Famous Americans of Recent Times eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 624 pages of information about Famous Americans of Recent Times.

The immense increase in the demand for the gum has frequently suggested the inquiry whether there is any danger of the supply becoming unequal to it.  There are now in Europe and America more than a hundred and fifty manufactories of India-rubber articles, employing from five to five hundred operatives each, and consuming more than ten millions of pounds of gum per annum.  The business, too, is considered to be still in its infancy.  Certainly, it is increasing.  Nevertheless, there is no possibility of the demand exceeding the supply.  The belt of land round the globe, five hundred miles north and five hundred miles south of the equator, abounds in the trees producing the gum, and they can be tapped, it is said, for twenty successive seasons.  Forty-three thousand of these trees were counted in a tract of country thirty miles long and eight wide.  Each tree yields an average of three table-spoonfuls of sap daily, but the trees are so close together that one man can gather the sap of eighty in a day.  Starting at daylight, with his tomahawk and a ball of clay, he goes from tree to tree, making five or six incisions in each, and placing under each incision a cup made of the clay which he carries.  In three or four hours he has completed his circuit and comes home to breakfast.  In the afternoon he slings a large gourd upon his shoulder, and repeats his round to collect the sap.  The cups are covered up at the roots of the tree, to be used again on the following day.  In other regions the sap is allowed to exude from the tree, and is gathered from about the roots.  But, however it is collected, the supply is superabundant; and the countries which produce it are those in which the laborer needs only a little tapioca, a little coffee, a hut, and an apron.  In South America, from which our supply chiefly comes, the natives subsist at an expense of three cents a day.  The present high price of the gum in the United States is principally due to the fact that greenbacks are not current in the tropics; but in part, to the rapidity with which the demand has increased.  Several important applications of the vulcanized gum have been deferred to the time when the raw material shall have fallen to what Adam Smith would style its “natural price.”

Charles Goodyear’s work, therefore, is a permanent addition to the resources of man.  The latest posterity will be indebted to him.


Is there anything in America more peculiar to America, or more curious in itself, than one of our “fashionable” Protestant churches,—­such as we see in New York, on the Fifth Avenue and in the adjacent streets?  The lion and the lamb in the Millennium will not lie down together more lovingly than the Church and the World have blended in these singular establishments.  We are far from objecting to the coalition, but note it only as something curious, new, and interesting.

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Famous Americans of Recent Times from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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