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´╗┐Title: Conservation Through Engineering - Extract from the Annual Report of the Secretary of the Interior
Author: Lane, Franklin K.
Language: English
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 _2d Session_



 FRANKLIN K. LANE, Secretary


 Bulletin 705




 Extract from the Annual Report of the Secretary of the Interior





The coal strike                              1
  National stock-taking                      3
  Coal as a national asset                   3
  Public responsibility                      4
  The miners' year                           5
  Have we too many mines and miners?         7
  The long view                              7
  Saving coal                                9
  Coal and coal                             10
  Expansion abroad                          11
  Saving coal by saving electricity         11
White coal and black                        12
The age of petroleum                        13
  Oil shale                                 15
  Save oil                                  16
  Use the Diesel engine                     17
  Wanted--a foreign supply                  18
  By way of summary                         20
Land development                            22
  A program of progress                     22
  Garden homes for the people               23
  Reclamation by district organization      24
  Soldier-settlement legislation            27
Alaska                                      29
  Matanuska coal                            32
Save and develop Americans                  32


The plea for constructive policies contained in the report of the
Secretary of the Interior to the President deserves a hearing also by
the engineers and business men who are developing the power resources of
the country. The largest conservation for the future can come only
through the wisest engineering of the present.

The conditions under which the utilization of natural resources is
demanded are outlined by Secretary Lane, and it will be noted that the
program recommended calls for the cooperation of engineer and
legislator. To bring this power inventory to the attention of the men
who furnish the Nation with its coal and oil and electricity, this
extract from the administrative report of the Secretary of the Interior
is reprinted as a bulletin of the United States Geological Survey.



In an age of machinery the measure of a people's industrial capacity
seems to be surely fixed by its motive power possibilities. Civilized
nations regard an adequate fuel supply as the very foundation of
national prosperity--indeed, almost as the very foundation of national
possibility. I am convinced that there will be a reaction against the
intense industrialism of the present, but as it must be agreed that the
race for industrial supremacy is on between the nations of the world,
America may well take stock of her own power possibilities and concern
herself more actively with their development and wisest use.


The coal strike has brought concretely before us the disturbing fact
that modern society is so involved that we live virtually by unanimous
consent. Let less than one-half of 1 per cent of our population quit
their work of digging coal and we are threatened with the combined
horrors of pestilence and famine.

It did not take many hours after it was realized that the coal miners
were in earnest for the American imagination to conceive what might be
the state of the country in perhaps another 30 days. Industries closed,
railroads stopped, streets dark, food cut off, houses freezing, idle men
by the million hungry and in the dark--this was the picture, and not a
very pleasant one to contemplate. There was an immediate demand for

How much coal is normally mined in this country?

By whom is it mined?

What is its quality?

To what uses is it put?

Who gets it?

How much less could be mined if coal were conserved instead of wasted?

What better methods have been developed for using coal than those of
ancient custom?

Who is to blame that so small a supply is on the surface?

Why should we live from day to day in so vital a matter as a fuel

What substitutes can be found for coal and how quickly may these be made

This is by no means an exhaustive category of the questions which were
put to this department when the strike came. And these came tumbling in
by wire, by mail, by hand, from all parts of the country, mixed with
disquisitions upon the duty of Government, the rights of individuals as
against the rights of society, the need for strength in times of crisis,
calls for nationalization of the coal industry, for the destruction of
labor unions, for troops to mine coal, and much else that was more or
less germane to the question before the country.

Many of these questions we were able to answer. But if coal operators
themselves had not carried over the statistical machinery developed
during the war, we would have been forced to the humiliating confession
that we did not know facts which at the time were of the most vital

In a time of stress it is not enough to be able to say that the United
States contains more than one-half of the known world supply of coal;
that we, while only 8 per cent of the world's population, produce
annually 46 per cent of all coal that is taken from the ground; that 35
per cent of the railroad traffic is coal; that in less than 100 years we
have grown in production from 100,000 tons to 700,000,000 tons per
annum; that if last year's coal were used as construction material it
would build a wall as huge as the Great Wall of China around every
boundary of the United States from Maine to Vancouver, down the Pacific
to San Diego and eastward following the Mexican border and the coast to
Maine again; and that this same coal contains latent power sufficient to
lift this same wall 200 miles high in the air, according to one of our
greatest engineers (Steinmetz).

Such facts are surely startling. They serve to stimulate a certain pride
and give us a great confidence in our industrial future; yet they are
not as immediately important, when the mines threaten to close, as would
be a few figures showing how much coal we have in stock piles and where
it is! And months since we called upon Congress to grant the money that
we might secure these figures, but no notice was taken of the urged
requests until, late in the summer, a committee of the Senate awoke to
this need and indorsed our petition.


The Government should have a more complete knowledge of the coal and of
other foundation industries than can be found elsewhere, and we should
not fear national stock taking as a continuing process. It is indeed the
beginning of wisdom. The war revealed to us how delinquent in this
regard we had been in the past. One day when the full story is told of
the struggle of the Army engineer to meet war emergency demands, and
this is supplemented by the tale of the effort made by the Council of
National Defense and the War Industries Board, it will be realized more
seriously than now how little of stock taking we have done in this
generous, optimistic land.

When any such undertaking is proposed, however, it at once appears to
arouse the fear that it is somehow the beginning of a malevolent policy
called "conservation," and conservation has had a mean meaning to many
ears. It connoted stinginess and a provincial thrift, spies in the guise
of Government inspectors, hateful interferences with individual
enterprise and initiative, governmental haltings and cowardices, and all
the constrictions of an arrogant, narrow, and academic-minded
bureaucracy which can not think largely and feels no responsibility for
national progress. Needless to say this fear should not, need not be.
The word should mean helpfulness, not hindrance--helpfulness to all who
wish to use a resource and think in larger terms than that of the
greatest immediate profit; hindrance only to those who are spendthrift.
A conservation which results in a stalemate as between the forces of
progress and governmental inertia is criminal, while a conservation that
is based on the fuller, the more essential use of a resource is

To know what we have and what we can do with it--and what we should not
do with it, also!--is a policy of wisdom, a policy of lasting progress.
And in furtherance of such a policy the first step is to know our
resources--our national wealth in things and in their possibilities; the
second step is to know their availability for immediate use; the third
step is to guard them against waste either through ignorance or
wantonness; and the fourth step is to prolong their life by invention
and discovery.


Enough has been said, perhaps, to indicate how vast are the fields of
coal which this country holds. It may be that any day some genius will
release from nature a power that will make of little value our
carboniferous deposits save for their chemical content. By the
application of the sun's rays, or the use of the unceasing motion of
the waves of the sea, the whole dependence of the world upon coal may be
upset. That day, however, has not yet come; and until it does we may
consider our coal as the surest insurance which we can have that America
can meet the severest contest that any industrial rival can present. It
is more than insurance--it is an asset which can bring to us the
certainty of great wealth, and if we care to exercise it, a mastery over
the fate and fortunes of other peoples.

Next to the fertility of our soil, we have no physical asset as valuable
as our coal deposits. Although we are sometimes alarmed because those
deposits nearest to the industrial centers are rapidly declining and we
can already see within this century the end of the anthracite field, if
it is made to yield as much continuously as at present, yet it is a safe
generalization that we have sufficient coal in the United States to last
our people for centuries to come. An extra scuttleful on the fire or
shovelful in the furnace does not threaten the life of the race, even if
some Russian or Chinese of the future does not resolve the atom or
harness the hidden forces of the air. Whatever fears other nations may
justifiably have as to their ability to continue in the vast rush of a
machine world, there can be no question of our ability to last.

The present strike, however, makes quite clear, perhaps for the first
time, that it is not the coal in the mountain that is of value, but that
which is in the yard. And between the two there may be a great gulf
fixed. Therefore, we are put to it to make the best of what we have. We
turn from telling how much coal we use to a study of how little we can
live upon and do the day's work of the Nation. And this is, I believe,
as it should be. Indeed I feel justified in saying that the problem of
this strike is not to be solved in its deeper significances until we
know much more about coal than we know now, and this especially as to
the manner in which it is taken from its bed and brought to our cellars.


This transfer is effected by a kind of carrier chain, the links of which
are the operator, the miner, the railroad, and the public. We choose, to
please ourselves, the link in this chain upon which we place the
responsibility for its failure to work; but before indulging ourselves
in abuse of arrogant coal barons or dictatorial labor unions, it may lie
as well to ask whether we of the public are not responsible in some part
for this failure to function. I do not refer now to the failure of
society to provide methods of industrial mediation or other adjustment
of such labor difficulties. My question is, whether or not the public is
at all at fault when a nation wealthy beyond all others in coal finds
itself with so small a supply on hand when a strike comes--but a few
days removed from the gravest troubles. The answer, to my mind, turns
upon the manner in which we have done business.

We have been content to go without insurance as to a coal reserve. Each
day has brought its daily supply. There was no thought of railroads
stopping or mines closing down, so that large storage facilities have
not been provided, and, indeed, we would rebel at paying for our coal
the added cost of caring for it outside its native warehouse. We have
not thought in terms of apprehension, but, as always, in the calm
certainty that the stream of supply would flow without ceasing. In some
way there would be coal into which we could drive our shovels when the
need was felt.

