1922 Encyclopædia Britannica/Schwab, Charles Michael
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Schwab, Charles Michael
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SCHWAB, CHARLES MICHAEL (1862- ), American capitalist, was born at Williamsburg, Pa., April 18 1862. He was educated in the public schools and at St. Francis College, Loretto, Pa., where he gained an elementary knowledge of engineering. From 1878 to 1880 he was a clerk in a store at Braddock, Pa., and then became a stake driver in the engineering corps of the Edgar Thomson Steel Works of Carnegie Bros. & Co. His ability brought him rapid promotion and in 1881 he was made chief engineer and assistant manager. Six years later he was appointed superintendent of the Homestead Steel Works. In 1889, on the recommendation of Henry Frick, he was made general superintendent of the Edgar Thomson Steel Works, and in 1892, after the formation of the Carnegie Steel Co., he was made also general superintendent of the Homestead Works. In 1897 he was elected president of the Carnegie Steel Co., and when this was merged in 1901 in the U.S. Steel Corp. he was made president of the latter. He resigned in 1903. He then turned his attention to shipbuilding and a few years later with other capitalists secured control of the Bethlehem Steel Corp., which owned the Bethlehem Steel Co., and several other corporations engaged in the iron, steel and shipbuilding business. He was made chairman of the board of directors. After the outbreak of the World War in 1914 and before the United States entered it, these companies filled orders for the Allies aggregating between 400 and 500 million dollars. The manufacture of submarines for England raised the question of neutrality, but this was solved by shipping parts to Canada, where they were assembled. It was generally understock that German interests made attempts to secure control of the Bethlehem works in order to shut off munitions from the Allies, and a report that Mr. Schwab was offered $100,000,000 for his interest was not only widely published but was given prominence in a reception given to him by the New York Chamber of Commerce, and neither then nor at any other time denied by Mr. Schwab. After America's entrance into the war special attention was given to the speeding up of shipbuilding, and in April 1918, at the urgent request of President Wilson, Mr. Schwab became director-general of the shipbuilding board of the Emergency Fleet Corp. His power of rousing enthusiasm among workers by personal contact began immediately to produce results. The resulting output for 1918 was 410 steel vessels (2,570,077 deadweight tonnage), 106 wooden ships (376,480 deadweight tonnage), and 10 composite ships (37,500 deadweight tonnage), a total of 526 vessels. After the signing of the Armistice in Nov. 1918, feeling that his services were no longer required, he resigned from the Emergency Fleet Corp. in Dec. and returned to his position as chairman of the board of directors of the Bethlehem Steel Corp. Later, charges were brought that he had wrongfully used Government money for expenses unrelated to public duties during his tenure of office, but official investigation completely exonerated him. His benefactions include a Catholic church at Loretto, as well as buildings and endowment for St. Francis College; a church at Braddock, Pa., a school at Weatherly, Pa., and a country home on Staten Island, N.Y., for children of the New York Foundling Hospital.