The American Promethus, Part I:

Who Made the United States A Great Power?

by Anton Chaitkin

Printed in The American Almanac, 1989. First printed in New Solidarity Newspaper, August 1, 1986.

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In the Aeschylus play, Prometheus explains his battle with the Olympian gods-perhaps these gods stand for the aristocratical families who wished the mass of men to live in darkness, or to be slaughtered and replaced by some new "superior" race:

"Soon as even he had seated himself on his father's throne, [Zeus] forthwith assigned to the deities their several privileges and apportioned unto them their proper powers. But of wretched mortals he took no heed, but desired to bring the whole race to nothingness and to create another, a new one, in its stead.

"Against this purpose none dared make stand save I myself-I only had the courage; I saved mortals so that they did not descend, blasted utterly, unto the house of Death. Therefore am I bent by so grievous tortures, painful to suffer, piteous to behold.

."..I caused mortals no longer to foresee their doom.... I caused blind hopes to dwell within their breasts.... and besides it was I that gave them fire.... and therefrom they shall learn many arts."' Plato, speaking through Protagoras, says that "Prometheus ... found the other animals well off for everything, but man naked, unshod, unbedded, and unarmed ... Prometheus therefore ... stole from Hephaestus and Athena the gift of skill in the arts, together with fire-for without fire it was impossible for anyone to possess or use this skill-and bestowed it on man. In this way man acquired sufficient resources to keep himself alive, but had no political wisdom.... But into the dwelling shared by Athena and Hephaestus, in which they practiced their art, he penetrated by stealth, and carrying off Hephaestus' art of working with fire, and the art of Athena as well, he gave them to man."' [1]

The twin gifts of Prometheus have always been inseperable: political wisdom (republican statecraft), and command of the knowledge of nature's fires. Prometheus once found a congenial home in America, and may yet again.

At the end of the American Civil War, General of the Army Ulysses S. Grant sent troops under General Philip Sheridan to the Texas-Mexican border. Supplying the Mexican patriot forces of President Benito Juarez with military equipment, Grant thus helped expel the Europeans whose armies had invaded Mexico in 1862, who had imposed the Hapsburg "Mexican Emperor" Maximilian.

U.S. Grant's aide, Adam Badeau, described the relations between the General and Matias Romero, Juarez's ambassador to the United States:

"Romero, though of the Latin blood, was an American and a republican, the representative of a country that had been attacked at the same time, and, as Grant believed, in the same interest as the Union.... When Grant arrived in Washington, after the surrender of Lee, Romero promptly called on him, and Grant informed the Minister of the purport of his orders to Sheridan ... From this time the Northern soldier and the Southern diplomatist worked in harmony. Grant ... was extremely annoyed at the delay in the action of our own Government and thought the French Emperor should have been notified at once to withdraw his troops from Mexico. He had many conferences with the Mexican Minister on the subject; even expressing a desire to go at the head of an army himself and assist the Mexicans in driving out the invader....

"I [Badeau] was present at many of the conversations of these allies, and had especial charge of those of their papers which Grant was unwilling to expose to ordinary official inspection... Romero furnished Grant with constant information from his own Government and country, and many an intercepted dispatch have I translated, predicting or discussing events in Europe as well as Mexico ... and even the intrigues in the United States which complicated our own politics with those of Mexico.

"When at last the end of the feeble empire came Grant often told me his views. He was very stern, and thought that the pretender to a throne should be punished as severely as any other traitor. Because Maximilian was of royal blood did not lessen his offense.... He more than once said in my hearing that Maximilian ought to die; and he told me that he made the opinion known to Romero, who he supposed found means to communicate it to his Government; not of course in official documents, for diplomatists are not in the habit of entrusting such secret matters to public dispatches; they have other channels than those accessible to Congressional resolutions. But although neither Grant nor Romero chose to commit himself by recorded expressions, Grant always believed that his tacit condemnation of the invader had its weight.... Grant believed it necessary to show European monarchists that they could not with impunity attempt to set up institutions on this continent menacing to our own; he thought the blow offered to Mexico was in reality meant for this country; and he considered that no such effectual lesson could be taught imperial enemies of this republic and of all republics, as the punishment of a princely offender."[3]

President Lincoln had been murdered at the war's end, and Secretary of State William H. Seward was no longer under Lincoln's restraining hand. Seward now worked for a British-allied New York and Boston political faction representing all that Lincoln had fought against. Mexican Ambassador Romero had suspected treachery from Seward and had worked directly with Lincoln when possible during the war; now General Grant worked directly and secretly with the Mexican republicans.

The New York Times screamed bloody murder at the news of Maximilian's execution in 1867:

"There is not a man anywhere, with a spark of honorable feeling in his nature, who will bear this news without emotion,-without sympathy for this noble and gallant young prince, and detestation for the monsters who have glutted their vengeance in his blood."[4]
The principal owner of the Times, Leonard Jerome, had long been a personal friend and admirer of the Hapsburgs. The Times had called for the annexation of Mexico, as a "compensation" for the secession of the South from the Union in 1860, which the Times would allow to be a permanent secession:
"Ignorant and degraded as they are, the Mexicans ... [neverthe- less] would regard the people of the free North as benefactors and deliverers from anarchy and revolution."[5]
William Seward had meanwhile counseled President-elect Lincoln to let the South go in peace.

Lincoln chose instead to fight for the Union. The mobilized Americans defeated the plans of European imperialists for a worldwide Plantation System, which was supposed to embrace Asia, Africa and the Western Hemisphere; a system of Peasants, in various forms of slavery, and Lords. The leaders of secession also vainly attempted "filibusters," the armed conquest of Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean. The United States was to have been an overseer in this slave system, or it was to have been crushed.

Victorious industrial republicanism would demonstrate to the imperial enemies what free men could accomplish. In the twenty years following the Civil War, the victors launched technological innovations of a sweeping and unprecedented nature, calculated to benefit mankind. Since we have made no similar progress since the end of that extraordinary period; since what they did must, for mankind's future, be repeatable today; it should be instructive to inquire into the lives of some key figures in this republican industrial revolution.

The Railroad as the Driver

General William Tecumseh Sherman, who with General Grant had planned and achieved the Union's military victory, was shifted West at the war's end to command the Division of the Mississippi. For the next four years, Sherman's chief responsibility was to inspect, oversee and protect the construction of the first transcontinental railroad, the Union Pacific. President Lincoln had signed the law organizing this national project, which Sherman himself had previously long promoted. It was paid for with huge grants of federal land and more than $50 million of government money, while private investors bought in with about $4 million.

Many of the railroad workers had served under Sherman, and still wore their Union uniforms; many of the railroad's executives had been Sherman's officers. The chief engineer, retired General Grenville M. Dodge, had been Lincoln's advisor as to the route the first Pacific line was to take. Sherman now constantly conferred with Dodge on the progress of the road.

