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difficulties which prevented wage earners from rising, of their low wages, and of the hard conditions under which they worked. They sensed the power lodged in their numbers and the necessity of organization before they could use such power to their advantage. A century of organizing efforts, at first haphazard, weak, and commonly condemned by the general public, have culminated in such permanent, effective and generally approved national organizations as the American Federation of Labor, with its 2,000,000 members. So the factory, the concrete embodiment of new industrial inventions, stimulated rapid growth and steady centralization throughout the industrial, the political and the social life of the whole western world.
To complete the background for a study of Trusts it is needful that the rapid growth and the steady centralization, since 1800, of productive power in representative manufacturing plants be set forth in some detail. Facts of official public record in the United States prove such growth and such centralization during the past century beyond any reasonable doubt.
Concentration has occurred in leading lines of United States manufactures steadily since 1800. The census data on manufactures prior to 1850 are unsatisfactory. That there was industrial concentration within the United States from 1800 to 1850 is, however, a fair inference from the facts that there were practically no factories at all in 1800 and very few in 1810 and in 1820, whereas the census figures for 1850 show sizable average plants in a number of important manufacturing lines. Industrial concentration in the United States since 1850 is clearly demonstrated by the census
returns. The notable and steady growth of the average plant, in leading lines of manufacture, is shown by listing its amount of capital, its number of employees, and its value of output, decade by decade.
It seems unnecessary to give tables for all of the thirteen industries for which data are given from 1850.* Tables covering three of them, as compiled from the Twelfth and Thirteenth Censuses, are given as fair illustrations of the steady concentration shown in all the thirteen leading industrial lines:
INCREASING SIZE OF U. S. MANUFACTURING PLANTS 1850 TO 1910
*See Twelfth Census, Vol. VII, p. lxxii, and Thirteenth Census, Vols. VIII and X, see Indexes. The thirteen industries are Agricultural Implements, Carpets and Rugs, Cotton Goods, Glass, Hosiery and Knit Goods, Iron and Steel, Leather, Malt Liquors, Paper and Wood Pulp, Shipbuilding, Silk and Silk Goods, Slaughtering and Meat Packing, and Woolen Goods.
These tables show, decade by decade, the steady increase in the capital, the number of wage earners and the value of the output of the average plant in each of these three lines of manufacture. During the sixty years the capital of the average agricultural implement plant is shown to have multiplied by a hundred and fifty, the greatest average capital increase shown in any of the thirteen manufacturing industries considered. Average capital multiplied more than nine times in the cotton goods industry and almost fortynine times in the iron and steel industry. The number of wage earners in the average plant increased in the agricultural implement industry almost sixteen times, in the cotton goods industry almost three and one-half times and in the iron and steel industry more than eight times. The gross value of the output of finished goods of the average plant is shown to have increased nearly forty-five times in the agricultural implement industry, almost eight and a half times in the cotton goods industry and more than forty-eight times in the iron and steel industry.
A calculation of the flat averages of the returns from all the leading industrial lines for which figures are given since 1850, gives almost startling demonstration of industrial concentration in the United States during the past two generations. Such a calculation shows that in thirteen leading lines of industry in the United States, the average manufacturing plant, in the sixty years from 1850 to 1910, multiplied its capital by more than thirty-nine, its number of wage earners by nearly seven and the value of its output by more than nineteen.
Notable as are these figures, the returns are perhaps
still more impressive when the reader turns from a consideration of the growth of the average plant to note the culminating preponderance of the large plant in the whole range of present manufacturing in the United States. The period from 1840 to 1860 is sometimes referred to as the golden age of small industries because at that time manufacturing generally was carried on throughout the United States by small plants. The last census has made a study showing the recent relative importance of large manufacturing plants. Greater numbers of small plants exist than ever before, but the relatively small number of large plants is putting out a steadily increasing proportion of the country's whole manufactured output. In 1909 the number of plants whose average value of products was above $100,000 a year, was only 11.5 per cent. of all the listed manufacturing establishments of the country, but this 11.5 per cent. of the whole number of plants is accredited with 82.2 per cent. of whole value of manufactured products. Again, plants whose output was valued above $1,000,000 each, made up only one and one-tenth per cent. of the whole number of manufacturing establishments, but this little more than one per cent. of the whole number accounted for nearly forty-four per cent. of the whole output value. Census figures for this phase of the study cover only the years 1904 and 1909. The table below gives the summarized figures for these two years and is submitted as a demonstration that the United States is now in a golden age of large manufacturing industries:
SIZE OF MANUFACTURING INDUSTRIES IN THE UNITED
ANNUAL VALUE OF
Less than $5,000
$5,000 to $20,000
$20,000 to $100,000 1909
1904 $100,000 to $1,000,000 1909
1904 $1,000,000 and over
3,060 1.1 2,015,629 30.5
*Selected and rearranged from table given in U. S. Census 1910, Vol. VIII, p. 180.
The steady growth of big business in the United States world of manufactures is notably recorded in the above table, which shows the development for the short period from 1904 to 1909. Million dollar output plants producing thirty-eight per cent. of the country's output in 1904 were producing nearly forty-four per cent. in 1909. If this same swift rate of change has been maintained since 1909, huge million dollar output plants are to-day producing more than half the value output of the manufactured goods of this nation.
This high development of large scale production is still further in evidence when particular lines of manufacturing are noted in the 1909 record.* Eighty-six lines of industry are listed as leading industries on the
The following facts are taken from the 1910 U. S. Census, Vol. VIII, p. 182.