No wonder, therefore, that we are rudely disturbed when one link in the
carrier chain from coal-in-place to coal-in-the-furnace breaks. It
simply is one of those things which doesn't happen. And not having
happened sufficiently often to give us fear, we have had no thought that
we should provide against it. It is a most heterodox thing to say, but
we may find that a bit more foresight on the part of the public would
certainly have made less sudden the present crisis. Let us look, for
instance, into the matter of the coal miners' year and see if it is not
fixed in some degree by the habit of the public in its purchasing.


The record year, 1918, with everything to stimulate production had an
average of only 249 working days for the bituminous mines of the
country. This average of the country included a minimum among the
principal coal-producing States of 204 days for Arkansas and a maximum
of 301 for New Mexico. In such a State as Ohio the average working year
is under 200 days. In 1917 the miners of New Mexico reached an average
of 321 days, and in the largest field, the Raton field, it was actually
336--probably the record for steady operation.

This short year in coal-mine operation is due in part to seasonal
fluctuation in demand. The mines averaged only 24 hours a week during
the spring months. The weekly report of that date showed that 80 per
cent of the lost time was due to "no market" and only 15 per cent to
"labor shortage," while "car shortage" was a negligible factor. In
contrast with this should be taken the last week before the strike, when
the average hours operated were 39 and "no market" was a negligible item
in lost time, while "car shortage" was by far the largest item. It
follows that the short year is a source of loss to both operator and
mine worker and is a tax on the consumer.[2]

With substantially the same number of mines and miners working this year
as last, the accumulative production for the first 10 months of this
year is 100,000,000 tons less than that mined in the same period last
year. This 25 per cent loss in output means that both plant and labor
have been less productive, and, in terms of capital and labor, coal cost
the Nation more this year than last. For in the long run both capital
and labor require a living wage.

The public must accept responsibility for the coal industry and pay for
carrying it on the year round. Mine operators and mine workers of
whatever mines are necessary to meet the needs of the country must be
paid for a year's work. The shorter the working year the less coal is
mined per man and per dollar invested in plant, and eventually the
higher priced must be the coal. It is obvious that the 264 short tons of
coal mined by the average British miner last year could not be as cheap
per ton as the 942 tons mined by the average American mine worker,
backed up as he was with more efficient plant. (A proud contrast!)

It would clearly appear that the coal business may be stabilized, not
wholly, but in a very large measure, in some of the western fields,[3]
if the public does not regard its supply of coal as it does its supply
of domestic water, which requires only that the faucet shall be opened
to bring forth a gushing supply. Coal does not have pressure behind it
which forces it out of the mine and into the coal yard. It rather must
be drawn out by the suction of demand. And herein the public must play
its part by keeping that demand as steady and uniform as possible.


The problem of the miner and his industry may be stated in another way.
We consume all the coal we produce. We produce it with labor that upon
social and economic grounds works as a rule too few days in the year. We
therefore must have a longer miners' year and fewer miners or a longer
miners' year and additional markets. One or the other is inevitable
unless we are to carry on the industry as a whole as an emergency
industry, holding men ready for work when they are not needed in order
that they may be ready for duty when the need arises. There are too many
mines to keep all the miners employed all of the time or to give them a
reasonable year's work. This conclusion is based on the assumption that
we now produce only enough coal from all the mines to meet the country's
demand, which is the fact. More coal produced would not sell more coal,
but more coal demanded would result in greater coal production. With the
full demand met by men working two-thirds or less of the time in the
year there can not be a longer year given to all the miners without more
demand for coal. This seems to be manifest. Therefore the miners must
remain working but part time as now, or fewer miners must work more
days, or market must be found for more coal and thus all the miners
given a longer year. If we worked all of our miners in all of our mines
a reasonable year, we would have a great overproduction. And to have all
our mines work a longer period means that we must find some place in
which to sell more coal, either at home or abroad.

Why have we so many mines working so many miners? There can be no
one-word reply to this question. It penetrates into almost every social
and economic condition of the country--the initiative of capital, the
size of the country, the pride of localities, the intense competition
between railroads, their inability to furnish cars when needed, the
manner in which cars are apportioned between mines, the manner in which
the railroads are operated so that movement is slow and equipment is
short, and this runs into the need for new facilities, such as more
yards, more tracks, more equipment, which brings us into the need for
more capital and so on and on.

We have none too many mines or too many miners to supply our need if the
mines are operated as at present. But we have too many to fill that need
if they are operated on a basis nearer to 100 per cent of possible


Passing from the labor phase of the coal situation to the larger aspect
of our coal supply as related to the whole problem of the economical
production of light, heat, and power, which Sir William Crookes has
characterized as "first among the immediate practical problems of
science," we find ourselves both rich and wasteful, following the
primrose path, heedless of the morrow and not yet conscious that the
morrow is to be a day of battle.

In the first place we treat coal as if it were a thing which was
exclusively for home use, a nonexportable commodity which must be used
"on the farm," whereas it should be treated with profound respect,
because we know from Paris that sacred treaties and national boundaries
turn on its presence. The world wants our coal, envies us for having it,
fears us because of it. It is not only useful to us, but it has a cash
value in the markets of the world. Therefore it should be saved.

In the next place we treat coal as if it were all alike, not selected by
nature for specific uses; whereas we should choose our coal with as
scientific a judgment as we choose our reading glasses. There is coal
for coke and coal for furnaces and coal for house use and coal adapted
for one kind of boiler and a different kind of coal for a different kind
of boiler. Therefore we should discriminate in coal.

And again we have shown little willingness to dignify coal by seeking to
draw out by improved mechanical processes all the stored content of heat
in this lump of carbon. Instead we content ourselves by giving it a mere
pauper touch, driving off the greater volume of its value into the air.
This is a task for the mechanical engineer.

Then, too there is the problem of using coal in the form of steam or in
the more exalted form of electric current. The lifting, bobbing lid of
James Watt's teakettle did not speak the last word in power. We are only
beginning to know how we may move on from one form of motive power to
another. The wastefulness of steam power as contrasted with electric
power is a real challenging problem in conservation by itself.

And then we naturally ask, Why this long haul over mountains and through
tunnels and across bridges and along streets and into houses, by
railroad, truck, and on the backs of men, when at the very pit mouth, or
within the mine itself, this same coal might be transformed into
electricity and by wire served into factories and homes 100, 200, 300
miles from the mine? Why burden our congested railroads with this
traffic? Why strew our streets with this dirt? This may be a practicable
thing, a wise thing; it deserves study if coal is worth conserving.

Are there no substitutes for coal which we can use and can not export?
This question immediately raises the water-power possibilities of our
land, of which only the most superficial study has been made. Sell coal
and use electricity would appear a thrifty policy.

As petroleum is being used as a substitute for coal--and inasmuch as
the whole problem of fuel supply is one--we are ultimately compelled to
an investigation of the ability of our petroleum supply to meet its
present drain and to meet the expansion in its use, which is the most
surprising development of our day in the study of power creation.

This spells a program of development and conservation which should
challenge the ambitions of this Nation, and on a few of its features
perhaps a few further words would be justified.


The two ways by which coal in greatest volume can be saved are the
discovery of the method by which more power can be taken from the ton
and the discovery of what kind of coal is best fitted for any particular

It has been everyone's business to save coal, hence.... The railroads
have experimented with some success. They get perhaps 10 per cent of the
heat energy from a ton shoveled beneath the locomotive boiler, 10 per
cent of the total in the ton. They use one-quarter of all the coal
mined. Next to labor this is the greatest expense which our railroads
have. This shows how great the problem is to them. Some have adopted a
system of paying a bonus for the greatest distance made on a given
quantity of a given coal. But this laudable effort has not met with the
cooperation that would be expected from the firemen, for reasons that go
far afield. Industries, especially those which generate electric power,
have made similar effort to gain from their fuel its greatest
potentiality, and with varying success. We can overlook the stoking of
the domestic furnace as a national concern, for the amount of coal used
in this way amounts to not more than 17 per cent of the national coal
bill, and this whole charge could be saved, it is estimated, by giving
care to the 75 per cent of our coal which is burned under boilers to
make steam. Here there is a maximum figure of 13 per cent of the energy
of the coal put into harness, and the average is less than 10 per cent,
even in the larger plants.

In one establishment visited by the fuel engineers of this department
during the war a preventable waste of 40,000 tons a year was discovered.
By changes in the admission of air to the furnaces and in the "baffling"
of the boilers the engineers of the Bureau of Mines are confident that
they have been able to increase the economy of coal in the ships of the
Emergency Fleet Corporation by 16 per cent, making 6 pounds of coal do
the work of 7. If such a percentage of economy could be generally
effected it would mean the saving of as much coal as France and Italy
together will need in this year of their greatest distress.


The Government should sample and certify coal. We do this as to wheat
and meat; it is just as necessary to avoid injustice in the case of
coal, and it is thoroughly practicable. The public should know the kind
of coal it is buying, because it should buy the coal it needs. There
need be no prohibition against the mining or selling of any coal,[4] but
coal should sell in terms of its capacity to deliver heat. Some coal
that is only a pint bottle is selling as a quart bottle. And the quart
is hurt by the competition of the pint. A bill to effect such fuel
inspection has been drafted and will be presented to Congress. It is not
a bill commanding anything, but rather gives to those who are willing an
opportunity to have their product inspected and attested and thus
acquire merit in the eye of the world as against those who are not
willing to subject their coal to the official test tube. Coal is coal in
the sense of the classic traffic classification. Coal is, however, not
always coal, nor is it altogether coal when put to the pragmatic test of
the furnace. If such a bill were passed it would promote the interests
of those who schedule their price upon the merit of their goods and make
against the hauling of slate and dirt, its storage and handling under an
assumed name. The plan is not to punish the malefactor who attempts to
impose upon the public a slender number of thermal units as a ton of
coal, but rather to give to ever man an opportunity to advertise the
number of such units which his particular article contains, thus
enabling the injured public to strike against an unfair mine.

