Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 2.djvu/174

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the lowest price, then the cotton manufacture is a failure. Instead of even studying to improve the fabric, manufacturers have, ever since the manufacture of carding and spinning machines, thought only of the problem of cheapness. The fabrics they produce are of the worst quality, and quickly wear out; and it may be doubted if there can be found in all Europe, to-day, a single piece of such cotton cloth as used to be manufactured twenty years ago, which gave many times as much wear as the present textures.

The United States annually produce 4,000,000 bales of cotton for the European market, or 1,200,000,000 of pounds, which sells at an average price of one franc per pound. Europe thus pays to the United States 1,200,000,000 of francs every year, simply for cotton, and the 1,200,000,000 pounds of cotton is spun by 50,000,000 of spinning-jennies and wove by 625,000 looms. In, the process of manufacture there is a waste of 25 per cent.; hence 1,200,000,000 pounds of raw material give only 900,000,000 pounds of manufactured cotton goods, worth two and one-half francs per pound, being a total of about 2,250,000,000 francs. The process of manufacturing, therefore, does not even double the value of the raw material.

If, now, we estimate the number of workmen engaged in the cotton manufacture from beginning to end, on the basis of six workmen to every 160 spinning-jennies, we shall have 1,875,000 hands so employed. Add to this the number of those employed in raising the cotton-crop, and the crews of the ships which bring it to Europe, and it will be no exaggeration if we estimate the number of employés at 3,000,000, and the amount of capital at 3,000,000,000 francs. No other industry can compare with this for magnitude, and the epithet King Cotton is well deserved. If we do not take care, this industry will prove the ruin of Europe, whence it annually drains 1,200,000,000 francs, without making any return. Cotton alone is answerable for the ever-increasing wealth of the United States, and the relative misery of European countries. It is full time to put an end to this state of affairs, by compelling the manufacturers hereafter to produce only firm and durable textures. But, inasmuch as the state can scarcely interfere in such questions, it remains for individuals to apply the remedy. It is in the power of the consumer to apply this remedy, as he alone is accountable for the present painful crisis of the cotton-manufacturing industries of Europe.

We have grown so accustomed to cheap cotton fabrics, that, when prices are advanced, we turn to linen, hempen, or woollen textures, and then the manufacturer is forced to adulterate his products, the consumer shutting his eyes to all defects, provided the article is cheap. It will scarcely be believed, and yet it is the simple truth, that, whereas ten years ago the piece of cotton weighed eight pounds, it now weighs but six, or even less, and thus is 25 per cent, less strong than it used to be. But, further, instead of employing good United States cotton,