The United States of America: A Study of the American Commonwealth, Its Natural Resources, People, Industries, Manufactures, Commerce, and Its Work in Literature, Science, Education, and Self-Government - Vol. 2

By Nathaniel Southgate Shaler | Go to book overview

THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA.

CHAPTER I.
PRODUCTIVE INDUSTRY.

IN dealing with this subject the word capital will be used in its scientific sense, as the synonym for a product of labor which has been saved for future productive use. The stone axes and other stone implements which have been found under the glacial drift may be taken as the oldest examples of capital that are still in existence. There are people now in the world who make use of similar instruments in their customary life, and who could use their prehistoric types if they were placed in their charge.

The fine cloth made of flax, in which the Egyptian mummies are incased, may be taken as an example of the oldest textile fabric, rivaling in its fine, even quality of texture the best products of the modern loom.

The distaff may be taken as a type of the oldest form of spinning machinery. The hand loom, which still supplies the woven fabrics for a large portion--perhaps the largest--of the population of the globe, represents the oldest kind of mechanism applied to weaving. Instruments of production of the types named are examples of prehistoric forms of capital, corresponding to the very first that could ever have been applied to productive industry. Those which have existed in the world in the far-distant past may probably be found in use somewhere in the world at the present time. Were the managers of the next Universal Exposition so inclined, they might import from Patagonia and from Alaska the men who even now prepare flint implements and use them as weapons of war, of the chase, or in the household arts. Upon that beginning they might develop a series of examples of all kinds of tools that have ever existed. Examples of all such tools could be assembled from various parts of the world so as to bring

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