Furthermore we are to become great exporters of coal, unless all signs
fail, and such certification should be required as to every ton sent


It has been said that we have too many mines in operation, as we appear
to have too many miners, if we are to maintain only our present output.
Rapid expansion in the development of industry in general may justify
the existence of such mines and so large a corps of workers, even with
an adequate car supply and more abundant local storage facilities, which
are greatly needed in almost all places, and a more even demand. If,
however, this should not be so, there is a foreign demand for the best
of our bituminous coals, which at present we are altogether unable to
meet for lack of credits on the part of those who wish the coal, and
lack of ships to carry it. England's annual production has fallen
100,000,000 tons, according to Mr. Hoover, and the European demand next
year will be more than 150,000,000 tons above her production. Whatever
the world need, it can not be supplied. It is too large for any possible
supply by ship, even if all necessary financial arrangements could be
made, either by loan or credit. Europe, indeed, will sadly learn through
this winter how little coal she can live on and how more than perilous
is the state of a people who are short of power, light, and heat.

As this country prior to the war sold abroad no more than 4,500,000 tons
as against England's 77,000,000, it is quite manifest that here will be
a new field for American enterprise, the enterprise being needed not for
the winning of markets as much as for finding ways of dealing with the
larger phases of a heavy overseas trade with those who are without
immediate resources.


It is three years since Congress was urged that we should be empowered
to make a study of the power possibilities of the congested industrial
part of the Atlantic seaboard, with a view to developing not only the
fact that there could be effected a great saving in power and a much
larger actual use secured out of that now produced, but also that new
supplies could be obtained both from running water and from the
conversion of coal at the mines instead of after a long rail haul. A
stream of power paralleling the Atlantic from Richmond to Boston, a main
channel into which run many minor feeding streams and from which diverge
an infinite number of small delivering lines--the whole an interlocking
system that would take from the coal mine and the railroad a part of
their present burden and insure the operation of street lights, street
cars, elevators, and essential industries in the face of railroad
delinquencies--this is the dream of our engineers, and a very possible
dream it has seemed to me; of such value, indeed, that we might well
spend a few thousand dollars in studying it, not with the thought that
the Government would construct or operate even the trunk line, but that
it might so attract the attention of the engineering and financial world
as to make it a reality.

To tie together the separated power plants of 10 States so that one can
give aid to the other, so that one can take the place of the other, so
that all may join their power for good in any great drive that may be
projected--this would be the prime purpose of the plan; and from this
would evolve the development of the most practicable method of supplying
this vast interdependent system with more power--perhaps from the
conversion of coal, as it drops from the very tipple, using the mine as
one might use a waterfall, or by the development of great hydroelectric
plants on the many streams from the Androscoggin to the James.


This would be a plan for the wedding of the stream and the mine, the
white coal with the black. "White coal" they call it in imaginative
France, this tumbling water which is converted into so many forms; and a
much cleaner, handier kind of coal it is than its black brother. And
cheaper, for the water goes on to return again and fall once more and
forever into the pockets of the turbine which whirls the dynamo and so
gathers or releases that mystery which we name but never define.
Farsighted, purposeful Germany fought four and a half years upon the
strength of great power plants run by the snows of the Alps. She did not
rely on these alone for power, nor were they her main reliance, but they
gave her a lasting power which otherwise she would not have had. And we
may expect her to improve on that war-time experience for the conduct of
the hard fight she is to make in the industrial field. France saved
enough territory from the invader to permit her to make new adventures
into this field and so to some degree offset the coal loss of Lens.
Italy found that she had still left unused opportunities for
hydroelectric development sufficient with the coal she could secure from
England and America to see her through the war. And with coal conditions
as they are in Europe we may expect a still greater push to make use of
water power to turn the industrial wheels of peace. It must be so
likewise here.

And it is likely that the long-pending power bill which will make
available the dam and reservoir sites on withdrawn public lands and
make feasible the financing of many projects on both navigable and
unnavigable streams will soon have become law. We shall then have an
opportunity that never before has been given us to develop the
hydroelectric possibilities of the country. And this raises the question
as to their extent.

The theoretical maximum quantity of hydroelectric power that can be
produced in the United States has recently been estimated by Dr.
Steinmetz, who calculates that if every stream could be fully utilized
throughout its length at all seasons, the power obtained would be
230,000,000 kilowatts (320,000,000 horsepower). It is clear that only a
fraction of this absolute maximum can ever be made available. The
Geological Survey estimates that the water power in this country that is
available for ultimate development amounts to 54,000,000 continuous

The census of 1912 showed that the country's developed water power was
4,870,000 horsepower, about 9 per cent of the maximum power available
for economic development and less than 2 per cent of the total that may
be supplied by the streams as estimated by Dr. Steinmetz. According to
the census, stationary prime movers representing a capacity of more than
30,000,000 horsepower, furnished by water, steam, and gas, were in
operation in the United States in 1912. (This amount does not, of
course, include power generated by locomotives, marine engines,
automobiles, and similar mobile apparatus.) The average power furnished
by these stationary prime movers was probably not more than 20 per cent
of their installed capacity, so that the power produced in 1912 was
equivalent to probably not more than 6,000,000 continuous horsepower.

As the estimated available water power given above represents continuous
power the country evidently possesses much more water power than it now
requires, so that there would be an ample surplus for many years if the
power were so distributed geographically that it could be economically
supplied to the industries that need it. But as a matter of fact the
water-power resources of the country are by no means evenly distributed.
Over 70 per cent of the available water power is west of the
Mississippi, whereas over 70 per cent of the total horsepower now
installed in prime movers is east of the river. Therefore unless the
East is to lose its industrial supremacy it must press and press hard
for the development of all water-power possibilities!


For a full century now we have been passing through different phases of
industrial and commercial life which have been characterized by some
form of power. First the age of steam, and then the age of electricity.
We have passed out of neither and yet we have come into another
age--that of petroleum. As a lubricant, it has become of such universal
use that it has been called the barometer of industry, and no doubt
after it has ceased to be a popular illuminant or a source of power it
will live invaluable as the thing which lets the wheels go round. Its
greatest popularity now arises out of its use in the internal-combustion
engine, and of the making of these there is no end. It draws railroad
trains and drives street cars. It pumps water, lifts heavy loads, has
taken the place of millions of horses, and in 20 years has become a
farming, industrial, business, and social necessity. The naval and the
merchant ships of this country and of England are fitted and being
fitted to use it either under steam boilers as fuel or directly in the
Diesel engine. The airplane has been made possible by it. It propels
that modern juggernaut, the tank. In the air it has no rival, while on
land and sea it threatens the supremacy of its rivals whenever it
appears. There has been no such magician since the day of Aladdin as
this drop of mineral oil. Medicines and dyes and high explosives are
distilled from it. No one knows whence it cometh or whither it goeth.
Men search for it with the passion of the early Argonauts, and the
promise now is that nations will yet fight to gain the fitful bed in
which it lies.

In Persia and in Palestine, in Java and in China, in southern Russia and
in Rumania we know that petroleum is, for it has been found there. How
great these fields or others in Europe, Asia, or Africa may be no one
would dare to say. As yet, however, the petroleum of the world has come
from this hemisphere.

The "oil spring" which George Washington found in western Virginia and
by his last will called to the especial consideration of his trustees
was the promise of a continental well which last year yielded
356,000,000 barrels. Each year has seen the prophecy unfulfilled that
the peak of the possible yield had been reached.

From the mountains of western Pennsylvania into the very ocean bed of
the Pacific and even beyond and into the broken strata of upturned
Alaska, the oil prospector bored with his sharp tooth of steel and found
oil. Hardly has one field fallen into a decline when another has come
rushing into service. Only three years ago and all hopes were centered
in Oklahoma, and then came Kansas, and then the turn went south again to
Texas, and now it looks toward Louisiana. Geologists have estimated and
estimated, and they do not differ widely, for few give more than thirty
years of life to the petroleum sands of this country if the present
yield is insisted upon. And yet there is so much of mystery in the
hiding of this strange subterranean liquid that honest men will not say
but that it will become a permanent factor in the world of light, heat,
and power. If this is not so we are a fatuous people, for with every
fifth man in the country the owner of an automobile and the expenditure
of hundreds of millions of dollars for roads fit only for their use, and
with ships by the hundred specially constructed to burn oil, we have
surely given a large fortune in pledge of our faith that our pools of
petroleum will not soon be drained dry, or that others elsewhere will
come to our help.

In 1908 the country's production of oil was 178,500,000 barrels, and
there was a surplus above consumption of more than 20,000,000 barrels
available to go into storage. In 1918, 10 years later, the oil wells of
the United States yielded 356,000,000 barrels--nearly twice the yield of
1908--but to meet the demands of the increased consumption more than
24,000,000 barrels had to be drawn from storage. The annual fuel-oil
consumption of the railroads alone has increased from 16-2/3 to 36-3/4
million barrels; the annual gasoline production from 540,000,000 gallons
in 1909 to 3,500,000,000 gallons in 1918. This reference to the record
of the past may be taken not only as justifying the earlier appeal for
Federal action, but as warranting deliberate attention to the oil
problem of to-day.

