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How to Win Fortune
HAS THE YOUNG MAN NOW A CHANCE?
WHERE IS THE COLLEGE-MADE MAN?
ARE CORPORATIONS TO DISAPPEAR?
DANGERS TO YOUNG MEN.
Notes de bas de page
Copyright © 2017 - FV Éditions
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All Rights Reserved
Do not hesitate to engage in any legitimate business, for there is no business in America, I do not care what, which will not yield a fair profit if it receive the unremitting, exclusive attention, and all the capital of capable, industrious men.
Every business will have its seasons of depression — years during which manufacturers and merchants are severely tried — but every legitimate business producing or dealing in an article which man requires is bound in time to be fairly profitable, if properly conducted.
And here is the prime condition of success, the great secret: concentrate your energy, thought and capital upon the business in which you are engaged. Having begun in one line, resolve to fight it out on that line, to lead in it; to adopt every improvement; to have the best machinery, and know the most about it.
LABOUR is divided into two great armies— the agricultural and the industrial. In these diverse forces are in operation. In the former everything tends to a further distribution of land among the many ; in the latter everything tends to a concentration of business in the hands of the few. One of the two great fallacies upon which 'Progress and Poverty'— Mr. George's book - is founded, is that the land is getting more and more into the hands of the few. Now the only source from which Mr. George could obtain correct information upon this point is the census; and this tells us that in 1850 the average extent of farms in the United States was 203 acres; in 1860, 199 acres; in 1870, 153 acres, and that in 1880 it was still further reduced to 134 acres. The reason is obvious for this rapid distribution of the land. The farmer who cultivates a small farm by his own labour is able to drive out of the field the ambitious capitalist who attempts to farm on a large scale with the labour of others. In Great Britain nothing has been more significant than that the tillers of small farms have passed through the agricultural depression there far better than those who cultivated large farms. So in both countries we have proof that under the free play of equal laws land is becoming more and more divided among the masses of the people. In the whole range of social question no fact is more important than this, and nothing gives the thoughtful student greater satisfaction. The triumph of the small proprietor over the large proprietor insures the growth and maintenance of that element in society upon which civilization can most securely depend, for there is no force in a nation so conservative of what is good, so fair, so virtuous, as a race of men who till the soil they own. Happily for mankind experience proves that man cannot work more soil profitably than he can till himself with the aid of his own family.
When we turn to the other army of labour —the industrial— we are obliged to confess that it is swayed by the opposite law, which tends to concentrate manufacturing and business affairs generally in a few vast establishments. The fall in prices of manufactured articles has been startling. Never were the principal articles of consumption so low as they are to-day. This cheapening process is made possible only by concentration. We find 1,700 watches per day turned out by one company, and watches are sold for a few dollars apiece. We have mills making many thousand yards of calico per day, and this necessary article is to be had for a few cents a yard. Manufacturers of steel make 2,500 tons per day, and four pounds of finished steel are sold for 5 cents. And so on through the entire range of industries. Divide the huge factories into smaller establishments, and it will be found impossible to manufacture some of the articles at all, the success of the process being often dependent on its being operated upon a large scale, while the cost of such articles as could be produced in small establishments would be two or three times their present prices.
There does not appear to be any counteracting force to this law of concentration in the industrial world. On the contrary, the active forces at work seem to demand greater and greater output, or turn-over, from each establishment in order that the minimum of cost should be reached. Hence comes the rapid and continuous increase of the capital of manufacturing and commercial concerns, five, ten, fifteen, and even twenty millions being sometimes massed in one corporation.
