Big Steel and the Wilson Administration: A Study in Business-Government Relations

By Melvin I. Urofsky | Go to book overview

III
WAR PROSPERITY, PREPAREDNESS,
AND NEUTRALITY

P ROSPERITY RETURNED TO THE STEEL INDUSTRY IN THE spring of 1915. War orders started coming into the mills, first in a trickle, then a deluge, as the Allies realized that the war would not end quickly. Steel prices turned up sharply in the first weeks of 1915, leveled out, and then climbed steadily, week after week, not to be halted until the War Industries Board fixed prices in the fall of 1917. Bessemer pig rose from $14.59 per gross ton in January to $19.65 in December; steel billets in the same period went from $19.25 to $30.60 per gross ton. Bars climbed during 1915 from 1.10 cents per pound to 1.84 cents, while plates that sold for 1.10 cents in January brought 2.04 cents per pound in December.1 John A. Topping, president of Republic Steel, told a reporter in mid-January that he believed the steel industry had turned the corner of the depression, and credited this to the influx of war orders. Over the year, Topping asserted confidently, American mills would run at an average rate of 60 to 65 per cent of capacity, the normal rate for an average-to-good year.2

____________________
1
Iron Age, Annual Review of 1919, January 1, 1920.
2
New York Times, January 13, 1915.

-84-

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Big Steel and the Wilson Administration: A Study in Business-Government Relations
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Preface vii
  • Acknowledgments xv
  • Contents xix
  • Prologue xxi
  • I- The Rise and Fall of an Entente 1
  • II- Big Steel and the New Freedom 37
  • III- War Prosperity, Preparedness, and Neutrality 84
  • IV- Josephus Daniels and the Armor Trust 117
  • V- Wartime Control and Co-Operation 152
  • VI- Price Fixing by Co-Operation 192
  • VII- Conflict over Labor 248
  • VIII- Reconstruction 292
  • Epilogue- The Triumph of Big Steel 334
  • Bibliography 345
  • Index 357
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