“In 1850 Howe removed to New York, and began in a small way to manufacture machines to order. He was in partnership with a Mr. Bliss, but for several years the business was so unimportant that upon the death of his partner, in 1855, he was enabled to buy out that gentleman’s interest, and thus became the sole proprietor of his patent. Soon after this his business began to increase, and continued until his own proper profits, and the royalty which the courts compelled other manufacturers to pay him for the use of his invention, grew from $300 to $200,000 per annum. In 1867, when the extension of his patent expired, it is stated that he had earned a total of two millions of dollars by it.”
Robert Burns was a failure as plowman and farmer. Rousseau was a failure at every kind of physical work. Henry George nearly starved himself and his family to death trying to make a living as a journeyman printer. The following extract from the autobiography of Jacob Riis—another excellent example of this type of organization—shows how useless it was for him to attempt to make his living at physical labor:
[Footnote 8: From “The Making of an American,” by Jacob A. Riis. Macmillan & Company, New York.]
A missionary in Castle Garden was getting up a gang of men for the Brady’s Bend Iron Works on the Allegheny River, and I went along. We started a full score, with tickets paid, but only two of us reached the Bend. The rest calmly deserted in Pittsburgh and went their own way....
The iron works company mined its own coal. Such as it was, it cropped out of the hills right and left in narrow veins, sometimes too shallow to work, seldom affording more space to the digger than barely enough to permit him to stand upright. You did not go down through a shaft, but straight in through the side of a hill to the bowels of the mountain, following a track on which a little donkey drew the coal to the mouth of the mine and sent it down the incline to run up and down a hill a mile or more by its own gravity before it reached the place of unloading. Through one of these we marched in, Adler and I, one summer morning with new pickaxes on our shoulders and nasty little oil lamps fixed in our hats to light us through the darkness where every second we stumbled over chunks of slate rock, or into pools of water that oozed through from above. An old miner, whose way lay past the fork in the tunnel where our lead began, showed us how to use our picks and the timbers to brace the slate that roofed over the vein, and left us to ourselves in a chamber perhaps ten feet wide and the height of a man.
We were to be paid by the ton, I forget how much, but it was very little, and we lost no time in getting to work. We had to dig away the coal at the floor with our picks, lying on our knees to do it, and afterward drive wedges under the roof to loosen the mass. It was hard work, and, entirely inexperienced as we were, we made but little headway.