If you are new to Optimism, each Club is a member of one of 10 Zones in our District. Each Zone has a Lieutenant Governor, elected each year. Our Central Ontario District has a Governor who is also elected each year.
Steel sold for twenty-five cents a pound. The ironmasters mined little coal and baked no coke. Not an ounce of iron had been made in Wheeling, Youngstown, Cleveland, or Chicago--the latter being a fur-trading village, without harbour or railroad. Birmingham, Alabama, was not on the map until two-score years later.
There was not a foot of railroad near Pittsburgh, and not one rail, either of iron or steel, had been produced in any part of the country. As late as the beginning of the Civil War, what was called a first-class furnace would cost about fifty thousand dollars, employ seventy men, and produce a thousand tons of iron a year.
The business was conducted, not by corporations, but by individual ironmasters, who ruled in a truly feudal way over their small communities. There were no millionaires, and what little money an iron-maker had was liable to become waste paper at any moment by the collapse of a rickety bank.
Four furnaces out of five were haunted by the spectre of debt; and in a bad year, like orscores of furnaces were blown out. The tariff, too, was even more variable than the currency.
It was raised and lowered by the fitful gusts of politics untilwhen the Morrill tariff first gave some chance of stability to the unfortunate industry. With the Civil War came the first large orders and continuous business.
Every plant was run night and day. Of the three billion dollars that the war cost the Federal Government, a goodly share went to the iron men. Uncle Sam was the best customer they had ever known.
They had a surplus in the bank, at last--a store of capital which enabled them to do business on a larger scale. When the smoke of battle had cleared away, Captain Eber B.
Ward, of Detroit, loomed up as the first of the iron kings, with several millions to his credit and three flourishing plants, in Chicago, Detroit, and Milwaukee. The marvellous modern expansion of the iron and steel industry was now about to begin.
The germ of its stupendous growth lay in the invention of the Bessemer process. This was more than a trade problem. The railroads were using iron rails, which wore out in less than two years. The largest locomotive of that time would today be considered little more than a toy.
There were no skyscrapers and no subways, and stages were practically the only street-cars. Neither wood nor iron was fit for the new uses of the growing republic; and the high cost of steel made it almost as much out of the question as silver. The greatest need of the world was cheap steel. At this juncture an answer to the universal demand was voiced by the inventive genius of two men--William Kelly, a Pittsburgh Irish-American, and Sir Henry Bessemer, an Englishman of French descent.
They devised a new way to refine iron, which has since been known as the Bessemer process. Their discovery was an entirely new idea and one which at first seemed absurd to every other steel-maker; but within a few years it was universally adopted, revolutionising the iron and steel trade, and providing the world with a cheap and abundant supply of its most useful metal.
It expanded the industry with almost the suddenness of an explosion, and for the first time in the long history of steel-making the steelsmiths were fairly swept off their feet by a flood of riches.
Hundreds of individuals were picked up--by merit, by luck, or by chance--and flung upon the golden thrones of an international empire of steel. At the time when William Kelly began to make iron, he was thirty-six years old--a tall, well-set-up, muscular, energetic man, with blue eyes and close-cropped beard.
In inventiveness his brain ranked high; in business ability, low. He had left a commission business and become an iron maker mainly to carry out a process which he had invented, by which larger sugarkettles were to be made.
The "Kelly kettles" became well known among the Southern farmers. He had married Miss Mildred A. Gracy, of Eddyville, and secured the financial backing of his wealthy father-in-law. His iron plant was a fairly good one, close to high-grade ore, and needing the work of about three hundred negro slaves.
Kelly was strongly opposed to slavery, and tried to escape being a slaveholder by importing Chinese. He was the first employer in this country to make this experiment, and found it successful; but international complications prevented him from putting it into practice on a larger scale.
His iron was refined in what was called a "finery fire"-- a small furnace in which about fifteen hundred pounds of pig iron were placed between two layers of charcoal. The charcoal was set on fire, the blast was turned on, and more charcoal was added until the iron was thoroughly refined--a slow, old-fashioned process which used up quantities of charcoal.
In a year all the wood near the furnace had been burned, and the nearest available source of supply was seven miles distant--a fact with which the unbusinesslike Kelly had not reckoned.Official Topic “Chasing Optimism in the Face of Challenges” Due Date February 22, The Hill Country Optimist club is encouraging area students to contemplate the phrase “Chasing Optimism in the Face of Challenges” as part of the Optimist International Essay Contest for This contest sponsored by Optimist International each year presents young people with the opportunity to write about their opinions regarding the world in which they live.
Optimist International Essay Contest Optimist International Essay Contest Club winners advance to the District contest to compete for a $2, college scholarship. Optimist International – Pacific Southwest District:: Essay The topic for the Optimist Essay Contest The Optimist International Essay Contest was first sponsored in This response essay explores some of the key areas of agreement and disagreement between two recent articles on Cold War-era assessments of the Soviet economy.
The Essay Contest is sponsored by Optimist International to give young people the opportunity to write about their own opinions regarding the world in which they live. The approach can encompass a young person's personal experience, the experience of their country or a more historical perspective.
Optimist International Essay Contest.. The topic for the Optimist Essay Contest is: To enter the contest, please complete and submit the following application to the District Essay Contest Chair who will assign you to a Club Contest near your community.