At odds with the government over its punitive Reconstruction policy, Sherman in 1867 criticized the movement of troops into the defeated South, a transfer which depleted the railroad guard force. [6] Yet Sherman met with the western Indians and on the whole maintained peace with them, aided by General Philip Sheridan, now shifted from his earlier pre-Juarez duties on the Rio Grande. Sherman contributed greatly to the settlement of the Navajos, Cheyennes, Kiowas, Arapahos and Comanches onto reservations in the 1870s.

Western railroad construction lay at the heart of republican postwar strategy for American industrial development. In 1867, a very optimistic, eager 30-year-old retired general named William Jackson Palmer, and his 21-year-old chief assistant Edward Hibbard Johnson, headed a survey team along the 32nd and 35th parallels. General Palmer was the construction manager for the Kansas Pacific Railroad, mapping routes through New Mexico and Arizona to the Pacific coast, several times leading his men to dodge or lightly skirmish with hostile Indians. In 1868 he reported on the vast resources of the southwestern U.S.

The Kansas Pacific route ran southward of the pioneer Union Pacific. It was an enterprise of the Pennsylvania Railroad, whose president J. Edgar Thomson had sent Palmer and his assistant Johnson out west. Under Gen. Palmer's direction the Kansas Pacific was extended from Kansas City, Missouri, reaching Denver, Colorado, in August, 1870; the last 150 miles were completed in 150 days.

William J. Palmer was born in Kent County, Delaware on Sept. 18, 1836. The state of Colorado celebrates the 150th anniversary of his birth this year, for he is well known there as one of the greatest of that state's founders. Given the shameful hold of anti-technological political forces over present-day Colorado, however, it might be fairer for them to forego any celebration, leaving a remembrance of Palmer to those actively seeking industrialization-such as the Mexicans, for whom Palmer's life holds great meaning.

Palmer grew up amongst his Quaker compeers in Philadelphia. At eighteen he joined an engineering group surveying for the location of the Hempfield railroad in Washington County, Pennsylvania, just southwest of Pittsburgh. On behalf of relatives in the railroad business, Palmer went to England in 1856 to study British railroad and mining operations. His letters back home show a growing excitement about the possibilities of utilizing new rail, iron and, especially, coal technologies in the United States.

He was also disgusted with British labor practices. He toured the Cornish mines, ankle deep in scalding water:

"Ten steps further, when every step seems to be a measure of your life. There is a little hollow in the rock. That... is where [a] little boy [miner] laid down and died.... Strangers visiting the depths very generally lose 5 or 6 lbs. weight. The miner not so much, because he is used to it. But he can never work in any other mine, or at the surface again-he is tied down to 1,500 feet. 35 is an average of their life. Their wages averages 62 1/8 cents a day."
Palmer wrote to his parents:
"I shall return to your shores a ten-fold better American (as such) than I left it, and with fuller confidence in the principle of human equality and Republicanism generally than, I think, I should ever have felt had I never visited aristocratic England."[7]
Palmer had met Pennsylvania Railroad president J. Edgar Thomson in England-Thomson was also spying out the latest British technology. Young Palmer explained to Thomson that coal could replace wood as the railroad's fuel source. The PRR was then in an "ecological" crisis, burning 60,000 cords of wood per year and rapidly stripping the right-of-way of all trees. Palmer promised that he would devise a box to take most of the smoke out of coal combustion. The thankful Thomson hired Palmer as his private secretary in 1857, and the Pennsylvania became the first American railroad to convert to coal.

Over the next four years, Palmer was most concerned with the problems of efficiency and power in combustion. Among his collaborators in experimental industrialism were the PRR vice president Thomas A. Scott; Scott's assistant Andréw Carnegie, an immigrant from Scotland one year older than Palmer, who had learned from his avidly republican family to love the poet Robert Burns and the U.S.A.; and Evan Pugh, just back from a European education which included Göttingen University and some study under Justus Von Liebig, the father of German and American bio-chemistry.

A relative of Palmer's studying in Freiburg, Saxony, had written him a glowing introduction to Evan Pugh as a genius whose experience could aid Palmer materially. Pugh and Palmer worked together on furnace layouts and coal chemistry.

Pugh was meanwhile building up the "Farmers' high school" (founded in 1855) of which he was president. Thomson and the PRR financially underwrote Pugh's school and backed it in the state legislature with the railroad's substantial lobbying clout. In 1862 President Abraham Lincoln signed the Land Grant College bill; Pugh's school was awarded the state's federal grant money by the legislature, and it was rechartered as the Agricultural College of Pennsylvania. President Evan Pugh raised the school, renamed Pennsylvania State College in 1874, into one of the premier centers of American technology. Only in recent years has Penn State fallen under the sway of Malthusian, anti-technology radicals.

The Franklin Legacy

Benjamin Franklin had created, in colonial Pennsylvania, many institutions devoted to the spread of Augustinian civilization. His American Philosophical Society and his Pennsylvania Society for Manufacturing and the Useful Arts sought to develop America's industrial skills and, ultimately, its national power. Franklin's political economy expressed the role of America as the outpost and vanguard of human progress: he called for high wages, plentiful cheap credit and maximum industrial enterprise. During the Revolution, Franklin wrote to the Irish about tariffs as a protection of national sovereignty. His world renown as an experimental and theoretical scientist was coupled with his role as America's grand political strategist. In Franklin, the world saw scientific progress and republican statecraft as one and the same thing.

Franklin's nationalist outlook was carried forward by Alexander Hamilton into the new Federal Government, with the Bank of the United States (located in Philadelphia), increasing protectionist tariffs and public works. Franklin's Philadelphia remained the center of the republican faction, not only for the U.S.A. but in many respects for the untire world. Irish revolutionary emigre Mathew Carey, after serving as a printer in Franklin's French headquarters, was sponsored in business by the Marquis de Lafayette and President George Washington. Carey's Philadelphia publishing house was the first and for a long time the largest in America. A Roman Catholic, Mathew Carey published the first Catholic Bible in America.

Philadelphia was the U.S. capital from 1790 to 1800. Around Carey and his fellow publisher William Duane there gathered in that city a growing number of Ibero-American statesmen and diplomats, concerned to build free nations in the Catholic regions south of the U.S. border. Among them were supporters of the 1810 Mexican revolution of the Catholic priest-republicans Hidalgo and Morelos. The most famous in this group was Manuel Torres, a Spanish nobleman and an emigre from Colombia whose national cause he had adopted.

Following the second U.S. war with England (1812-1815) Torres, Duane and Carey educated American republicans including President James Monroe, Secretary of State John Quincy Adams and Speaker of the House Henry Clay on the viability of independent republics in South America. They warned of the danger of British and other European intervention in this hemisphere.

William Duane, an Irishman with important Erasmian Catholic connections in England, had been arrested and thrown out of India by the British authorities for printing attacks on the East India Company. Having been born in the American colonies, which had since revolted against that same East India Company oppression, Duane had returned to America and taken up journalism in Philadelphia.