Fuel oil, gasoline, lubricating oil--for these three essentials are
there no practical substitutes or other adequate sources? The obvious
answer is in terms of cost; the real answer is in terms of man power.
Whether on land or sea, fuel oil is preferred to coal because it
requires fewer firemen, and back of that, in the man power required in
its mining, preparation, and transportation the advantage on the side of
oil is even greater. So, too, the substitute for gasoline in
internal-combustion engines, whether alcohol or benzol, means higher
cost and larger expenditure of labor in its production.

There are large bodies of public land now withdrawn, which, under the
new leasing bill which seems so near to final passage after seven years
of struggle and baffled hope, will in all likelihood make a further rich
contribution to the American supply.


And beyond these in point of time lie the vast deposits of oil shale
which by a comparatively cheap refining process can be made to yield
vastly more oil than has yet been found in pools or sands. The value of
this oil shale will depend upon the cheapness of its reduction, and this
must be greatly lessened by the value of by-products before it can
compete with coal or the oil from wells. There is every reason to
believe, however, that some day the production of oil from shale will be
a great and a permanent industry. And the country could make no better
immediate investment than to give a large appropriation for the
development of an economical shale-reducing plant.

So conservative an authority as the Geological Survey estimates that
the oil shales of the Western States alone contain many times over the
quantity of oil that will be recovered from our oil wells. The retorting
of oil from oil shale has been a commercial industry for many years in
Scotland and France; in fact, oil was obtained from oil shale here in
the United States before the first oil well was drilled. The industry is
in process of redevelopment to-day and if successful will assure us of a
future supply, but at the best it will take years of time and a vast
investment of capital to build up the industry to such a point that it
can supply any considerable proportion of our needs. It is imperative,
however, that the development of this latent resource be furthered and
brought to a state of commercial development as soon as possible.


Yet with all the optimism that can be justified I would urge a policy of
saving as to petroleum that should be rigid in the extreme. If we are to
long enjoy the benefits of a petroleum age, which we must frankly admit
fits into the comfort-loving and the speed-loving side of the American
nature, we must save this oil.

We must save it before it leaves the well; keep it from being lost; keep
it from being flooded out, driven away by water. Through the cementing
of wells in the Cushing field, Oklahoma, the daily volume of water
lifted from the wells was decreased from 7,520 barrels to 628 barrels,
while the daily volume of oil produced was increased from 412 barrels to
4,716. These instances show what can and should be done in our known oil

We must save the oil after it leaves the well, save it from draining off
and sinking into the soil, save it from leaking away at pipe joinings,
save it from the wastes of imperfect storage.

Then we come to the refining of the oil. How welcome now would be the
knowledge that we could recover what was thrown away when kerosene was
petroleum's one great fraction. (The loss in refineries is still
startling, some 14,556,000 barrels last year--4-1/2 per cent of the
crude run in the refineries.)

The self-interest of the American refiner, notably the Standard Oil Co.,
has done a work that probably no mere scientific or noncommercial
impulse could have equaled, in torturing out of petroleum the secrets of
its inmost nature. And yet the thought will not altogether give place
that in that residue which goes to the making of roads or to be burned
in some crude way there may be things chemical that will work largely
for man's betterment. This is the fact, too--that where the oil is
produced by some small companies which have not the financial ability to
make it yield its full riches there is a greater danger of loss of this
kind. It would be well indeed if there could be such regulation as
would require that all petroleum must be refined. That this is done
generally is not denied. It should be universal. And all the skill and
study and knowledge of the ablest of chemists and mechanicians should
find themselves challenged by the problem of petroleum.

Coming to the use of petroleum in its various forms we find a field of
promise. The engine that doubles the number of miles that can be made on
a gallon of gasoline doubles our supply. There is where we can apply the
principle of true conservation--find how little you need; use what you
must, but treat your resource with respect. Has the last word been said
as to the carburetor? Mechanical engineers do not think so. Have all
possible mixtures which will save oil and substitute cheaper and less
rare combustibles therefor been tried? Men by the hundred are making
these experiments, and almost daily the quack or the stock promoter
comes forward with the announcement of a discovery which proves to be a
revelation--a revelation of human stupidity or criminal cupidity. On
this line the men of science do not sing a song of the richest hope;
they shrug their shoulders, exclaiming with uplifted hands: "Well, may
be, may be."

There are possible substitutes for some petroleum products, but not for
the whole barrel of oil; furthermore, petroleum is the cheapest
material, speaking quantitatively, from which liquid fuels and
lubricants can be made; therefore, any substitutes obtained in quantity
must cost more. Alcohol can be substituted for gasoline, but only in
limited quantity and at increased cost. Benzol from byproduct coking
ovens also can be used, but quantitatively is totally inadequate. For
kerosene no quantitative substitute is known. Lubricants can be obtained
from animal and vegetable fats, but mostly are inferior in quality, and
there seems no hope of obtaining them in quantity. Fuel oil can be
largely supplanted by coal, but for the internal-combustion engine there
is no quantitative substitute.


We have ventured on a great shipbuilding program. Our people are to once
again respond to the call of the sea. On private ways and on Government
ways ships are being built to go round the world--ships that are to burn
oil under boilers and produce steam. I presume that there is a
justification for this policy, perhaps one that is as good, if not
better, than can be made for the railroads of the West pursuing the same
policy. I submit, however, that there should be justification shown for
the construction of any oil-burning ship which does not use an engine of
the Diesel type. To burn oil under a boiler and convert it into steam
releases but 10 per cent of the thermal units in the oil, whereas if
this same fuel oil were used directly in a Diesel engine, 30 to 35 per
cent of the power in the oil would be secured. Substitute the
internal-combustion engine for the steam boiler and we multiply by three
or three and one-half the supply of fuel oil in the United States.
Instead of our fuel-oil supply being, let us say, 200,000,000 barrels,
it would at once rise to 600,000,000 barrels or 700,000,000. I recognize
that this is an impractical and unrealizable hope as applied to things
as they are, but there is no reason why this should not be a very
definite policy as to things that are to be.

This Government might itself well undertake to develop an engine of this
type for use on its ships, tractors, and trucks. We simply can not
afford to preach economy in oil when we do not promote by every means
the use of the internal-combustion engine for its consumption. No other
one thing that can be done by the Government, our industries, or the
people will save as much oil from being wasted and thereby multiply the
real production of the United States. If such engines are delicate of
handling and need specially trained engineers, which appears to be the
fact, there should be little difficulty experienced in training men for
such work. A nation that could educate 10,000 automobile mechanics in 60
days might indeed develop 1,000 Diesel engineers in a year. The matter
is of too great moment for delay. It touches the interest of everyone.
We are in the petroleum age, and how long it will last depends upon our
own foresight, inventiveness, and wisdom.


Already we are importers of petroleum. We are to be larger importers
year by year if we continue--and we will--to invent and build machines
which will rely upon oil or its derivatives as fuel. Our business
methods have been and doubtless will continue to be developed along
lines that make a continuing oil supply a necessity. Some of that oil
must come from abroad, as nearly 40,000,000 barrels did last year, and
for that we must compete with the world. For while we are the
discoverers of oil and of the methods of securing it and refining it,
piping it, and using it, our pioneering is but a service unto the world.

This situation calls for a policy prompt, determined, and looking many
years ahead. For the American Navy and the American merchant marine and
American trade abroad must depend to some extent upon our being able to
secure, not merely for to-day but for to-morrow as well, an equal
opportunity with other nations to gain a petroleum supply from the
fields of the world. We are now in the world and of it in every possible
sense, otherwise our Navy and our merchant fleet would have no excuse.
No one needs to justify them--they are the expression of an ambition
that carries no danger to any people. For their support we can ask no
preference, but in their maintenance we can insist that they shall not
be discriminated against.

Sometime since I presented to a board of geologists, engineers, and
economists in this department this question:

     If in the next five years there should develop a new demand for
     petroleum over and above that now existing, which would amount to
     100,000,000 barrels a year, where could such a supply be found, and
     what policy should be adopted to secure it?

The conclusions of this board may be summarized as follows:

     (1) Such an oil need could not be met from domestic sources of

     (2) It could not be assured unless equal opportunities were given
     our nationals for commercial development of foreign oils.

     (3) Assurance of this oil supply therefore inevitably entails
     political as well as commercial competition with other nationals,
     as other nationals controlling foreign sources of supply have
     adopted policies that discriminate against, hinder, and even
     prevent our nationals entering foreign fields.

     (4) The encouragement of and effective assistance to our nationals
     in developing foreign fields is essential to securing the oil

     (5) Commercial control by our nationals over large foreign sources
     of supply will be essential if the estimated requirements are to be

     (6) It is necessary that all countries be induced to abandon or
     adequately modify present discriminatory policies and that the
     interest of our nationals be protected.

     (7) Some form of world-wide oil-producing, purchasing, and
     marketing agency fostered by this Government seems essential to
     assure the commercial control over sufficient resources to meet the
     competition of other nationals. England has apparently adopted such
     a policy.

This board proposed the following program of action:

     (1) To secure the removal of all discriminations to the end that
     our nationals may enjoy in other countries all the privileges now
     enjoyed by other nationals in ours:

     (_a_) By appropriate diplomatic and trade measures.

     (_b_) By securing equal rights to our nationals in countries newly
     organized as mandatories.

     (2) To encourage our nationals to acquire, develop, and market oil
     in foreign countries:

     (_a_) By assured adequate protection of our citizens engaged in
     securing and developing foreign oil fields.

