The Welshman Who Put Plenty of Steel into a US Football Team

Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales), October 16, 2015 | Go to article overview

The Welshman Who Put Plenty of Steel into a US Football Team


IN the second half of the 19th century it was iron and steel expertise from Wales which was helping to build a fledgling industry in the north-east of the United States. Just how the Welsh helped America become a global steel giant can be gauged through the career of men like Horace Edgar Lewis.

Edgar Lewis, as he was more commonly known, was born in Pontardulais in 1882, the son of a roller man in a local tinworks.

The town had three tinplate works at that time, the Cambria, Clayton and Teilo works, and in each the job of the roller man was key to ensuring the quality and uniformity of the finished product.

From 1870 onwards tinplate production in South Wales had become concentrated in a small region within a 15-mile radius of Swansea, with Pontardulais, Llanelli, Morriston, and Gorseinon important centres at its western end.

Producing tinplate involved the hand-rolling of steel sheets which were then coated with a thin layer of tin to make a highly durable product, suitable for food canning and with a huge export market in the United States.

Tinplate became a key employer, offering work for both men and women, and towns like Pontardulais experienced significant population growth in the mid-Victorian period.

However, in 1890 the boom years of the Welsh tinplate industry came to an abrupt halt when the McKinley Tariff Act was passed in the United States, imposing heavy duties on imported goods.

For Welsh tinplate-makers it was a severe blow. Some 70% of their output had been for the American export market but now, with the tariff in place, conditions were ripe for the growth of domestic tinplate manufacture in the US.

The impact on the industry in Wales was not immediate. In fact, 1891 was a record year with output peaking at 690,000 tons.

But when they were felt the effects were profound. Numbers employed in the industry in the Swansea region fell from 25,000 in 1891 to 16,000 by 1898.

Between 1896 and 1899 some 36 Welsh tinplate firms ceased production. It was not the death knell of the industry in Wales.

In fact, the first decade of the 20th century saw renewed growth as new markets were developed and demand for food canning grew.

But from the vantage point of the 1890s, the prospect of any such revival must have appeared very slim, and Edgar Lewis' family, along with many others from the struggling Welsh tinplate region, must have regarded the outlook for secure employment in the Welsh tinplate sector as increasingly remote.

By 1896 the Lewises had decided to pack their bags. In the company of thousands of other emigrants from industrial South Wales, they headed for the developing iron and steel communities of the north-eastern United States, which offered the promise of plentiful work and a new beginning.

Some 100,000 people of Welsh birth were living in the US by 1900, the majority of them in the states of Pennsylvania and Ohio where American iron and steel production was concentrated. Not surprisingly, it was to this corner of the north-eastern USA that the Lewis family also gravitated.

They settled first in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, a growing steel centre with a population of 50,000 by 1900. Shortly afterwards they moved on to Martins Ferry, Ohio, where Edgar attended high school, but it was in Pittsburgh that the young Lewis gained his first steel job in the Carnegie Steel Company's Duquesne Works, aged just 17.

At the beginning of the 20th century the American steel industry was undergoing a period of restructuring.

Two giant corporations emerged to dominate production. The largest was the Pittsburgh-based United States Steel Corporation, the world's first billion-dollar company, established in 1901. Its rival, the Bethlehem Steel Corporation, was formed three years later and it was here that Horace Edgar Lewis' career in the US steel industry was really established. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

The Welshman Who Put Plenty of Steel into a US Football Team
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.