Duane's newspaper Aurora exposed British intentions in Spanish America, describing the London-based imperialist "revolutionaries" Aaron Burr and Francisco Miranda. Burr was in exile after his arrest by President Thomas Jefferson, having been charged with treason for trying to set up a new British-backed empire comprising Mexico and half the U.S.A. Miranda had proposed a similar new empire to William Pitt in the 1790s. Duane continually warned of British encouragement of hostility between the United States and Spanish America. In opposition to the British, Duane, Carey and Torres foresaw the emergence of powerful free republics throughout the Western Hemisphere, allied and economically and militarily invincible.

In 1822 President Monroe accorded U.S. recognition to five Spanish-American nations, and received Duane's and Carey's friend and guest Manuel Torres as charge d'affaires from Colombia, the first official diplomatic representative of any lbero-American nation. The following year the President proclaimed his anti-colonial, anti-British Monroe Doctrine.

Meanwhile Mathew Carey launched a systematic attack on the economic outlook of Adam Smith, the Free Trade policies preferred by the British East India Company, and the murderous anti-population theories of Thomas Malthus. Carey's political economy, adopted by his student Henry Clay and dubbed by Clay the "American System," revived the dirigistic measures of Hamilton, and now comprehended the industrial, scientific and cultural development of free republics throughout the Western Hemisphere. German economist Friedrich List studied under Mathew Carey in Philadelphia for many years, then returned to Germany to build the republican movement and the Customs Union, the first step toward German nationality.

The American System briefly held power in the 1820s with President John Quincy Adams, Secretary of State Henry Clay, ambassador to Mexico Joel Poinsett, and Nicholas Biddle as president of the Philadelphia-based Bank of the United States. In the 1830s and 1840s, a succession of rotten Democratic presidents, and two quickly dead Whigs, repeatedly reduced the nation to chaos and depression.

But Philadelphia's Franklin tradition remained strong. Mathew Carey's son Henry C. Carey wrote economics books and pamphlets from a Christian humanist standpoint, pressing the attack against Malthus and British imperial looting policies in India and Ireland, against the British opium trade, against the spread of negro slavery, proposing the harmony of interests of capital and labor, and of North and South.

Illinois Whig politician Abraham Lincoln, a follower of Henry Clay's hemispheric American System ideas, studied Henry Carey's texts and had Carey write the economic core of the 1860 Republican Party platform, on which Lincoln ran for the presidency.

Around Henry Carey there gathered the Philadelphia group of republican industrial, financial and literary collaborators, preparing themselves for a revival of American industrial creativity.

There was banker Jay Cooke. There was ironmaster Joseph Wharton, head of the American Iron and Steel Institute, lobbying for protective tariffs. And there was the Pennsylvania Railroad, by the time of the Civil War America's largest corporation. Typical of this Philadelphia faction, PRR President J. Edgar Thomson committed all available financial resources to construction, maintenance and development of the railroad and allied enterprises. He did not play games with stocks and bonds, and would not tolerate any of his associates or employees doing so. At his death in 1874, Thomson controlled about one billion dollars in corporate entities; yet his personal net worth was in the hundreds of thousands. There was no paper pyramid-he had plowed it all back into construction and development.

Philadelphia at War

When the Republican Party nominated Abraham Lincoln for the presidency in 1860, William J. Palmer was 23 years old, and private secretary to the president of the Pennsylvania Railroad. During the previous year, pro-slavery thugs had threatened to set fire to a meeting of a Philadelphia lecture club organized by Palmer. He and his friends had put their lives on the line to defend their freedom of speech. Rioters clashed with the 600 police outside; Palmer as bodyguard for the invited speaker, and club-wielding Judge William Kelly (later Henry Carey's main ally as Congressman "Pig Iron Kelly") as chairman subdued the thugs inside. In August 1860, Palmer was elected Secretary of the Philadelphia Young Men's Re- publican Club. His close friend Isaac Clothier, later the founder of the Strawbridge and Clothier department store, described the campaign in a retrospective letter:

"Thousands of young Republicans all over the North formed associations under the general name of Wide Awakes, and wearing oil-cloth caps and carrying torches marched in military array to the political meetings of the times. These Clubs ... helped to infuse a spirit into the Republican movement which perhaps contributed largely to its success. Many a night ... Palmer and I marched in uniform with the local Philadelphia body-the Republican invincibles-to meetings held in Philadelphia and different points within fifty miles of the city, where we went by train, returning home often in the early morning.... Those uniformed and marching companies were the precursors of the regiments which, carrying musket and bayonet instead of the torch, sprang into being six months later at Lincoln's call."

The following March 4, 1860, President-elect Lincoln passed through Philadelphia and raised the flag over Independence Hall, on the way to his inauguration in Washington, D.C. But PRR operations chief Thomas A. Scott advised Lincoln to change his plans. Intelligence reports showed that the Baltimore Sun was whipping up an anti-Lincoin mob, egging them on to a possible assassination when Lincoln's train was to pass through Baltimore. Scott proposed that Lincoln go back to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, and travel from there, in disguise, directly to Washington, to arrive before the press knew what had happened. Lincoln followed this plan, and his inauguration was guarded by 15,000 soldiers and police. The Baltimore Sun changed its editorial line slightly, from attacking Lincoln as dangerous and worthy of death, to branding him a lunatic, and criticizing his security precautions as cowardly! Perhaps this is the model for the current press coverage of Lyndon LaRouche's presidential campaign.

The Pennsylvania Railroad was now placed at the disposal of the Union. Lincoln chose Thomas A. Scott as Assistant Secretary of War in charge of Transportation and Communication; Scott brought his assistant Andréw Carnegie to Washington with him. Their first job was to move troops to the defense of Washington through Maryland, where secessionist mobs had destroyed most of the rail lines. Carnegie was injured while replacing some sabotaged telegraph wires, and arrived on the first troop train into Washington with blood streaming down his face. Scott and Carnegie built the rail and telegraph lines and the bridges linking Washington D.C. with Virginia, securing the capital city and allowing Union troops to operate on the offensive southward. Carnegie organized the Union telegraph office, using mostly Pennsylvania Railroad personnel for operators. He then returned to Pittsburgh to direct the western Pennsylvania war operations of the PRR. Thomas Scott remained as Assistant War Secretary, running some of the crucial movements of Union troops in 1862 and 1863.

William J. Palmer recruited and trained the elite Pennsylvania 15th Regiment cavalry corps, who moved in advance of Union armies, scouting, spying, crashing through enemy camps. In this manner he prepared the Union forces' intelligence at Antietam in 1862. He was afterwards captured behind Confederate lines, imprisoned and nearly executed as a spy. Exchanged, he rejoined the fighting and led his regiment at Chickamauga and Missionary Ridge. Palmer's regiment made a unique contribution to the success of Sherman's march towards Atlanta:

General Palmer was responsible for:

"examining and mapping out the country in advance of the army ... [for which] he was peculiarly fitted by his early training as a civil engineer. In this scouting service nothing escaped his vigilant eyes: the character of the soil upon which the roads were made; their general directions; the strength of the bridges, the depth of the streams, all were carefully noted and sketched, and were absolutely reliable. Every officer in the regiment was directed, yea compelled, to be thus observing." [8]

Building a New World

At the close of the war, General Palmer was sent west, along with his assistant and chief telegrapher Edward H. Johnson. For four years Palmer and Johnson were to map out and construct the PRR subsidiary, the Kansas Pacific Railroad.

