed is the small shop where the worker owns
his own tools and equipment, buys his own raw materials, and
sells the finished product. It does not constitute much of a
change, certainly not a revolution, when he hires a few helpers
or apprentices to assist him. They work with his tools upon
his raw materials, and they receive their compensation in the
form of wages instead of in the form of a share of the profits
of the business. Even where the owner ceases to do any of
the work except to keep the accounts, buy the raw materials and
sell the products, and exercise general supervision and manage-
ment, the transition may have been so gradual as to attract no
one's attention. By this gradual change, however, a type of
manufactory may be developed which is very different from
that with which it started.

But the transition is not always made in this way. Other
methods of organization have existed at various times, and still


exist. In one class of shops the worker owns his own tools
and runs his own shop, but does not own the raw materials
upon which he works. These are furnished by an outside
person who supplies them and owns the finished product,
paying the worker a price agreed upon for the work which he
does. In this case also the worker may hire a few helpers or

Still another method is found where the worker owns neither
the materials upon which nor the tools with which he works.
A third person supplies both materials and tools, everything,
in fact, except the place in which the work is done. This the
laborer himself supplies.

In the modern factory, however, everything is assembled in
one building or group of buildings, around one power plant ;
everything is owned by one group of individuals, and the
laborer furnishes nothing except his own skill and strength.
The great advantage of this system is its economical use of
power. Wherever a large use of power is necessary, it is im-
portant that it be effectively and economically utilized. In all
such cases the factory, in this modern sense, tends to displace
all other methods of manufacturing. Where comparatively
little power is required, and where, therefore, it is not of such
great importance that it be economized, other methods still
survive. In some cases, however, the competition of the factory
is so severe as to force the workers in the small shops to
work for very low wages. Where the main factor in success
is the skill of the worker rather than cheap power, the small
shop will probably continue to compete successfully with
the factory.

There has been a general tendency, however, for the large
factory to grow and the small shop to decline in importance.

Progress toward large-scale production. The stages of this
development from the small shop to the factory are by no
means clear. Almost every form of manufacturing will be
found in every stage of economic development. The large


factory has come to be the dominant form only since the
invention of power-driven machinery. The industrial revolu-
tion, as it is called, was the rather sudden growth of the
factory to this dominant position during the latter half of the
eighteenth century.

Power-driven machinery and large-scale production. A re-
markable series of inventions followed one another in rapid
succession and transformed several of the large industries of
England into factory industries. These changes put England
definitely in the lead as a manufacturing nation. The same
revolution came in other countries a little later. Says Marshall : l

The quarter of a century beginning with 1 760 saw improvements follow
one another in manufacture even more rapidly than in agriculture. During
that period the transport of heavy goods was cheapened by Brindley's
canals, the production of power by Watt's steam engine, and that of iron
by Cort's processes of puddling and rolling and by Roebuck's method of
smelting it by coal in lieu of the charcoal that had become scarce ; Hargreaves,
Crompton, Arkwright, Cartwright, and others invented, or at least made
economically serviceable, the spinning jenny, the mule, the carding machine,
and the power loom ; Wedgwood gave a great impetus to the pottery trade
that was already growing rapidly ; and there were important inventions in
printing from cylinders, in bleaching by chemical agents, and in other proc-
esses. A cotton factory was for the first time driven directly by steam
power in 1 785, the last year of the period. The beginning of the nineteenth
century saw steamships and steam printing presses, and the use of gas for
lighting towns. Railway locomotives, telegraphy, and photography came a
little later. Our own age has seen numberless improvements and new
economies in production, prominent among which are those relating to the
production of steel, the telephone, the electric light, and the gas engine ; and
the social changes arising from material progress are in some respects more
rapid than ever. But the groundwork of the changes that have happened
since 1785 was chiefly laid in the inventions of the years 1760 to 1785.

The inventions which preceded the cotton factory. A more
detailed account is given in Walpole's " History of England
from 1815 " 2 :

1 Alfred Marshall, Principles of Economics, 4th ed., p. 42. London, 1898.

2 Quoted from Bullock's "Selected Readings in Economics," pp. 128-143.
Ginn and Company, Boston, 1907.


In the middle of the eighteenth century, then, a piece of cotton cloth, in
the true sense of the term, had never been made in England. The so-called
cotton goods were all made in the cottages of the weavers. The yarn was
carded by hand ; it was spun by hand ; it was worked into cloth by a hand
loom. The weaver was usually the head of the family ; his wife and un-
married daughters spun the yarn for him. Spinning was the ordinary
occupation of every girl, and the distaff was, for countless centuries, the
ordinary occupation of every woman. The occupation was so universal
that the distaff was occasionally used as a synonym for " woman." " Le
royaume de France ne tombe point en quenouille. "... To this day every
unmarried girl is commonly described as a spinster.

The operation of weaving was, however, much more rapid than that of
spinning. The weaver consumed more weft than his own family could
supply him with ; and the weavers generally experienced the greatest
difficulty in obtaining sufficient yarn.


About the middle of the eighteenth century the ingenuity of two persons,
a father and a son, made this difference more apparent. The shuttle had
originally been thrown by the hand from one end of the loom to the other.
John Kay, a native of Bury, by his invention of the fly shuttle, saved the
weaver from this labor. . . . By means of these inventions the productive
power of each weaver was doubled. Each weaver was easily able to per-
form the amount of work which had previously required two men to do,
and the spinsters found themselves more hopelessly distanced than ever
in their efforts to supply the weavers with weft. . . .


The trade was in this humble and primitive state when a series of extraor-
dinary and unparalleled inventions revolutionized the conditions under
which cotton had been hitherto prepared. A little more than a century
ago (1764-1767) James Hargreaves, a poor weaver in the neighborhood of
Blackburn, was returning home from a long walk, in which he had been
purchasing a further supply of yarn for his loom. As he entered his cottage
his wife, Jenny, accidentally upset the spindle which she was using.
Hargreaves noticed that the spindles, which were now thrown into an upright
position, continued to revolve, and that the thread was still spinning in his
wife's hand. The idea immediately occurred to him that it would be possi-
ble to connect a considerable number of upright spindles with one wheel,
and thus multiply the productive power of each spinster. He contrived a
frame in one part of which he placed eight rovings in a row, and in another
part a row of eight spindles. . . . His ignorant neighbors hastily concluded


that a machine which enabled one spinster to do the work of eight would
throw multitudes of persons out of employment. A mob broke into his
house and destroyed his machine. Hargreaves himself had to retire to
Nottingham, where, with the friendly assistance of another person, he was
able to take out a patent for the spinning jenny, as the machine, in compli-
ment to his industrious wife, was called.


The invention of the spinning jenny gave a new impulse to the cotton
manufacture. But the invention of the spinning jenny, if it had been ac-

Online LibraryThomas Nixon CarverPrinciples of political economy → online text (page 18 of 48)