     (_b_) By promotion of syndication of our nationals engaged in
     foreign business, in order to effectually conduct oil development
     and distribution of petroleum and its products abroad.

     (3) Governmental action--through special agency or board:

     (_a_) Through the organization of a subsidiary governmental
     corporation with power to produce, purchase, refine, transport,
     store, and market oil and oil products.

     (_b_) Through the formation of a permanent petroleum

     (4) To assure to our nationals the exclusive opportunity to
     explore, develop, and market the oil resources of the Philippine
     Islands, provided discriminatory policies of other nations against
     our nationals are not abandoned or satisfactorily modified.

I have given much thought during the past year to this problem of adding
to our petroleum supply, and it has seemed to me but fair that we
should first make every effort to increase the domestic supply through
the methods that have been indicated--

(1) The saving of that which is now wasted, below ground and above

(2) The more intensive use, through new machinery and devices, of the
supply which we have.

(3) The development of oil fields on our withdrawn territory and in new
areas such as the Philippines.

In addition, we must look abroad for a supplemental supply, and this may
be secured through American enterprise if we do these things:

(1) Assure American capital that if it goes into a foreign country and
secures the right to drill for oil on a legal and fair basis (all of
which must be shown to the State Department) it will be protected
against confiscation or discrimination. This should be a known,
published policy.

(2) Require every American corporation producing oil in a foreign
country to take out a Federal charter for such enterprise under which
whatever oil it produces should be subject to a preferential right on
the part of this Government to take all of its supply or a percentage
thereof at any time on payment of the market price.

(3) Sell no oil to a vessel carrying a charter from any foreign
government either at an American port or at any American bunker when
that government does not sell oil at a nondiscriminatory price to our
vessels at its bunkers or ports.

The oil industry is more distinctively American than any other of the
great basic industries. It has been the creation of no one class or
group but of many men of many kinds--the hardy, keen-eyed prospector
with a "nose for oil" who spent his months upon the deserts and in the
mountains searching for seepages and tracing them to their source; the
rough and two-fisted driller, a man generally of unusual physical
strength, who handled the great tools of his trade; the venturesome
"wildcatter," part prospector, part promoter, part operator, the
"marine" of the industry, "soldier and sailor too"; the geologist who
through his study of the anatomy of the earth crust could map the pools
and sands almost as if he saw them; the inventor; the chemist with still
and furnace; the genius who found that oil would run in a pipe--these
and many more, in most of the sciences and in nearly all of the crafts,
have created this American industry. If they are permitted they will
reveal the world supply of oil. And upon that supply the industries of
our country will come to be increasingly dependent year by year.


It would seem to be our plain duty to discover how little oil we need to
use. To do this we must dignify coal by grading it in terms not merely
of convenience as to size, but in terms of service as to its power. We
should save it, if for no better reason than that we may sell it to a
coal-hungry world. We should develop water power as an inexhaustible
substitute for coal and if necessary compel the coordination of all
power plants which serve a common territory. New petroleum supplies have
become a national necessity, so quickly have we adapted ourselves to
this new fuel and so extravagantly have we given ourselves over to its
adaptability. To save that we may use abundantly, to develop that we may
never be weak, to bring together into greater effectiveness all power
possibilities--these would seem to be national duties, dictated by a
large self-interest.

I have gone only sufficiently far into this whole question to realize
that it is as fundamental and of as deep public concern as the railroad
question and that it is even more complex. No one, so far as I can
learn, has mastered all of its various phases; in fact, there are few
who know even one sector of the great battle front of power. A Foch is
needed, one in whom would center a knowledge of all the activities and
the inactivities of these three great industries, which in reality are
but a single industry. We should know more than we do, far more about
the ways and means by which our unequaled wealth in all three divisions
can be used and made interdependent, and the moral and the legal
strength of the Nation should be behind a studied, fact-based,
long-viewed plan to make America the home of the cheapest and the most
abundant and the most immediately and intimately serviceable power
supply in the world. If we do this, we can release labor and lighten
nearly every task. We will not need to send the call to other countries
for men, and we can distribute our industries in parts of the country
where labor is less abundant and where homes will take the place of
tenements. One could expand upon the benefits that would come to this
land if a rounded program such as has been but skeletonized here could
be carried out. I am convinced that within a generation it will be
effected, because it will be necessary.

The simple steps now obviously needed are to pass those primary bills
which are already before Congress or are here suggested. But beyond this
there is imperative need that some one man (an assistant secretary in
this department would serve)--some one man with a competent staff and
commanding all the resources of this and other departments of the
Government shall be given the task of taking a world view as well as a
national view of this whole involved and growing problem, that he may
recommend policies and induce activities and promote cooperative
relationships which will effect the most economical production of light,
heat, and power, which is more than the first among the immediate
practical problems of science, as Sir William Crookes said, for it is
foremost among the immediate practical problems of national and
international statesmanship.


I wish now to ask consideration for another matter of home concern to
which I gave attention in my last report and as to which the intervening
year has strengthened and perhaps broadened my ideas--the development of
our unused lands.

It was never more vital to the welfare of our people that a creative and
out-reaching plan of developing and utilizing our natural resources
should go bravely forward than it is to-day. Ours is a growing country,
and as its social and industrial superstructure expands its agricultural
foundation must be broadened in proportion. The normal growth of the
United States now requires an addition of 6,300,000 acres to its
cultivable area each year, which means an average increase of 17,000
acres a day.

Fortunately, the opportunity for this essential expansion exists not
only in the West, where much of the public domain is yet unoccupied, but
in every part of the Republic. We have a great fund of natural resources
in the very oldest States, from Maine to Louisiana, which invite and
would richly reward the constructive genius of the Nation. It is claimed
by those who have specialized for years on the subject of reclamation
that the control and utilization of flood waters now wasted would
produce within the next 10 years more wealth than the entire cost to the
United States of the war with Germany.

After every other war in our history the work of internal development
has gone forward by leaps and bounds, and our people have thus quickly
made good the economic wastes of the conflict. The needs of to-day are
different from those of the past and require different treatment, but
they are by no means beyond the reach of enlightened thought and action.

More than a year ago we began an earnest discussion of reconstruction
policies, particularly with respect to the land. But nothing has been
done. Not one line of legislation, not one dollar of money has been
provided except in the way of preliminary investigation. We stand
voiceless in the presence of opportunity and idle in the face of urgent
national need.


The great work of material development accomplished in the past has been
done very largely by private capital and enterprise. Doubtless this must
be the chief reliance for progress in the future. We should realize,
however, that this method has involved losses as well as gains, for the
Nation has sometimes been too prodigal in offering its natural resources
as an inducement to private effort. Not only so, but with the exhaustion
of the free public lands in our great central valleys--the most
remarkable natural heritage that ever fell into the lap of a young
nation--conditions of home making and settlement have radically changed.

There can be do doubt that there is an important sphere of action which
the Government must occupy if we are to go steadily forward with the
work of continental conquest, and all it implies to the future of the
Nation, but in suggesting practicable steps of progress at this time I
do not forget the burden of taxation which confronts our people nor the
delicate and difficult task which Congress is called upon to perform in
trying to keep the national outgo within the national income. Hence, I
am now suggesting such constructive things as the Government may be able
to do through the exercise of its powers of supervision and direction
and with the smallest possible outlay of money.

Under this head I put, first, the matter of suburban homes for wage
earners; second, reclamation of desert, overflow, and cut-over areas,
together with improvement of abandoned farms, under a system of district
organization which may be made to finance itself; third, cooperation
with various States in the work of internal development.


There is no more baffling problem than that presented by the continued
growth of great cities, but it is a problem with which we must sometime
deal. It bears directly on the high cost of living and is, indeed,
largely responsible for it. Rent is based on land values. Land values
rise with increasing population. The price of food is closely related to
the growing disproportion between consumers and producers, resulting
from urban congestion.

Here is Washington, a city of some 400,000 people, doubtless destined
steadily to grow until--a Member of Congress predicts--it may touch
2,000,000 twenty years hence. Already the housing problem is acute, as
it is in almost every other large American city. It would be a pitiful
thing if the provision of more housing facilities to meet the needs of
growing population meant merely more congestion and higher rents, with
an ever-decreasing degree of landed proprietorship and true individual
independence. Such conditions, it seems to me, undermine the American
hearthstone and carry a deep menace to the future of our institutions. I
believe there must be a better way, and that the time has come when we
should make an earnest effort to find it.

Within a 10-mile circle drawn around the Capitol dome are thousands of
acres of good agricultural land, of which the merest fraction has been
reduced to intensive cultivation. Much of it is wastefully used, and
much of it is not used at all. Conditions of soil, climate, and water
supply are good and represent a fair average for the United States.
Suburban transportation is a serious problem in some localities and less
so in others, but tends to become more simple with the extension of good
roads and increasing use of motor vehicles, including the auto bus.

