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The American Coal Industry, 1790–1902

Editor: Sean Patrick Adams

3 volume set: 1200pp: 234x156mm: 2013
978 1 84893 375 0: £275/$495

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During the nineteenth century the American economy was able to expand rapidly due to the availability of cheap and plentiful supplies of coal. This primary resource collection covers all aspects of this important energy source through a selection of letters, pamphlets, industry reports and newspaper articles.

The chronological format of the collection details America’s first great energy revolution. The three volumes chart the transition from wood to coal and how the coal industry affected politics, the economy, living standards, labour and the environment.

This collection shows how America’s vast reserves of coal and their exploitation gave rise to the development of key industries and the growth of the railway, as well as creating unprecedented opportunities for entrepreneurism and driving capitalism.

The set will be of value to researchers of economic and labour history, the environment, energy studies and business history.

  • Includes over fifty texts, most of them in full
  • Documents include pamphlets, newspaper and journal articles, reports and letters, some newly transcribed from manuscript originals
  • Sources focus on Pennsylvania, Ohio and Illinois, as well as covering lesser known coalfields in Rhode Island, Virginia and California
  • Editorial apparatus includes a general introduction, volume introductions, headnotes and endnotes
  • A consolidated index appears in the final volume

Volume 1: Coal and the New Nation, 1790–1835

This volume covers the birth of the American coal trade, from its eighteenth-century origins in Virginia and Rhode Island through to the booming anthracite trade of Eastern Pennsylvania. As mining expanded, the question of whether or not corporations could — or should — be created to mine coal helped fuel a wider debate concerning the role of small and large-scale enterprise in the American republic. From its humble origins, the coal trade of the United States not only offered self-sufficiency in mineral fuel, it provided the foundation for an industrial revolution.
Documents in this volume include manuscript material on the legislature surrounding the setting up of coal mines, letters from industry experts and scientists that describe the virtues, uses and quality of domestic coal and company reports documenting the growth of this new industry.

Selected Letters from the Papers of Harry Heth, 1800–20; Selections from the Library of Virginia's Legislative Petition Files, 1824–36; Cadwallader D Colden, Jeremiah F Randolph and Hector Craig, Observations on the Intended Application of the North-American Coal & Mining Company, to the Legislature of the State of New-York, February 1814 (1814); Rhode Island Coal Company, Observations on the Rhode Island Coal, and Certificates with Regard to its Qualities, Value, and Various Uses (1814); [Jacob Cist], Lehigh Coal. Certificates from a Number of Persons, Shewing the Use and Value of the Lehigh Stone Coal. With Some Prefatory Remarks (1815); [Cadwalader Evans], Address of the President and Managers of the Schuylkill Navigation Company, to the Stockholders, and to the Publick in General (1817); John Grammer, Jr, ‘Account of the Coal Mines in the Vicinity of Richmond, Virginia, Communicated to the Editor in a Letter from Mr John Grammer, Jun.’, American Journal of Science (1819); Lackawaxen Coal Mine and Navigation Company, Address to the Public by the Lackawaxen Coal Mine and Navigation Company, Relative to the Proposed Canal from the Hudson to the Head Waters of the Lackawaxan River. Accompanied by Documents (1824); North American Coal Company, A Brief Sketch of the Property Belonging to the North American Coal Company, with Some General Remarks on the Subject of Coal and Coal Mines (1827); Erskine Hazard, History of the Introduction of Anthracite Coal into Philadelphia ... and a Letter from Jesse Fell, Esq. of Wilksbarre, on the Discovery and First Use of Anthracite in the Valley of Wyoming (1827).

The Morris Canal's War of Words: ‘A Stockholder of the Morris Canal’, Letter to John Wurtz, Esq. with Case and Opinion ([1831]); ‘A Stockholder of the Morris Canal’, A Review by a Stockholder of the Morris Canal, of the ‘Views of a Stockholder, in Relation to the Delaware and Hudson Canal Company’ (1831).

George Taylor, Effect of Incorporated Coal Companies Upon the Anthracite Coal Trade of Pennsylvania (1833).

The Anti-Corporate Offensive: Anon., Facts and Observations Relative to the Incorporation of Coal Companies (1833);  Josiah White, To the Committee on Corporations of the Senate (1833).

S J Packer, Report of the Committee of the Senate of Pennsylvania upon the Subject of the Coal Trade (1834), excerpt; Anon., Comparative View of the Most Important Anthracite Collieries in Pennsylvania: Exhibiting their Avenues to Tide Water (1835), excerpt

Volume 2: Making Coal a Household Name, 1835–1875

As coal mining expanded the fuel became indispensable for manufacturing and for powering the steamboats and railroads that began to crisscross the nation. Even during the Civil War, the coal trade continued to grow at an exponential rate. Coal was transported to urban markets via a network of canals and railroads, causing observers to marvel at the sophistication and speed of this industrial system.
Sources in this volume detail the industry’s coming of age. Texts from the Civil War period are gathered from the writings of social commentators, newspaper articles and inter-company debates via the press. Reports, articles, lectures and speeches attest to the huge importance of the railways to the success of the coal industry. Together the documents presented paint a picture of the rising prevalence of coal in everyday life as well as the debates surrounding its economics and possibilities.

