IF we consider the industrial history of the United States, for the span of a long generation, dating backward from this year of grace to about 1840, we can distinguish at least three great movements which have occupied the minds of men in industry.
The Age of the Pioneer
The first period was still engaged, as previous decades had been, in the process of settling the country, and of starting those simple basic industries which are the foundation of civilized life.
In 1840 Boston was not yet connected with Albany by rail, nor Albany with Buffalo. The grain elevator had not yet been devised; and no coke ovens yet existed near Connellsville. The first steamboat had just been seen at the Soo; and in Iowa they were plowing a furrow from the Mississippi river west 100 miles to guide settlers. A few pioneers were beginning to pass over the Oregon trail; and Fremont was just describing Utah in the papers. It was not until 1845 that copper was produced in upper Michigan. It was only in 1852 that Chicago was connected with the East by railway. The locomotive did not reach the Missouri river until 1859, nor the Pacific coast until ten years later.
The mention of the pioneers calls for a word of tribute. Our nation's first industrial task was the stupendous one of clearing the farms, and of building the common roads, and of establishing villages and cities, and opening outlets for the marketing of surplus products. Perhaps the history of the pioneers was, indeed, but "The short and simple annals of the poor." Carlyle dismissed America with the contemptuous summary, "Hitherto She but plows and hammers." The work of opening the country was simply the first duty. But it was not industry of the cramped mechanical sort which Carlyle knew in the grimy manufacturing towns of Scotland. The pioneers partook somewhat of the nature of the explorers. Their advance westward had the stirring quality of a military reconnaissance directed against the hostile forces of nature which were entrenched in the wilderness. The victory was not to mere economy and patience, and the weaker virtues, but to industry animated with boldness, directed by invention, and ennobled by sacrifice for the future. The pioneers were rugged, self-reliant men