The Philadelphia republican faction, centered around the Pennsylvania Railroad, was now engaged in a mammoth project of nation-building. Lincoln had given them the green light for devel- opment. In the face of continual British trade war, protective tariffs were set at around 50%, allowing steel mills to be built for the first time in America. Railroad companies were given large land grants to assure long term investment in their construction. After Lincoln's murder, his easy-credit policy had been partially maintained, despite outraged cries from international financiers. The Public was still reading two wartime pamphlets printed by banker Jay Cooke and written by Henry Carey's disciple, Treasury Statistician/tariff expert William Elder, on the benefits of credit expansion for industrial development.

By 1871, J. Edgar Thomson and his financial partners Scott, Carnegie and Palmer controlled the Union Pacific Railroad, the first transcontinental line which had been completed with the Golden Spike two years before.

Andréw Carnegie's Keystone Bridge company was replacing wooden railroad bridges with new iron ones. Between 1868 and 1874, Carnegie, Thomas Scott and J. Edgar Thomson combined to build the first bridge across the Mississippi River, at St. Louis; the partners built at least two other Mississippi bridges, giant pioneering enterprises at the time, together with the rails and equipment to connect them to existing rail lines.

The Pennsylvania railroad grew at a furious pace. President J. Edgar Thomson poured money into the purchase of the new American steel rails, in the long run cutting maintenance costs compared to the old iron rails. The PRR underwrote the establishment of young George Westinghouse's Air Brake Company in 1869, and immediately contracted for the new automatic technology for all the line's cars. They could now run much longer trains at higher speed, without sending brakemen across the top of moving trains to screw down brake levers car by car. Pennsylvania railroad tonnage doubled between 1870 and 1873; by the time of Thomson's death in 1874, the line and its subsidiaries comprised 6,000 miles, running from New York to Chicago, down to Washington and through much of the Midwest and South.

The partners' banker, Jay Cooke, was building the second transcontinental line chartered by Congress, the Northern Pacific, from Duluth, Minnesota on Lake Superior, out to Puget Sound, on the Pacific coast in Washington State.

Jay Cooke had sold nearly three billion dollars worth of small denomination U.S. bonds during the four years of the Civil War, appointing 2,500 subagent salesmen. He had outflanked the Wall Street and London financiers who tried to blackmail President Lincoln for war credits (they wouldn't sell U.S. bonds-after all, might there soon be no United States?) It had been an un- precedented "sales drive" appealing with great success to the patriotism of the average citizen. Cooke now began to use similar methods, raising loan capital from public subscription, in order to open up a vast area of undeveloped territory. With his railroad, the northern great plains, the Rocky Mountains and the Pacific northwest could be occupied by settlers under Lincoln's free homstead and industrial land grant programs.

Upon the completion of the Kansas Pacific Railroad line through to Denver in 1870, meanwhile, William J. Palmer, backed by PRR president J. Edgar Thomson, quit the Kansas Pacific and launched a bold new venture. He created the Denver and Rio Grand Railroad, proposing to build it from Denver, Colorado, in the American Rockies, south to El Paso, Texas, and through to Mexico city. In 1871, Palmer, his Kansas Pacific fellow executive Josiah Reiff, and Philadelphian George Harrington, formerly Lincoln's Assistant Treasury Secretary, set up the Automatic Telegraph Company. It was to compete with the monopoly Western Union Company, which was a political intelligence front for anti-American international financiers. Palmer sent his assistant Edward H. Johnson back east to supervise the Automatic's work, and they hired the 24-year-old Thomas Alva Edison to invent their technology. This was Edison's first serious financial backing as an inventor. We will return later to the story of Edison's sensational achievements, the victory of New World republicans against European oligarchs.

Joint Development -- or None at All

The Denver and Rio Grande Railroad was designed to launch simultaneously the economic development of the American west and of Mexico. The D & R G's first annual report, published in 1873, stated in unmistakable terms Palmer's strategic purposes with respect to Mexico:

"It has been a part of the plan of this company, from the inception, to extend its line southward from El Paso along the Rocky Mountain plateau to the City of Mexico and the tropical plantations of the adjacent coasts.

"The heart of that republic with its nine millions of people was as naturally and surely our objective point, as the Pacific slope of the United States with its 700,000 population was the proper objective of the Pacific Railroad when it started across the plains from the banks of the Missouri River.

"En route, the development of the rich mines of Chihuahua, Durango, Guanjuato ... and the State of Mexico, of the ... wine and cotton district of northern Mexico, of the tin and iron deposits of northern Durango, of the pineries of the Sierra Madre, of the great wheat field of Central Mexico, as large as that of California, is sure to furnish a large local trade of itself, sufficient to warrant the extension of the road.

"But when the connection is made, an enormous through traffic will spring up between the heart of Mexico, with its harbors on two oceans, and the Rocky Mountain country of the United States-Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska, New Mexico, Wyoming, Montana, Utah, California; indeed, the greater part of that vast and rapidly growing region lying between the Missouri River and the Pacific Ocean, to which this trunk north and south line, and the several Pacific railroads crossing it, will render it accessible. The Mexican tropics are the only tropics reachable by railroads from the United States. To reach all others, the sea must be crossed.

"Our New West will get its sugar, coffee, tobacco, rice, rum, molasses, indigo, olive oils, drugs, nuts, and spices, gums, tropical fruits of all kinds, cotton, cocoa, coquito for oil, cochineal, india-rubber, mahogany and a great variety of other hard and precious woods, ropes, tarpaulins, matting and paper (made of the maguey fibre), oysters and fish, dye-woods, soap, leather and saddles, salt and saltpetre, the ornamental Mexican earthenware and statuettes, seeds of all kinds to exchange for northern varieties, cheap horses and mules, and bullion, from Mexico; and, in return, will send back a thousand articles of domestic and agricultural use now unknown to the Mexicans-iron plows, shovels, cooking-stoves, grates, ranges; also mining machinery and implements of all kinds, sugar, cotton, and woolenmills and brick machines, wagons and carriages, general hardware, and all sorts of tools, bar-iron and steel, wire, guns and pistols, pipe, furniture, butter, hams, cheese, lard, grapes, apples, bush and other temperate fruits, not to be had there, wines and brandies from the Rio Grande Valley of New Mexico, ice, choice stallions and bulls, etc., to improve their degenerate breeds, cotton and woolen goods, and innumerable other necessities and luxuries from which the people of Mexico have been almost entirely cut off, in consequence of their topographical isolation. The manufactured part of this list, and articles of s#ill generally, will at first come by this route from Chicago and St. Louis, but in a few years from the works at Canon City, Denver, Pueblo, and Albuquerque, in Colorado and New Mexico.

"In the course of time, as the artisans of Mexico become skilled, as capital there takes a manufacturing turn, as coal mines are opened, and iron works and a more complex kind of manufactures are established, many things will be made there which, for the first few years, must be imported; but, by that time, the very growth which this would indicate will render necessary an interchange manifoldly larger......"

