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Triumphant Capitalism

Triumphant Capitalism: Henry Clay Frick and the Industrial Transformation of America

Kenneth Warren
Copyright Date: 1996
https://doi.org/10.2307/j.ctt5vkgd7
Pages: 448
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt5vkgd7
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  • Book Info
    Triumphant Capitalism
    Book Description:

    A detailed, carefully wrought business biography of Henry Clay Frick, one of the leading entrepreneurs in American heavy industry during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Kenneth Warren has provided not only insight into the life of Henry Clay Frick, but a major contribution to our understanding of the history of the basic industries, the shaping of society, locality, and region - and thereby of laying the foundations for the value systems and landscapes of present-day America.

    eISBN: 978-0-8229-7221-1
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. 1 Prologue: Foundations for a Business Life
    (pp. 1-20)

    The life of Henry Clay Frick spanned an era of unprecedented national economic growth. When he was born, the wealth of the United States was much less than one-third that of the world’s pioneer industrial nation, the United Kingdom; when he died, it was more than three times as large. During his lifetime the nation’s wealth increased more than fortyfold, and both the structure and the geographical form of the economy were transformed almost out of recognition. Ideas and expectations were dramatically altered. Such changes were the result of great forces and movements both within and from outside the United...

  2. 2 Complexities in Coke and Steel
    (pp. 21-55)

    After the disturbances of the Civil War years, U.S. iron and steel production advanced rapidly. The raw materials on which this increase depended became the iron ores of the upper Great Lakes and the coals of the northern Appalachian plateau. The main outlets were in the expanding infrastructure of a subcontinent now experiencing the full tide of economic growth. In 1860 pig iron production had been a record 835,000 tons, but by 1869 output was already more than twice that. In the boom of the early 1870s, output rose to more than three times that on the eve of the...

  3. 3 Carnegie Company Growth and the Homestead Crisis
    (pp. 56-112)

    The opposition of capital and organized labor, which reached a violent culmination in the strike and lockout at the Homestead works in the summer and autumn of 1892, has been widely written about and much studied—as it was happening, in its early aftermath, and since. Recent interest and research activity reached a new peak at the time of the centenary. Much of this considerable body of work is excellent, and no claim is made that the following account represents or requires a major reinterpretation of the events of those painful months. This analysis aims to do three things, which...

  4. 4 Aspects of Management: Production and Supply
    (pp. 113-177)

    In many ways, Carnegie Steel was an exceptional business organization. Whereas ordinary public companies had to provide dividends to keep their stockholders happy, this was a close-knit private partnership dominated by the one man who held a predominating share of its grossly undervalued stock. As a result, for many years the company was able to pursue investment to secure maximum efficiency with scant regard to distribution of profits. Operating revenue was poured back into extensions of capacity, the securing of raw material supplies, and most impressive of all, the never-ending pursuit of the highest productivity and lowest operating costs. Although...

  5. 5 Aspects of Management: Process Plant
    (pp. 178-206)

    As the scale of the Carnegie Steel Company operations increased, so it became clear that economic advantage could be gained by reducing any unnecessary duplication of plant, and by increasing the specialization of the mills. Their three main plants illustrate the process very well (see table 21). Edgar Thomson, built for the rail business, retained this as its main line of production throughout the independent life of Carnegie Steel. Homestead had been designed for the same trade, but when bought by them it was revamped for still heavier lines of business, especially beams, plate, and armor. The Allegheny Bessemer Steel...

  6. 6 The Reshaping of Carnegie Steel
    (pp. 207-268)

    To the outsider, the Carnegie interests seemed to be almost always successful, both in their current business and in their extensions and new ventures. This was due to various causes, including their superb plant and efficiently conducted processes. Suppliers, rivals, and their own workers were kept firmly in place. For all these contributing factors there was a common cause: the excellence of the management at all levels from shop floor to boardroom. It could readily be thought that a single, unwavering commitment to commercial success united them all, dispelling all petty rivalries and personal ambitions. The quality and efficiency of...

  7. 7 Years of Transition
    (pp. 269-294)

    During the first few months of 1900, public attention was attracted away from the operational successes of Carnegie Steel to the controversy between its managing partners and Frick and his supporters. However, these conflicts did not affect the company’s profits, which reached higher levels than ever before. Although he was in litigation with the company, Frick was still interested in their successes. In April, he wrote to Andrew Mellon, “The profits for March 1900 were as follows—Steel company $4,394,588.48, Coke company $666,142.41. Pretty satisfactory figures are they not?”¹ Maintained at that rate, they would have equaled the total for...

  8. 8 The Shaping of the U.S. Steel Corporation
    (pp. 295-329)

    During the late 1890s, major amalgamations produced a number of great steel trusts—horizontal integrations of most of the firms in a particular line of business. The breadth of their scope may be appreciated by the example of American Tin Plate, which linked more than forty previously rival firms. Initially, these were mainly or wholly finishing concerns, buying semi-finished steel from the large integrated companies. However, at the end of that decade, the firms began to integrate backward to supply more of their own needs. At the same time, a new primary steelmaking firm—the National Steel Company—was formed,...

  9. 9 From Industrial Manager to Finance Capitalist
    (pp. 330-368)

    At the turn of the century, Frick was at the height of his powers and still driven by the endless aspirations of the great businessman. He had no doubts of his ability to succeed in new fields and had many qualities that meant he was well equipped to do so. Conscious of the value of time, he wasted none of it in the course of business. In conversation he would go straight to the point, he gave orders clearly and briefly, and he evaluated propositions with striking facility. He was a keen analyst of men. An associate once said of...

  10. 10 Images and Perceptions: Assessing Frick’s Life
    (pp. 369-380)

    Frick had always been an intensely private man, who always tried to avoid attention and seemed to care little for it when it proved unavoidable. Now his death and his will became matters of major national interest. Over the next two years more than forty-five hundred obituaries, news and feature stories, or editorials appeared in newspapers across the United States. Fortunately for the historian, the family decided to collect these records of public perception. On 4 December, a letter was sent to Burrelles Press Clippings Bureau in New York, asking for a bound collection of the obituary notices from New...

  11. Appendix A Statistical Tables
    (pp. 381-390)
  12. Appendix B Biographical Notes
    (pp. 391-394)