We explained to this gentleman that we were proposing to transport our ore from these Lake Superior lands ourselves, and that we should like to have him assume charge of the construction of several ships, to be of the largest and most approved type, for our chance of success lay in having boats which could be operated with the greatest efficiency. At that time the largest ships carried about five thousand tons, but in 1900, when we sold out, we had ships that carried seven thousand or eight thousand tons, and now there are some that transport as much as ten thousand tons and more.
This expert naturally replied that as he was in the ore-carrying trade himself, he had no desire to encourage us to go into it. We explained to him that as we had made this large investment, it seemed to us to be necessary for the protection of our interests to control our own lake carriers, so we had decided to mine, ship, and market the ore; that we came to him because he could plan and superintend the construction of the best ships for us, and that we wanted to deal with him for that reason; that notwithstanding that he represented one of the largest firms among our competitors, we knew that he was honest and straightforward; and that we were most anxious to deal with him.
He still demurred, but we tried to convince him that we were not to be deterred from going into the trade, and that we were willing to pay him a satisfactory commission for looking after the building of the ships. Somebody, we explained, was going to do the work for us, and he might as well have the profit as the next man. This argument finally seemed to impress him and we then and there closed an agreement, the details of which were worked out afterward to our mutual satisfaction. This gentleman was Mr. Samuel Mather of Cleveland. He spent only a few minutes in the house, during which time we gave him the order for about $3,000,000 worth of ships and this was the only time I saw him. But Mr. Mather is a man of high business honour, we trusted him implicitly although he was a competitor, and we never had occasion to regret it.