Denison Olmsted, 'Observations on the Use of Anthracite Coal', in The American Almanac and Repository of Useful Knowledge for the Year 1837 (1837); Caleb Cushing, 'Article X. The Anthracite Coal Trade of Pennsylvania', North American Review (1836); William Williams Mather, Report on the Geological Reconnaissance of Kentucky, Made in 1838 (1839), excerpt; [Charles Ellet], An Address to the Stockholders of the Schuylkill Navigation Company, in Reply to a Pamphlet Circulated by the Reading Rail Road Company (1844); Isaac Lea, Report to the Directors of the Pequa Railroad and Improvement Company (1849).

Is Coal Mining a Safe Investment Bet? Anon.,‘The Coal Business’, Mining Magazine (1853); Anon., ‘Mining: Its Embarrassments and Results’, Mining Magazine (1854); Anon., ‘Is Mining a Legitimate Business? Mines as a Means of Investment’, Mining Magazine (1858).

'A Correspondent of the New York Journal of Commerce', ‘Visit to a Coal Mine’, Hunt’s Merchant Magazine (1854); David Thomas Anstead, ‘The Ohio and Kanawha Valleys, and the Coal Basin of the Kanawha’, in Scenery, Science and Art (1854); Herman Haupt, The Coal Business on the Pennsylvania Railroad (1857); Little Rock Mining Company, A Statement of the Operations of the Little Rock Mining Co. in the La Salle Coal Basin. Cheap Fuel for Chicago and the North-West (1858); Volney L Maxwell, Mineral Coal. Two Lectures, by Volney L Maxwell, Esq., Read at Institute Hall, Wilkes-Barre, Penn'a, in February, 1858 (1869); Eli Bowen, Coal and the Coal Trade (1862); 'Stockholders of the Consumers' Mutual Coal Co.', The Consumers' Mutual Coal Company (1864); 'The Boatmen of the Schuylkill Canal', Appeal of the Boatmen of the Schuylkill Canal, to the Coal Consumers, Coal Producers and the Coal Land Owners (1864); C B Conant, ‘Coal Fever: The Price and Prospects of Anthracite Coal’, Merchants’ Magazine and Commercial Review (1865); George Derby, M.D., An Inquiry into the Influence of Anthracite Fires upon Health, 2nd edn (1868), excerpt; J C Bayles, 'The Coal Question', Hunt's Merchant Magazine (1869); Charles Bernard, 'From Hod to Mine. In Seven Lifts.', American Homes (1874)

Volume 3: King Coal’s Uneasy Throne in America, 1870–1902

By the late nineteenth-century America was wholly dependent upon cheap and abundant supplies of coal. This volume examines the highs and lows of the industry during this period.
Working conditions were abysmal and by the turn of the century the conflict between labour and capital in the minefields spilled into the nation’s headlines. This reached its peak with United Mine Workers of America staging the Anthracite Strike of 1902. This was so serious that President Roosevelt had to step in and stabilize the industry.
Sources in this volume show the development of labour organizations, including the role of the Mining Commission. Official reports, correspondence between industry leaders and articles in the press all provide insight into the economic, social and political changes occurring throughout the country. The situation surrounding the strike of 1902 is examined through the Anthracite Coal Strike Commission’s report, placing the coal industry in the context of labour history as well as the social, political and economic history of America at the turn of the century.

Charles Reemelin, Benjamin M Skinner and Andrew Roy, Report of the Mining Commission Appointed Under Joint Resolution of the General Assembly of the State of Ohio (1872), excerpt; Israel W Morris, The Duty on Coal, Being a Few Facts Connected with the Coal Question, Which Will Furnish Matter for Thought to the Friends of American Industry (1872); Philadelphia Coal Exchange, The Coal Monopoly. The Coal Trade of Philad'a in Reply to the President of the Philadelphia and Reading Railroad Company (1873); James M’Killop, 'A Visit to the Coal Mines of America', in Coal and American Coal Mining (1876), excerpt; F A Herwig, The Present Management of the Reading Railroad, as It Affects the Coal Regions, the Coal Miners and Consumers (1879).

The Coal Dealer Conspiracy: Selected Articles from the Chicago Tribune, 1880–6: Anon., 'A Serious Question', Chicago Tribune, 25 November 1880; Anon., ['The Coal Dealers'], Chicago Tribune, 10 May 1881; 'M C', 'The Coal Dealers' Conspiracy', Chicago Tribune, 15 December 1881; Anon., 'The West and the Coal Combination', Chicago Tribune, 28 July 1883; Anon., 'The Coal Question. A Retail Dealer's Views on the Question', Chicago Tribune, 17 May 1885.

John McBride, 'Coal Miners', in George E McNeill (ed), The Labor Movement; The Problem of To-day (1887); Charles Miesse, Points on Coal and the Coal Business ... History of the Anthracite Coal Business and its Surroundings (1887), excerpt; Chris Evans, History of the United Mine Workers of America, Volume II: From the Year 1890 to 1900 (1918), excerpt; Anthracite Coal Strike Commission, Report to the President on the Anthracite Coal Strike of May–October, 1902 (1903), excerpt

Editor: Sean Patrick Adams, University of Florida

This title is now available to buy from ebrary:

ISBNs: 9781848933750 978-1-84893-375-0 ISBNs: 9781781445990 978-1-78144-599-0

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