Financing for the D & R G's United States construction came from Palmer's allies in Philadelphia and Colorado, and from sympathetic small capitalists in England. No outside banking house was involved.

In the summer of 1871, Gen. Palmer acquired 10,000 acres at the foot of Pikes Peak, and on this site built the city of Colorado Springs. For no particular religious reason, but to prevent his city from degenerating into violence and disorder like many prairie towns, saloons were banned. Palmer explained,

"My theory for this place is that it should be made the most attractive place for homes in the West, a place for schools, colleges, science, first class newspapers, and everything that the above imply." [10]
Beauty, order and culture were Palmer's objectives in Colorado Springs. The results have been permanent. Palmer was the principal founder there of Colorado College, and Colorado Springs is today the home of the North American Air Defense Command Headquarters and the United States Air Force Academy.

Palmer envisioned the Colorado of the future as rivalling Pittsburgh and Chicago in industrial power, and the best European cities for beauty. As the D & R G was built, Palmer's Central Colorado Improvement Company opened up many coal and iron mines along its route. The steel mills he set up in Pueblo began providing rails for his construction. Such heavy industry as has been built in Colorado is largely due to his efforts.

Rather than collapsing into a post-Civil War depression, the United States had been freed to expand its industries and agriculture in a way the world had never before seen. In this remarkable period:

  • the yearly production of Lake Superior iron ore went from 193,000 tons (1865) to 1,195,000 tons (1873);

  • pig iron production, at 823,000 tons in 1865, was no better than it had been in 1847!-but by 1872 it had reached 2,548,000 tons;

  • rails produced went from 318,000 (1865) to 893,000 tons (1872);

  • coal increased from 24 million (1865) to 58 million tons (1873);

  • the number of patents, which had been stable in the range of 3-4000 per year from 1858-1864, rose to 6,099 in 1865, to 12,201 in 1867, remaining at about that level until 1881;

  • the freight rate for a bushel of wheat sent from Chicago to New York was $22 by water vs. $44 by rail in 1867, $24 by water vs. $33 by rail in 1872; further progress dropped the rail freight price down to $14 by 1881, so the competing water price fell to $8;

  • immigration averaged 385,000 per year from 1869 to 1873, compared to 168,000 per year from 1855 to 1865;

  • the average hourly wage in the United States rose by about 19 percent between 1865 and 1872, while basic commodities such as coal, copper, com and cotton receded in price from wartime to approximately prewar levels".

Imperial Counterattack

The European anti-republican aristocracy recoiled in shock and dismay at the possibility of American methods transforming the world, possibly ridding the world of oligarchs. Boston writers such as Henry Adams and the Transcendentalists, expressing their preference for earlier centuries, their revulsion at "crass materialism," put a gentle face on the Europeans' ugly hostility science, reason and rising living standards. The Americans would have to be stopped.

A construction company named Credit Mobilier was set up in 1864 to expedite the building of the government-financed Union Pacific Railway. The chief organizer of this company was a very strange individual named George Francis Train, supposedly acting as an agent of Union Pacific Vice President T. C. Durant. The principal stockholder in Credit Mobilier was the banking firm of Levi Morton and Bliss. In the midst of the post-Civil War construction boom, "reformers" began circulating stories of corrupt acts between Credit Mobilier and the U.S. Congress. In 1872 the scandal resulted in a congressional inquiry. Some congressmen were censured, others, especially pro-development men such as James G. Blaine, were tarred with the corruption brush but exhonerated. From that point on government officials feared doing anything whatsoever on behalf of railroads and related industrialism.

The reader may jujdge for himself if the notorious Credit Mobilier was deliberately concocted to brake the progress of American expansion, if he is given certain facts about the main players.

We reproduce here a highly favorable biographical sketch of George Francis Train, who organized Credsit Mobilier:

"...born in Boston ... 1829.... entered the counting house of Enoch Train & Co., shipping merchants of Boston, and at the age of twenty one he was placed in charge of a branch house in Liverpool....[In 1854 he] established in Melbourne, Australia, the house of George F. Train & Co., meanwhile visiting all parts of the orient [at this time the opium trade was the principal joint business of Boston and British merchants in the Far East].... During the celebrated Beecher-Tilton trial [in London during the U.S. Civil War he wrote attacks] defamatory of ...the church and society, and was imprisoned in the Tombs for six months for indecent writing, being finally released on the ground of harmless lunacy. At the time of organizing the Union Pacific Railroad Co., he remarked to D'Israeli, the Prime Minister of England, 'You go to India by your Suez Canal; I'll go home, build a railway across the continent, and beat you to the goal'.

"True to his word, he broke ground at Omaha, Neb., for that vast enterprise, and rode in the first train on the complete railway....[Despite] foreclsure proceedings [against his Nebraska property]...his title was established...on the ground that, as he had been declared insane by another court, his property could not pass from him except at the instance of a legal guardian. Having been adjudged insane, however, he could not take legal occupancy of the property.... He never shakes hands, and for years he spoke to no adult, save from the lecture platform...[He was] promionent in the organization of the Credit Mobilier and Credit Forcier schemes...Lately he has written all his communications in what he terms 'psychic verse,' a style which is unique.... Always an agitator and orator, he is credited with having been one of the prime instigators of the Paris Commune of 1871...Mr Train died in ... 1904."[12]

Meanwhile the principal owner of Credit Mobilier, who escaped with a reputation (among Anglophile historians) as spotless as the robotic Mr. Train, was the banking firm of Levi Morton and Bliss. The London office of Morton Bliss was headed by Sir John Rose, otherwise a representative of the British Foreign Office. In 1871 Sir John negotiated with the U.S.A. over American claims to damages for having had the U.S. merchant fleet sunk by British-built warships during the Civil War. Throughout the 1870's, Morton Bliss participated in the British banking syndicate along with Drexel-Morgan, Seligman and Belmont-Rothschild, blackmailing the U.S. government to pay off Civil War bonds in gold or face wholesale dumping of American securities.

A Different Kind of Catholic

Now we shall digress momentarily, to introduce the next participant in the imperial counterattack. There was in Philadelphia an important alternative, in the wide spectrum of what has passed for Roman Catholicism, to the tradition of Mathew Carey. It was the Catholicism of the Orders (some of them really predating Christianity, such as the Benedictines), as represented by the Drexels. Francis Martin Drexel was born in 1792 in the town of Dornbirn, province of Vorarlberg, in the western finger of Austria that borders on Germany, Lichtenstein and Switzerland. His father, a merchant, was an officer of the unsuccessful Tyrolese revolt against Napoleon's occupation of Austria in 1809. Drexel traveled into Switzerland and worked as a house and wagon painter. From Switzerland, as his base for five years, Drexel slipped into Paris, the enemy capital, for at least one several weeks visit. Upon the downfall of Napoleon late in 1814, Drexel returned to Austria.

Francis Martin Drexel immediately painted a life-size portrait depicting the Hapsburg Emperor Francis kneeling in prayer together with Czar Alexander after their victory over Napoleon. This masterpiece was hung in a triumphal arch over the town, through which the Emperor rode. Drexel was presented to his beloved Emperor, who supposedly conversed with him about his painting abilities.