Somewhere and sometime, it seems to me, a new system must be devised to
disperse the people of great cities on the vacant lands surrounding
them, to give the masses a real hold upon the soil, and to replace the
apartment house with the home in a garden. Such a system should enable
the ambitious and thrifty family not only to save the entire cost of
rent, but possibly half the cost of food, while at the same time
enhancing its standard of living socially and spiritually, as well as

It has been suggested that there is no better place to demonstrate a new
form of suburban life than here at the National Capital, where we may
freely draw upon all the resources of the governmental departments for
expert knowledge and advice and where the demonstration can readily
command wide publicity and come under the observation of the Nation's
lawmakers. And I am expecting that this experiment will be made. Such a
plan of town or community life, rather than city life, should be
extended to every other large city in the Nation. A simple act of
legislation, accompanied by a moderate appropriation for organization
and educational work, would enable the department to put its facilities
at the service of local communities and of the industries throughout the
United States. This form of national leadership would be of value both
to investors in the local securities and to the home builders
themselves. If the work of land acquisition and construction, together
with the organization of community settlements resulting therefrom, were
conducted under the supervision of the State or the Federal Government
it would safeguard the character of the movement from every point of

Therefore, I put first among the constructive things which may be done
by the exercise of the Government's power of supervision and direction,
with the smallest outlay of money, this matter of providing suburban
homes for our millions of wage earners.


The provision of garden homes for millions of city workers will
contribute largely to the Nation's food supply and become in time a most
effective influence in reducing excessive cost of living for many of
our people. It will not, of course, solve the problem of increasing the
number of farms and the area of cultivation to meet the needs of growing
population. Neither will it enable us to expand our home market rapidly
and largely enough to keep the country on an even keel of prosperity.

We must go forward with the development of natural resources as we have
done for the past three centuries. And we must recognize at the outset
that conditions have changed with the depletion of the public domain to
the point where it offers comparatively little in the way of cultivable

We have now to deal principally with lands in private ownership. This
calls for a new point of view and for the application of a somewhat
different principle than that which has governed our reclamation policy
heretofore. Moreover, reclamation is no longer an affair of one section
of the United States. The day has come when it must be nationalized and
extended to all parts of the Republic.

To the deserts of the West we have brought the creative touch of water,
and we must find a way to go on with this work. But it is of equal
importance that we should liberate rich areas now held in bondage by the
swamp, convert millions of acres of idle cut-over lands to profitable
use, and raise from the dead the once vigorous agricultural life of our
abandoned farms.

One more fundamental consideration--we have outlived our day of small
things. Whether we would or not, we are compelled by the inexorable law
of necessity arising out of existing physical conditions to cooperate,
to work together, and to employ large-scale operations, and on this
principle we should move: Not what the Government can do for the people,
but what the people can do for themselves under the intelligent and
kindly leadership of the Government.

We have an instrument at hand in the Reclamation Service which has dealt
with every phase of the problem which now confronts us, and with such
high average success as to command the entire confidence of Congress and
the country. It has turned rivers out of their natural beds, reared the
highest dams in existence, transported water long distances by every
form of canal, conduit, and tunnel, installed electric power plants,
cleared land, provided drainage systems, constructed highways and even
railroads, platted townsites, and erected buildings of various sorts. In
this experience, obtained under a variety of physical and climatic
conditions, it has developed a body of trained men equal to any
constructive task which may be assigned to it in connection with
reclamation and settlement in any part of the country.

True economic reclamation is a process of converting liabilities into
assets--of transforming dormant natural resources into agencies of
living production. When such a process is intelligently applied it
should be able to pay its own bills without placing fresh burdens on the
national treasury. It is in the confident belief that such is actually
the case that I suggest the policy of reclamation by means of local
districts, financed on the basis of their own credit but with the
fullest measure of encouragement and moral support of the Government,
practically expressed through the Reclamation Service.

In this connection it seems worth while to recall that with a net
expenditure of $119,000,000 the Reclamation Service has created taxable
values of $500,000,000 in the States where it has operated. The ratio is
better than three to one, and that is a wider margin of security than is
usually demanded by the most conservative banking methods. There is no
reason to doubt that the overflow lands of the South, the cut-over areas
of the Northwest, and the abandoned farm districts of New England and
New York and other States would do quite as well as the deserts of the
West if handled by such an organization.

What is the legitimate function of the Government in connection with
reclamation districts to be financed entirely upon their own credits
without the aid of national appropriations? I should say that the
Government, with great advantage to the investor, the landowner, the
future settler, and the general public, might do these things:

1. Employ its trained, experienced engineers, attorneys, and economists
in making a thorough investigation of all the factors involved in a
given situation, to be followed by a thorough official report upon the
district proposed to be formed.

2. Offer the district securities for public subscription in the open
market. This, of course, would follow the actual organization of the
district and the approval of its proceedings by the Government's legal

3. Construct the works of reclamation with proceeds of district bond
sales, and administer the system until it becomes a "going concern,"
when it may be safely confided to its local officers.

The most obvious advantage of Government cooperation is the fact that it
would assure the service of a body of engineers, builders, and
administrators trained in the actual work of reclamation. This
advantage, as compared with the management that might be had in a
sparsely settled local district, would often make all the difference
between success and failure. Unquestionably it would materially reduce
the interest rate on district bonds and greatly facilitate their sale in
the open market.

There are other advantages less obvious but really more important.
Experience has shown that great enterprises can best be handled under
centralized control. This control, to be effective, must extend from the
initiation to the completion of the project. There can be no assurance
of this when the management is left to the electorate of a local
district, and without such assurance it is difficult to command the
support, first, of the landowners whose consent is essential to the
formation of the district; next, of the investors who must supply the
money; finally, of the settlers who must purchase and develop the land
in order that the object of the enterprise may be realized. The
Government can give the assurance of precisely that quality of unified,
centralized, permanent, and responsible control that is required to
command the confidence of all the factors in the situation.

There is another advantage of Government cooperation that will inure
greatly to the benefit of the settler. The Government may readily apply
the policy it now uses in connection with privately owned lands within
reclamation projects. It requires the owners to enter into a contract by
which they agree to accept a certain maximum price for their land if
sold within a given period of years. This price is based upon the value
of the land before reclamation. There are many instances, particularly
of swamp and cut-over areas, where land that may be bought for $10 an
acre and reclaimed at a cost of $25 to $50 per acre, has an actual
market value of $100 to $200 per acre the moment it is put into shape
for cultivation. If the Government, by means of a contract with the
local district, undertakes the work of reclamation and settlement and
does this work at actual cost, the settler will generally save enough to
pay for all his improvements and equipment.

The crowning consideration is the fact that, because of all these
advantages, the work of reclamation would actually be accomplished,
while to-day it is not being done except in the far West, and
accomplished without the aid of Government appropriations.


In the foregoing, attention has been called to those things which may be
accomplished by the exercise of the Government's powers of supervision
and direction with the smallest outlay of money. In all this I have been
speaking of reclamation for the sake of reclamation.

The proposed soldier-settlement legislation stands on an entirely
different footing. The primary object is not to reclaim land but to
reward our returned soldiers with the opportunity to obtain employment
and larger interest in the proprietorship of the country. The policy is
based on a sense of gratitude for heroic service, not on economic
considerations. This is the answer to those who have criticized it as
class legislation or the proposal to grant special privileges to one
element of our citizenship or as a plunge into socialism. Frankly, we
avow our purpose to do for the soldier what we would not think of doing
for anybody else and what would not be justified solely as a matter of

Many measures of soldier legislation have been introduced into Congress.
Only one of these has been favorably reported. This was introduced by
Representative Mondell, of Wyoming, on the first day of the present
special session, embodying the plan of reclamation and community
settlement brought forward by this department in the spring of 1918.

The measure has been much misunderstood and sometimes deliberately
misrepresented. In the first place, it was not put forward as the
complete solution of the soldier problem. It was at no time supposed or
expected that all of the 4,800,000 men and women engaged in the war with
Germany would or could take advantage of its provisions. It fortunately
happens that the vast majority quickly found their places in the
national life. Of the remainder, a very large proportion may be
classified as "city minded." They have no taste for farm life but would
be better served by vocational training and opportunities to enter upon
remunerative trades or professions. There is an element of "country
minded," and of these some 150,000 have made application for
opportunities of employment and home-making under the terms of this
bill. Largely they are men who have had agricultural experience but who
can not obtain farms of their own without very considerable cash
advances and other assistance which the Government could render. It is
for this element that the policy is designed.

It has often been said that the plan would be applied only in the West
and South. The truth is that it has been the purpose from the first to
extend it to every State where feasible projects could be found, and
that our preliminary investigations lead us to believe this will include
every State in the Union.

The wide discussion of the measure has been highly educational to the
country, and some of the criticism is of constructive character. For
example, attention has been sharply called to the fact that in certain
localities there are individual farms well suited to our purpose which
may often be had at a price representing rather less than the value of
their improvements. These are the so-called "abandoned farms" so
numerous in the Northeastern States. In some cases they are interspersed
with land now cultivated, so situated that it is not possible to bring
together a large number of contiguous farms as the basis of a Government

In New England and elsewhere public sentiment strongly favors a
modification of the pending measure which will enable the purchase of
individual farms rather than community settlement. This would be
practicable only in localities where a sufficient number of farms, even
if not contiguous, could be had to make possible the necessary
supervision and instruction, together with cooperative organization for
the purchase of supplies and sale of products. Without these advantages
the plan of soldier settlement would fail in many instances. My
information is that these conditions could be met. Not only so, but it
is urged that existing farm communities would be inspired by the
presence of soldier settlers and benefited by the presence of soldier
settlers by their cooperative buying and selling agencies.

Another criticism of the pending measure is directed to the amount of
the first payment the soldier settler is required to make. As the bill
now stands it calls for 5 per cent on the land, 25 per cent on
improvements and live stock, and 40 per cent on implements and other
equipment. It has been urged by some friends of soldier settlement that
no first payment should be required, but that the Government should make
advances of 100 per cent in view of the soldiers' peculiar claim upon
national consideration. It might be feasible to do this in the case of
community settlements. But it could not be done in the case of scattered
and individual farms, at least without abandoning the principles of
sound business.