This has given rise to a complaint which is often heard, but which I hope to show has no foundation. The young practical man points to these, and says to himself: 'It is no longer possible for our class, without capital, to rise beyond the position of employes upon salaries. There is a lion in the path which leads to independent commands or to partnership, and this lion is the hugh establishments already existing, which are an impassable barrier to our advancement.' The man engaged in the agricultural army, as we have seen, has nothing to fear from capital. With a small sum, which is not very difficult for him to save or borrow, he can begin farming, the only competition with which he has to contend being that of others of his own class situated like himself. It is certainly more difficult for a mechanic or practical man to establish a new business, or to win partnership in one that exists, than it is for the young farmer to begin his business ; yet the difficulties are not insuperable, nor greater than have hitherto existed. They are such as to stimulate the ambitious ; and this is always to be taken into account, that if the race in the industrial and business world be harder to win, the prize is infinitely greater.
Before considering the prospects of the mechanic in the industrial, of the clerk in the mercantile, commercial and financial worlds, let me show that no classes other than these two have had much to do with establishing the factories, business houses and financial institutions which are best known in the United States to-day. And first, as to the part of trained mechanics. I select the best-known industrial establishments in each department, many of them the most extensive works of their kind and of world-wide reputation: Baldwin Works, for locomotives ; Sellers & Co. , Bement & Dougherty, for mechanical tools; Disston's Works, for saws; works of the Messrs. Dobson, and of Thomas Dolan, Philadelphia, and Gary, of Baltimore, textile fabrics; Fairbanks, for scales ; Studebakers, for wagons, who count their wagons by the acre ; Pullman, of Chicago , Allison, Philadelphia, for cars; Washburn & Moen, and Cleveland Rolling Mills, steel wire, etc. ; Bartlet, iron founder, Baltimore ; Sloanes, also Higgins, carpets; Westinghouse, electrical apparatus ; Peter Henderson & Co., and Landreth & Co., seeds; Harper Bros., publishers, Babbitt, for Babbitt's metal; Otis Works, Cleveland, boiler steel; the Remington Works, and Colt's Works, Hartford, firearms; Singer Company, Howe, Grover, sewing machines; McCormick Works, of Chicago , Balls, of Canton, and Walter A. Woods, for agricultural implements ; steamship building, Roach, Cramp, Neafie, on the Atlantic ; Scott on the Pacific; Parkhurst, Wheeler, Kirby, McDugal, Craig, Coffinberry, Wallace, the leading officials of shipbuilding companies on our great lakes; horseshoes, Burdens; Atterbury Works, for glass; Groetzingers, tanning; Ames Works, for shovels; Steinway, Chickering and Knabe, pianos.
Everyone of these great works was founded and managed by mechanics, men who served their apprenticeship. The list could be greatly extended, and if we were to include those which were created by men who entered life as office-boys or clerks, we should embrace almost every famous manufacturing concern in the country. Edison, for instance, was a telegraph operator. Corliss, of Corliss engine; Cheney, Cheney silk; Roebling, of wire fame; Spreckels, in sugar refining — all and many more captains of industry — were poor boys with natural aptitude, to whom a regular apprenticeship was scarcely necessary.
In the mercantile, commercial and financial branches of business, which are all under the law which drives business affairs into large concerns, the poor clerk takes the place of the trained mechanic in the industrial world. Claflin's, Jaffray's, Sloan's, the Lords, the Taylors, the Phelpses, the Dodges, the gigantic houses of Jordan & Marsh in Boston ; of Field in Chicago ; Barr in St. Louis ; Wanamaker in Philadelphia ; Meldrum & Anderson, Buffalo; Newcomb, Endicott & Co., Detroit; Taylor, Cleveland; Daniels & Fisher, Denver; Home, and Campbell & Dick, Pittsburg ; all these and the corresponding houses throughout the country, as far as I am able to trace their history, have the same story to tell. Wanamaker, Claflin, Jordan, Lord, Field, Barr and the others, all poor boys in the store, and Phelps and Dodge, both poor clerks.
In banking and finance, it is an oft repeated story that our Stanfords, Rockefellers, Goulds, Sages, Fields, Dillons, Seligmans, Wilsons and Huntingtons came from the ranks. The millionaires who are in active control started as poor boys, and were trained in that sternest but most efficient of all schools — poverty.