Drexel left Austria for good the following February, 1815, and travelled to the United States, landing in Philadelphia-the very headquarters of the evil and dangerous republicans. He had left Austria just after the world was informed that America's second war with England was over. Now the New World would be challenged by the Holy Alliance of the Hapsburgs and the Russian Czar, with Britain playing its own anti-republican game in tandem.

Francis M. Drexel established himself as a portrait painter in Philadelphia. In an autobiographical fragment, he complains that around 1824 he was the object of an organized libel campaign which destroyed his reputation. It appears that the attorney for his opponent, in the court case which resulted, was William John Duane, son of the William Duane who championed the freedom of Spanish America. (This younger Duane would several years later be appointed Treasury Secretary by President Andréw Jackson, but would be fired after refusing to withdraw the government's deposits from the Bank of the United States.)

All his friends being now suspicious of him -- in what particular way he does not specify -- Drexel was forced to depart the scene. He took ship to South America, where he travelled from 1826 to 1830 as a "portrait painter" for an astonishing variety of diplomatic, political, military and commercial dignitaries, including perhaps the entirety of the British Empire's agents on that continent. He managed to send $12,545 back to Philadelphia during this period. At one point Drexel was arrested in Peru on suspicion of being "the spy who spoke German and posed as an artist."

Drexel was back in Philadelphia from 1830 to 1835, with little visible means of support. He then travelled in Mexico, during the Texas independence struggle, returning to Philadelphia in 1837. The Bank of the United States having been closed, there was a terrible financial panic that year ... and it was curiously enough precisely at this point that Herr Francis M. Drexel, our Austrian house painter-cum-intelligence officer, opened up his banking house.

With its quite apparent foreign backing Drexel and Company prospered greatly, taking advantage of the wild gyrations of banknote values now that there was no longer any national U.S. currency. Enormous profits were made by Drexel during the 1857 panic, by identical methods. Francis M. Drexel died in 1863, run over by a Pennsylvania Railroad train; his sons Anthony J. Drexel and Joseph Drexel took over the family firm. The following year Anthony Drexel bought the Philadelphia Public Ledger newspaper.

Early in 1871 Anthony Drexel met in London with his close ally, British banker Junius S. Morgan. They prepared a final strategy for the destruction of the Philadelphia republican industrialists. In May, 1871, Drexel invited J.S. Morgan's son John Pierpont Morgan, then stationed in New York, to visit him in Philadelphia.13 The new firm of "Drexel, Morgan & Co." was established-Drexel bought the corner of Broad and Wall Streets in New York and built there what became known as the House of Morgan.

The new firm went to war right away. Jay Cooke's Northern Pacific Railroad operations had been slowed by congressional timidity in the face of the Credit Mobilier Scandal. Cooke's contracted bond salesmen in Europe-the houses of Rothschild, Baring and his own partner Hugh McCulloch-had somehow failed to sell any of his large denomination railroad bonds. Now Drexel's Philadelphia Ledger began shamelessly and relentlessly blasting Cooke as a bankrupt, as a bad investment risk. Drexel's campaign struck its target with explosive effect.

Jay Cooke & Co. folded and closed its doors on Sept. 18, 1873. Within two days the Northern Pacific and most other American railroad construction halted. The new steel mills shut down, banks collapsed, stocks crashed. In this Panic of 1873, the Philadelphia industrialists were totally removed from the transcontinental railroad business. The overall pace of development in the American economy was never again to be recaptured. The goals of thick settlement along the western routes of transcontinental railroads were changed by the men who took over the lines. This is how the British Newcomen Society de- scribes what happened with the Drexel, Morgan firm during this dramatic transitional period:

"By 1873, Drexel, Morgan & Co. achieved a major position in the distribution of U.S. Government bonds, a field that previously had practically been dominated by the Philadelphia banking firm of Jay Cooke. This was accomplished by working closely with Levi Morton's firm in New York, which was allied with the Rothschilds abroad. After Cooke was forced into bankruptcy by the Panic of 1873, the Drexel-Morgan firm held an unrivaled position in this field of finance. Morgan, within a few years of his admission as a partner, had become the dominant member of the firm. To the United States Treasury, he could now offer distribution facilities of demonstrated effectiveness represented by a combination of Drexel-Morgan capital, the machinery of J.S. Morgan & Co. in London, and Drexel Harjes & Co. in Paris, and he could also offer international distribution through Levi Morton and the Rothschild firm.

"Foreign connections continued to be the cornerstone of Drexel-Morgan success and were to remain of major importance for many years to come, as long as Europe continued to provide capital for financing American development "[!]

This account goes on to portray Drexel-Morgan as the great reorganizer of almost all American railways, ending "opportunism" and "chaos." The Drexel family had another great interest, in accordance with their Hapsburg orientation: they lavishly sponsored the establishment of the anti-industrial Benedictine order throughout the American midwest and among the Indians.

Continuous financial warfare, culminating in the Drexel-Morgan induced Panic of 1873, destroyed the great Philadelphia organizing muscle of American industrial development. The Pennsylvania Railroad men were expelled from the board of the Union Pacific, and lost the Kansas Pacific and the Texas Pacific railroads as well. J. Edgar Thomson died under tremendous strain in 1874. The PRR thenceforth "knew its place," while Morgan and his allies took over and eventually dismantled the U.S. rail system.

But three projects of the Philadelphia republicans survived the Panic and the 1870s foreign seizure of American credit facilities. The significance of these projects would reach to all future generations. The first was the inventive career of Thomas Edison. The second was the steelmaking of Andréw Carnegie, which began in earnest at the very bottom of the depression of 1873. The third was the spectacular, bloody campaign of General William J. Palmer, Matias Romero, Carnegie, and their political ally James G. Blaine, to tie the development of the U.S.A. to that of Mexico and other hemispheric republics.

General Palmer had sent his assistant Edward H. Johnson back from Colorado in 1871, to supervise the work of the new Automatic Telegraph Company, founded by Palmer and Josiah Reill, the Kansas Pacific treasurer. Johnson hired 24-year-old reputed genius Thomas Alva Edison, to improve or replace the telegraph equipment with which the Automatic hoped to compete against Western Union. The Palmer group learned a bitter lesson in 1873; through Edward H. Johnson in particular, the backing and guidance they would provide to Edison was to prove decisive.

Who Was Edison?

The father of Thomas Edison, innkeeper Samuel Edison, Jr., was indicted for high treason against the British Crown, in absentia. In two and a half days, Sam Edison had run more than 80 miles through the forest, pursued by dogs and royal soldiers. He escaped from his native town of Vienna, Ontario, Canada, to safety across the U.S. border. Now Sam Edison and other "rebel leaders" were ordered to give themselves up to the colonial authorities for trial, to be executed or exiled to Tasmania. But Sam stayed in the Detroit area for some time, early in 1838, working with the Canadian republican movement across the border.