In the case of community settlement the soldier literally "gets in on
the ground floor." Starting with a territory that is entirely blank so
far as homes and improvements are concerned, he finds himself in a place
where community values remain to be created. When he buys an improved
farm in a settled neighborhood the situation is precisely reversed. In
both cases there is or will be "unearned increment," or society-created
values; but in the one case he _gets_ the increment, while in the other
case he _pays_ it. Obviously, a larger advance would be justified in one
case than in the other.


One of the first recommendations made by me in my report of seven years
ago was that the Government build a railroad from Seward to Fairbanks in
Alaska. Five years ago you intrusted to me the direction of this work.
The road is now more than two-thirds built, and Congress at this
session, after exhaustively examining into the work, has authorized an
additional appropriation sufficient for its completion. The showing made
before Congress was that the road had been built without graft: every
dollar has gone into actual work or material. It has been built without
giving profits to any large contractors, for it has been constructed
entirely by small contractors or by day's labor. It has been built
without touch of politics: every man on the road has been chosen
exclusively for ability and experience. It has been well and solidly
built as a permanent road, not an exploiting road. It has been built for
as little money as private parties could have built it, as all competent
independent engineers who have seen the road advise.

Edwin F. Wendt, of the Interstate Commerce Commission, in charge of
valuation of the railroads of the United States from Pittsburgh to
Boston, after an investigation into the manner in which the Alaskan
Railroad was constructed and its cost, reported to me as follows:

     In concluding, it is not amiss to again state that after the full
     study which was given to the property during our trip, we are
     satisfied that the project is being executed rapidly and
     efficiently by men of experience and ability. It is believed that
     it is being handled as cheaply as private contractors could handle
     it under the circumstances.

The road has not been built as soon as expected because each year we
have exhausted our appropriation before the work contemplated had been
done. We could not say in October of one year what the cost of anything
a year or more later would be, and we ran out of money earlier than
anticipated. It has not been built as cheaply as expected because it has
been built on a rising market for everything that went into its
construction--from labor, lumber, food supplies, machinery, and steel to
rail and ocean transportation. I believe, however, it can safely be said
that no other piece of Government construction or private construction
done during the war will show a less percentage of increase over a cost
that was estimated more than four years ago.

The men have been well housed and well fed. Their wages have been good
and promptly paid; there has been but one strike, and that was four
years ago and was settled by Department of Labor experts fixing the
scale of wages. The men have had the benefit of a system of compensation
for damages like that in the Reclamation Service and Panama Canal. They
have had excellent hospital service, and our camps and towns have been
free of typhoid fever and malaria. That the men like the work is
testified by the fact that hundreds who "came out" the past two years,
attracted by the high wages of war industries, are now anxious to return
to Alaska.

There has been but one setback in the construction, and that was the
washing out of 12 miles of tracks along the Nenana River. This is a
glacial stream which, when the snows melt, comes down at times with
irresistible force. In this instance it abandoned its long accustomed
way and cut into a new bed and through trees that had been standing for
several generations, tearing out part of the track which had been laid.

The work of locating and constructing the road has been left in the
hands of the engineers appointed by yourself. The only instruction
which they received from me was that they should build the road as if
they were working for a private concern, selecting the best men for the
work irrespective of politics or pressure of any kind. As a result, we
have a force that has been gathered from the construction camps of the
western railroads, made up of men of experience and proved capacity.
That they have done their work efficiently, honestly, and at reasonable
cost is my belief.

It is not possible during the construction of a railroad to tell what it
costs per mile because all the foundation work, the construction of
bases from which to work, the equipment for construction, and much of
the material is a charge which must be spread over the entire completed
line. The best estimate that can be made to-day as to the newly
constructed road is that it has cost between $70,000 and $80,000 per
main-line mile, or between $60,000 and $70,000 per mile of track.

This cost per mile includes the building of the most difficult and
expensive stretch of line along the entire route from Seward to
Fairbanks--that running along Turnagain Arm, which is sheer rock rising
precipitously from the sea for nearly 30 miles. There are miles of this
road which have cost $200,000 per mile. Even to blast a mule trail in
one portion of this route cost $25,000 a mile.

The only Government-built railroad--that across the Isthmus of
Panama--cost $221,052 per mile. The only two recently built railroads in
the United States are (1) the Virginian, built by H.H. Rogers, which
cost exclusive of equipment $151,000 per mile, with labor at from $1.35
to $1.75 per day and all machinery, fuel, rails, and supplies at its
door, and (2) the Milwaukee line to Puget Sound, which is estimated as
having cost $130,000 per mile exclusive of equipment.

The work has been conducted with its main base at Anchorage, which is at
the head of Cook Inlet. The point was chosen as the nearest point from
which to construct a railroad into the Matanuska coal fields. That was
the primary objective of the railroad, to get at the Matanuska coal.
From Anchorage it was also intended to drive farther north through the
Susitna Valley and across Broad Pass, and to the south along Turnagain
Arm toward the Alaska Northern track. To secure coal for Alaska was the
first need. So in addition to Anchorage as a base, one was also started
at Nenana, on the Tanana River, from which to reach the Nenana coal
fields lying to the south. If these two fields were open, one would
supply the coast of Alaska and one the interior. This program has been
acted upon, with the result that the Matanuska field is open to
tidewater with a downgrade road all the way. The Nenana road has been
pushed far enough south to touch a coal mine near the track, which may
obviate the immediate necessity for reaching into the Nenana field

There is an open stretch across Broad Pass to connect the Susitna
Valley with the road coming down from Nenana. This gap closed, there
will be through connection between Seward and Fairbanks.


By decisions of the Commissioner of the Land Office all of the claims in
the Matanuska coal field were set aside, and by act of Congress a
leasing bill was put into effect over the entire field. Under this law a
number of claims must be reserved to the Government. The field was
surveyed, and some of the most promising portions of the field have been
so reserved.

Two leases have been entered into by the Government, one with Lars
Netland, a miner, who has a backer, Mr. Fontana, a business man of San
Francisco, and the other with Oliver La Duke and associates. There are
many thousands of acres in this field which are open for lease and which
will be leased to any responsible parties who will undertake their
development. Government experts who have examined this field do not
promise without further exploring a larger output of coal from this
field than 150,000 tons a year.

The population of Alaska has fallen off during the war. She sent, I am
told, 5,000 men into the Army, the largest proportion to population sent
by any part of the United States. The high cost of labor and materials
closed some of the gold mines, and the attractive wages offered by war
industries drew labor from Alaska to the mainland. All prospecting
practically closed. But with the return of peace there is evidence of a
new movement toward that Territory which should be given added
confidence in its future by the completion of the Alaskan Railroad.
There is enough arable land in Alaska to maintain a population the equal
of all those now living in Norway, Sweden, and Finland, and all that can
be produced in those countries can be produced in Alaska. The great need
is a market, and this will be found only as the mining and fishing
industries of the country develop.


When the whole story is told of American achievement and the picture is
painted of our material resources, we come back to the plain but
all-significant fact that far beyond all our possessions in land and
coal and waters and oil and industries is the American man. To him, to
his spirit and to his character, to his skill and to his intelligence is
due all the credit for the land in which we live. And that resource we
are neglecting. He may be the best nurtured and the best clothed and the
best housed of all men on this great globe. He may have more chances to
become independent and even rich. He may have opportunities for
schooling nowhere else afforded. He may have a freedom to speak and to
worship and to exercise his judgment over the affairs of the Nation. And
yet he is the most neglected of our resources because he does not know
how rich he is, how rich beyond all other men he is. Not rich in
money--I do not speak of that--but rich in the endowment of powers and
possibilities no other man ever was given.

Twenty-five per cent of the 1,600,000 men between 21 and 31 years of age
who were first drafted into our Army could not read nor write our
language, and tens of thousands could not speak it nor understand it. To
them the daily paper telling what Von Hindenberg was doing was a blur.
To them the appeals of Hoover came by word of mouth, if at all. To them
the messages of their commander in chief were as so much blank paper. To
them the word of mother or sweetheart came filtering in through other
eyes that had to read their letters.

Now this is wrong. There is something lacking in the sense of a society
that would permit it in a land of public schools that assumes leadership
in the world.

Here is raw material truly, of the most important kind and the greatest
possibility for good as well as for ill.

Save! Save! Save! This has been the mandate for the past two years. It
is a word with which this report is replete. But we have been talking of
food and land and oil while the boys and young men that are about us who
carry the fortune of the democracy in their hands are without a primary
knowledge of our institutions, our history, our wars and what we have
fought for, our men and what they have stood for, our country and what
its place in the world is.

The marvelous force of public opinion and the rare absorbing quality of
the American mind never was shown more clearly than by the fact that out
of these men came a loyalty and a stern devotion to America when the day
of test came. Had Germany known what we know now, it would have been
beyond her to believe that America could draft an army to adventure into
war in Europe. There should not be a man who was in our Army or our Navy
who has the ambition for an education who should not be given that
opportunity--indeed, induced to take it--not merely out of appreciation
but out of the greater value to the Nation that he would be if the tools
of life were put into his hand. There is no word to say upon this theme
of Americanization that has not been said, and Congress, it is now
hoped, will believe those figures which, when presented nearly two years
ago, were flouted as untrue. The Nation is humiliated at its own
indifference, and action must be the result.