Canadian patriots in predominantly French-speaking Quebec, known then as Lower Canada, and English-speaking Ontario, known as Upper Canada, had demanded self-rule from the British government. The Speaker of the Assembly in Lower Canada, Louis Joseph Papineau, had defined the aims of the movement in Ninety-Two Resolutions sent as a petition to King William IV in 1834: break up the oligarchy of speculative landholders who stopped impoverished Canadians from owning land; secure the rights of the Canadians to republican institutions as the United States had won them. [14] Papineau was a Roman Catholic in the mold of the Lafayette international movement, as was Mexico's Benito Juarez-he held that Christianity must be the moral bedrock of the state, and, not contradictorily, that priests must have no political power.

Lord John Russell, Bertrand Russell's grandfather, had answered the Ninety-Two Resolutions with Ten Resolutions on behalf of the British government -- the Canadians, said Russell, had no rights; they were, after all, subjects. Papineau's demands were echoed by republican parliamentarian William Lyon Mackenzie in Upper Canada. Despite British tactics of pitting the Canadian co- lonials against each other on language and religious lines, republicanism had developed strongly in the two sections. Canadian patriots looked to nationhood, independent or in combination with the U.S.A.

But agent provocateurs thrust themselves forward. Staged riots and military clashes gave the new Queen Victoria's forces pretexts for attacking the unprepared, unarmed republicans, arresting their leaders and executing many. Papineau and Mackensie fled to the United States.

Sam Edison had been a patriot political leader in Ontario, who was training and drilling a citizen militia when the 1837 Rebellion broke out on British terms.

Sam moved on from Michigan to Milan, Ohio, where his son Thomas Alva Edison was born in 1847. Sam, skilled in several lines of mechanical labor, introduced his son to the power of machines, and taught him to read serious literature. Sam's favorite historical figure was Tom Paine, General George Washington's pamphleteer in the American Revolution. Reading with his father, Thomas Edison made Tom Paine a sort of model for his own life-for Paine was an inventor as well as a statesman, an engineer who built America's first iron bridges.

In recent decades only one "sympathetic" biography of Thomas Edison has appeared, written by Matthew Josephson, otherwise the author of The Robber Barons. Josephson, a socialist with a preference for aristocratic Anglo financiers like J.P. Morgan who could impose "order" on "disorderly" capitalism, lies ruthlessly about political questions. He reiterates, without a shred of evidence, that Thomas Edison hated his father, that his father had no influence over him. Josephson says "several years after" Thomas Edison's marriage on Dee. 25, 1871, Edison "happened to write" to his father asking him to come to New Jersey to live with Thomas and his wife. But on at least two occasions less than a month after this marriage, Jan. 6 and 14, 1872, Samuel Edison signed as a witness for some of Thomas's early inventions. [15] Sam Edison lived until 1896, to the age of 92, remaining sharply political all his life. He worked with Thomas Edison in many capacities into the 1890s, through the most important period of the inventor's life. Sam despised Wall Street, as did his son.

Josephson, an expert in American financial history, deliberately misidentifies the Philadelphia-based owners of the Automatic Telegraph Company as agents "of the sinister Jay Gould" -- a Wall Street high-roller who was at war with Palmer and his associates.

Other Edison biographies are worse, painstakingly separating the inventor from any particular social outlook or purpose. A celebrated recent book entitled a Streak of Luck 16 portrays him as a kook, whose success was due in great measure to luck. The author does however briefly mention the "anti-Wall Street" Philadelphia financial group.

Edison's contract with General Palmer's Automatic Telegraph Company gave him the wherewithal to work, and to bargain with their richer competitor Western Union for occasional other work without being owned by them. Western Union bought inventions only in order to silence a potential challenge to their communications monopoly, and suppressed or deployed them as necessary.

The basic technical problem was that only one message at a time could be sent across a single set of very expensive poles and wire. Edison's first great assignment was to perfect a system whereby two, and then several messages could go simultaneously over the same wire.

To develop his "quadruplex," Thomas Edison explored from scratch the geometry of electric current. His inventiveness began with his questions-what kind of work was nature prepared to do to transform itself on our behalf? When the Automatic Telegraph Company gave him $40,000, Edison spent it in a flash for experimental equipment, and for books on all previous experiments in automatic telegraphy and automatic mechanisms. Edward Johnson described him sitting

"with a pile of chemical books that were five feet high when laid one upon another. He had ordered them from New York, London and Paris. He studied them night and day. He ate at his desk and slept in a chair. In six weeks he had gone through the books, written a volume of abstracts, made two thousand experiments ... and produced a solution, the only one that could do the thing he wanted." [17]
Hardly "luck"!

Financier Jay Gould bought out and took over the Automatic Telegraph Company in 1873-after Edison had done the magnificent work to create the quadruplex. Western Union and Gould's Automatic then pulled Edison back and forth. But Edward H. Johnson stayed by his side, as Edison's chosen executive versus the Wall Street sharks, and General Palmer's agent in England, Col. George Gouraud, represented Edison as well.

Here are a few capsule portraits of the sharks, who were rapidly taking over the entire U.S. economy.

  • Jay Gould's telegraph executive, Thomas T. Eckert: He was placed by Secretary of War Stanton in charge of the Union telegraph office, some time after that office was started by Andréw Carnegie. On April 14,1865, President Lincoln, finding him- self short of protection for his planned visit to the theater that night, asked Stanton to give him the burly Eckert as a bodyguard. Stanton said no, he would need Eckert for telegraph business; this, it has been demonstrated, [17] was not in fact true.

    Lincoln, not satisfied, went to Thomas Eckert himself and asked him point blank to escort him to the theatre. Eckert said no, he would be too busy. That night the unprotected Lincoln was murdered. Stanton, working through the New York Times, immediately launched a furious attack on General William T. Sherman as a "traitor," and cancelled the Lincoln-Sherman plan for a postwar reconciliation with the South.

    After Gould's telegraph interests were merged with Western Union, Eckert rose to become Chairman of the Board of Western Union.

  • Tracy Edson, Vice President of Western Union, the man who introduced Edison to that Company and who "handled Edison's case":

    During the Civil War, Edson was president of the American Bank Note Company. While still executing his prewar contract to print U.S. treasury notes, he printed Confederate banknotes and bonds on the order of Gazaway Bugg Lamar, chief Confederate agent in New York. He was never jailed, and remained a director of American Banknote until 1876, employing as his postwar president Albert Goodall, the personal freemasonic representative of Britain's Prince Edward VII.

  • "Commodore" Cornelius Vanderbilt, after 1871 the co-controller of Western Union with J.P. Morgan:

    Vanderbilt's Accessory Transit steamship company equipped and transported soldier of fortune William Walker to Central America in 1855. Walker declared himself dictator of Nicaragua, rein- stated slavery and called for European colonial protection against the United States. When he also stole Vanderbilt's boats, the Commodore subsidized a general war in the region which killed over ten thousand people, overthrowing Walker and recovering his boats.