To save and to develop, I have said, were equally the expression of a
true conservation. What is true as to material things is true as to
human beings. And once given a foundation of health there is no other
course by which this policy may be effected than to place at the command
of every one the means of acquiring knowledge. The whole people must
turn in that direction. We should enable all, without distinction, to
have that training for which they are fitted by their own natural
endowment. Then we can draw out of hiding the talents that have been
hidden. The school will yet come to be the first institution of our
land, in acknowledged preeminence in the making of Americans who
understand why they are Americans and why to be one is worth while.[5]


[1] Extract from the annual report of the Secretary of the Interior for
the fiscal year ended June 30, 1919. The page numbers are the same as
those in the report.

[2] In spite of the strike order, effective the last day of the week,
the production of soft coal during the seven days Oct. 26-Nov. 1 was
greater than in any week this year save one. The exception was the
preceding week, that of Oct. 25, which full reports now confirm as the
record in the history of coal mining in the United States. The total
production during the week ended Nov. 1 (including lignite and coal made
into coke) is estimated at 12,142,000 net tons, an average per working
day of 2,024,000 tons.

Indeed had it not been for the strike, curtailing the output of
Saturday, the week of Nov. 1 would have far outstripped its predecessor.
The extraordinary efforts made by the railroads to provide cars bore
fruit in a rate of production during the first five days of the week
which, if maintained for the 304 working days of full-time year, would
yield 715,000,000 tons of coal. It is worth noting that this figure is
almost identical with the 700,000,000 tons accepted early in 1918 by the
Geological Survey and the Railroad Administration as representing the
country's annual capacity. During these five days, therefore, the
soft-coal mines were working close to actual capacity. There can be
little doubt that the output on Monday, Oct. 27, was the largest ever
attained in a single day. (U.S. Geol. Survey Bull.)

[3] It is the western and southern fields that are most affected by the
seasonal demand. As a typical example, Illinois may be cited, with 18
per cent of the year's production in 25 per cent of the time, April,
May, and June, in 1915, and 15 per cent in 1916. Retail dealers received
27 per cent of the coal from Illinois in the period from August, 1918,
to February, 1919, compared with 4 per cent from the Pittsburgh, Pa.,

[4] In every trainload of coal hauled from the mines to our coal bins, 1
carload out of every 5 is going nowhere. In a train of 40 cars, the last
8 are dead load that might better have been left in the bowels of the
earth. No less an authority than Martin A. Rooney states: "Every fifth
shovel full of coal that the average fireman throws into his furnace
serves no more useful purpose than to decorate the atmosphere with a
long black stream of precious soot. At best one-fifth of all our coal is

The first requisite toward effecting fuel economy is to secure
cooperation between owners, managers, and the men who fire the coal.
Mechanical devices to increase efficiency in the use of coal can not
produce satisfactory results unless the operators who handle them are
impressed with the importance of their duties.

It is not essential for the plant manager to be a fuel expert, but he
should be familiar with the instruments that give a check on the daily
operations. It is a mistake not to provide proper instruments, for they
guide the firemen and show the management what has taken place daily.
Instruments provided for the boiler room manifest the interest taken by
the management toward conserving fuel. It indicates cooperation and
encourages the firemen to work harder to increase the efficiency.

A second factor effecting fuel economy is the selection of fuel for the
particular plant. It is not expected of a plant manager that he should
be thoroughly informed as to the character of all fuels; but he can
enlist the services of a man who is thoroughly trained In this field.
The Bureau of Mines has compiled valuable information on the character
and analyses of coal from almost every field in the United States.
Information concerning the character and chemical constituents of the
coal, together with knowledge pertaining to the equipment of the plant,
makes it possible to select a fuel adapted to the equipment, thereby
insuring better combustion. Hundreds of boiler plants operate at no
greater than 60 per cent efficiency, and it would be a comparatively
simple matter to bring them up to 70 per cent efficiency. The saving in
tonnage would be more than the combined yearly coal-carrying capacity of
the Baltimore & Ohio and the Southern Railway systems. The direct saving
to our industries at $5 per ton would amount to $200,000,000 worth of
coal per year.

[5] Assistant Secretary Herbert Kaufman before the Senate Committee on
Education presented facts and figures which accentuate the seriousness
of the national situation. Among other things he said:

"The South leads in illiteracy, but the North leads in non-English
speaking. Over 17 per cent of the persons in the east-south Central
States have never been to school. Approximately 16 per cent of the
people of Passaic, N.J., must deal with their fellow workers and
employers through interpreters. And 13 per cent of the folk in Lawrence
and Fall River, Mass., are utter strangers in a strange land.

"The extent to which our industries are dependent upon this labor is
perilous to all standards of efficiency. Their ignorance not only
retards production and confuses administration, but constantly piles up
a junk heap of broken humans and damaged machines which cost the Nation

"It is our duty to interpret America to all potential Americans in terms
of protection as well as of opportunity; and neither the opportunities
of this continent nor that humanity which is the genius of American
democracy can be rendered intelligible to these 8,000,000 until they can
talk and read and write our language.

"Steel and iron manufacturers employ 58 per cent of foreign-born
helpers; the slaughtering and meat-packing trades, 61 per cent;
bituminous coal mining, 62 per cent; the silk and dye trade, 34 per
cent; glass-making enterprises, 38 per cent; woolen mills, 62 per cent;
cotton factories, 69 per cent; the clothing business, 72 per cent; boot
and shoe manufacturers, 27 per cent; leather tanners, 57 per cent;
furniture factories, 59 per cent; glove manufacturers, 33 per cent;
cigar and tobacco trades, 33 per cent; oil refiners, 67 per cent; and
sugar refiners, 85 per cent.

"You will agree with me that future security compels attention to such
concentrations of unread, unsocialized masses thus conveniently and
perilously grouped for misguidance.

"They live in America, but America does not live in them. How can all be
'free and equal' until they have free access to the same sources of
self-help and an equal chance to secure them?

"Illiteracy is a pick-and-shovel estate, a life sentence to meniality.
Democracy may not have fixed classes and survive. The first duty of
Congress is to preserve opportunity for the whole people, and
opportunity can not exist where there is no means of information.

"It is a shabby economy, an ungrateful economy that withholds funds for
their betterment. The fields of France cry shame upon those who are
content to abandon them to their handicap.

"The loyal service of immigrant soldiers and sailors commit us to
instruct and nationalize their brothers in breed.

"The spirit in which these United States were conceived insists that the
Republic remove the cruel disadvantage under which so many native borns
despairingly carry on.

"How may they reason soundly or plan sagely? The man who knows nothing
of the past can find little in the future. The less he has gleaned from
human experience the more he may be expected to duplicate its signal
errors. No argument is too ridiculous for acceptance; no sophistry can
seem far-fetched to a person without the sense to confound it.

"Anarchy shall never want for mobs while the uninformed are left at the
mercy of false prophets. Those who have no way to estimate the worth of
America are unlikely to value its institutions fairly. Blind to facts,
the wildest one-eyed argument can sway them.

"Not until we can teach our illiterate millions the truths about the
land to which they have come and in which they were born shall its
spirit reach them--not until they can read can we set them right and
empower them to inherit their estate.

"If we continue to neglect them, there are influences at work that will
sooner or later convince them who now fail to appreciate the worth of
our Government that the Government itself has failed--crowd the melting
pot with class hates and violence and befoul its yield.

"We must not be tried by inquest. We demand the right to vindicate the
merit of our systems wherever their integrity is questioned or maligned.

"We demand the right to regulate the cheating scales upon which the
Republic is weighed by its ill-wishers.

"We demand the right to protect unintelligence from Esau bargains with
hucksters of traitorous creeds.

"We demand the right to present our case and our cause to the unlettered
mass, whose benightedness and ready prejudices continually invite

"We demand the right to vaccinate credulous inexperience against
Bolshevism and kindred plagues.

"We demand the right to render all whose kind we deem fit to fight for
our flag fit to vote and prosper under its folds.

"We demand the right to bring the American language to every American,
to qualify each inhabitant of these United States for self-determination,
self-uplift, and self-defense."

Dr. Philander P. Claxton, Commissioner of Education, in his analysis of
the illiteracy figures of the census, said:

"Illiteracy is not confined to any one race or class or section. Of the
5,500,000 illiterates as reported by the census of 1910, nearly
3,225,000 were whites, and more than 1,500,000 were native-born whites.

"That illiteracy is not a problem of any one section alone is shown by
the fact that in 1910 Massachusetts had 7,469 more illiterate men of
voting age than Arkansas; Michigan, 2,663 more than West Virginia;
Maryland, 2,352 more than Florida; Ohio, more than twice as many as New
Mexico and Arizona combined; Pennsylvania, 5,689 more than Tennessee and
Kentucky combined. Boston had more illiterates than Baltimore,
Pittsburgh more than New Orleans, Fall River more than Birmingham,
Providence nearly twice as many as Nashville, and the city of Washington
5,000 more than the city of Memphis.

"It is especially significant that of the 1,534,272 native-born white
illiterates reported in the 1910 census 1,342,372, about 87.5 per cent,
were in the open country and small towns, and only 191,900, or 12.5 per
cent, were in cities having a population of 2,500 and over. Of the
2,227,731 illiterate negroes 1,834,458, or 82.3 per cent, were in the
country, and only 393,273, or 17.7 per cent, were in the cities."


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Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.