    It is probably significant that Augustus Schell was the postwar legal advisor for Vanderbilt's companies, Augustus' brother Richard Schell was the financial adviser, and his other brother Frederic Schell was Vanderbilt's stock broker. Augustus Schell had been the political boss of the secessionist wing of the New York Democratic Party, before and during the Civil War. He was the national chairman of the Breckenridge-secessionist Democrats in 1860. As Collector of the Port of New York in charge of U.S. customs there from 1858 to 1860, Schell oversaw the reopening of the negro slave trade; approximately one hundred slave ships per year embarked from New York for Africa under his protection. Schell was never arrested-he replaced the pro-Union "Boss" Tweed as head of New York City's Democratic Party after a New York Times expose campaign destroyed Tweed.

Sound and Light

Thomas Edison severed his relations with the Gould-Controlled Automatic Telegraph Company in 1875. The following year, Canadian republican Sam Edison, Jr., aged 72 years, supervised the construction of a new type of laboratory for his son. With Philadelphian Edward Johnson as his chief executive assistant, Thomas Edison occupied his new "invention factory."

Alexander Graham Bell, backed by Boston opium czar John Murray Forbes, had invented a toylike telephone device. It was somewhat better than two cans on a string, and could be used with difficulty over a short distance. Edison went to work with his own chosen and trained staff to perfect the telephone. Around 1877 he invented the carbon microphone, and his transmitter translated sound into electrical signals and back again. He had made the telephone practical.

Edison now set out to flank the Boston-Wall St.backed Bell Company; Mr. Bell himself had dropped out, having lost interest in inventing after his toy came out. The Edison Telephone Company of Great Britain was created with the help of General Palmer's London agent Col. Gouraud, and Edison's business manager Edward Johnson. With his own factory-based library as a physics and chemistry school, he trained mechanics who would know his devices so thoroughly they could put them together under any conditions. A man applying for a job with Edison was told, "People ask what we pay and how long you have to work. Well, we don't pay anything and you have to work all the time;" the man enthusiatically responded, "I'll take it!"

George Bernard Shaw, then aged 23, happened to be hired by the Edison Co. in its race to install British telephones. Shaw wrote with a mixture of awe and fear about the invasion of Edison's technical cadres:

"These deluded and romantic men gave me a glimpse of the skilled proletariat of the United States.... They worked with a ferocious energy which was all out of proportion to the result achieved. Indomitably resolved to assert their republican manhood by taking no orders from a tallhatted Englishman [with] his conviction that they were ... inferior and common persons, they insisted on being slave-driven with genuine American oaths by a genuine free and equal American foreman. They utterly despised the artfully slow British workman who did as little for his wages as he possibly could ... [but who] had a deep reverence for anyone whose pocket could be tapped by respectful behavior. They adored Mr. Edison as the greatest man of all time ... in science, art and philosophy, and execrated Mr. Graham Bell ... as his Satanic adversary.... They were free-souled creatures ... with an air of making old England hum which never left them...." [19]

With what the world then acknowledged as the Bell-Edison telephone going to market, Edison asked the question, What if you call someone, and he is not in? The voice must be somehow preserved-the principle of the telephone answering machine. So he invented the phonograph. In December 1877, his Swiss-German machine builder John Kreusi made the device according to the in- ventor's specifications, after immense labor by Edison and his workers. Edison recited "Mary had a little lamb" into the thing, and his very voice came back, prompting a frightened German oath from Kreusi, and startling Edison --

"I was always suspicious of anything that worked perfectly the first time."

Edison had been partially deaf since age twelve. But he trained his concentration so that he could hear the entire musical overtone series, and was able to perfect his phonograph. He loved Beethoven and hated Wagner, but in the early days he was actually against using the phonograph for music. Since his instrument could not reproduce a really beautiful sound, he was afraid it would only be used for bad popular entertainment, and preferred its limitation to education and business purposes.

As soon as the phonograph was tested successfully, Edison put on a demonstration for members of Congress at the home of James G. Blaine's niece in Washington.

Edison's fame now spread quickly throughout the world. Jumping at his opportunity, Edison immediately escalated. He announced to the press that he planned to electrify the major cities, supplying power to heat and light homes and businesses, to run electric elevators and trains, to power industrial machines. None of the processes that he described existed; there was no important manmade electricity except that from batteries. Over the next months, he drove himself and his staff to create the means for industrializing and civilizing the world. It was to be a contest with nature, and with Wall Street, which Edison and the world won.

To be continued


  1. Aeschylus, Prometheus Bound, translated by Herbert Weir Smith, Harvard University Press, 197j, p. 237-239.

  2. Plato, Protagoras, translated by W.K.C. Guthyie, in The Complete Dialogues of Plato, Princeton University Press, 1973, 321 c-e, p. 319.

  3. Badeau, Adam, Grant in Peace: From Appomattox to Mount McGregor, A Personal Memoir; Books for Libraries Press,19??

  4. New York Times, editorial, July 2,18 67.

  5. New York Times, editorial, Dec. 26, 1860.

  6. Lewis, Lloyd, Sherman: Fighting Prophet, Harcourt, Brace and Co., 1932, p. 595-599. Lincoln, Grant and Sherman had met at City Point, Virginia, to plan the peaceful reunion of the seceded states, the first step toward Lincoln's plan for southern railroad and industry building. But Lincoln was murdered almost immediately after this meeting, and the New York-Boston axis worked in tandem with the old southern aristocracy to keep the south rural and backward.

  7. Quoted in Fisher, John S., A Builder of the West: The Life of General William Jackson Palmer, The Caxton Printers, Caldwell, Idaho, 1939, D . 46.

  8. Colorado Springs Gazette, Sunday, March 14, 1909.

  9. Elder, William, "How the Debt May be Paid -- the Wealth, Resources and the Power of the People of the United States," and "How Our National Debt May Be A National Blessing."

  10. Quoted in Fisher, p. 200.

  11. These are government figures presented in Guetter, Fred J. and McKinley, Albert E., Statistical Tables Relating to The Economic Growth of the United States, McKinley Publishing Co., Philadelphia, 1924.

  12. The National Cyclopaedia of American Biography, James T. White and Co., New York, 1921.

  13. John Pierpont Morgan, then 34 years old, was the maternal grandson and reverencer of poet- preacher John Pierpont, who had been Aaron Burr's employee and family tutor between Burr's killing of Alexander Hamilton and his mercenary war on Louisiana.

  14. The 92 Resolutions were reproduced from original documents, without charge and at great speed, by the staff of the Canadian National Archives and Library in Ottawa. Written in English and French, they have apparently never been published, at least not in English.

  15. See Thomas Edison's notebooks, on microfilm at the Edison National Historic Site, West Orange, New Jersey.

  16. Conot, Robert, A Streak of Luck: The Life & Legend of Thomas Alva Edison, Seaview Books, New York, 1979.

  17. Quoted in Josephson, Matthew, Edison, McGraw Hill Book Company, New York, 1959, p. 94.

  18. Eisenschiml, Otto, Why Was Lincoln Murdered?, Halcyon House, New York, 1939, p. 32-39.

  19. Shaw, George Bernard, The Irrational Knot, preface, quoted in Josephson, Edison, p. 154-55.

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